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Second Wedding Etiquette

Weddings and traditions have evolved over the years, and one of the most significant changes has been the inclusion and societal approval of second weddings. In the past, divorce was not a societally approved option, so many men and women only had one wedding. Even as divorces began to become more commonplace, those who divorced generally remained single. Some of that has to do with certain religions that don't allow another marriage or with the fact that they just did not want to marry again. However, second weddings have become more and more common, and are no longer a taboo topic. However, there are some keys to second wedding etiquette that should be followed by both the bride and groom, as well as the guests.

Second wedding etiquette tips for the guests:

  • Don't reference the first wedding. Whether it was one that ended in divorce or death, it is inappropriate to bring up the previous spouse or wedding in any capacity, whether that be about the food, dress, or attendees. Instead, focus on the wedding right now, and the beautiful future that the couple has.
  • Be prepared for a less than traditional event. Not all second weddings follow the same rules as the first wedding, so guests may be asked to participate in readings, the lighting of candles, or even singing, even if that's not traditionally at a wedding.
  • Don't ask about a bouquet toss. This tradition is generally only for the first marriage, so don't start lining up for one.

Second wedding etiquette tips for the bride and groom:

  • Don't build a registry. Many guests will still opt to purchase a gift, but generally, second weddings mean both couples are established and have the standard bridal registry items already.
  • Be considerate of children. If you are blending families, make sure to be considerate of them in the whole process, and make sure to include them in the planning. It will make this transition easier on them.
  • Keep things small. Generally, second weddings are smaller, more intimate affairs, which in turn, is nice for guests.
  • Don't expect parents or friends to pay for a bridal shower or engagement party. They've already done this once in some cases, so be prepared to pay for it yourself if you want one.
  • Give your bridal party more freedom with dresses. If you choose to have a bridal party, let them choose their own dresses, or just give them an idea of color and short or long. This way, they are saving some money, especially since most will have likely been in the first wedding.
  • Don't invite ex-spouses. Even on good terms, that can be exceptionally awkward. If you need to discuss it privately first, do so, but don't send an invitation that may feel like an obligation. The focus is on the future, not on the past.