Getting Remarried? Where to Start

Getting remarried? Congratulations! This time around, anything goes. If your last wedding was in city hall, have the grand gala of your dreams. Prefer an intimate party with friends and family? That's okay, too. Children are often a common addition to second (or third or fourth) weddings, making this a true family affair! Planning a wedding can be even more fun the second (or third) time around. Here's what encore couples need to know.

1. Engagement

The very first people you should tell about the upcoming wedding are the children either of you have from previous marriages. This is very important: Even if your children adore your fiance, they can feel very alienated if they don't hear about it first. Your kids are going to have a brand-new stepparent -- no one should know that before they do.

2. Attire

Brides: Be yourself. Let your personality shine through. You probably wore traditional garb when you married someone else -- this time wear what you like! This also means that if you always wanted to wear the big white dress, but for some reason didn't, do it now! You may want to skip the veil as the veil is generally a first-time-bride tradition. Instead, try a glimmering tiara, or fresh flowers in your hair. Choose your attendants' attire with the same philosophy.

Grooms: Same goes for you. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in -- a zoot suit, a morning suit, a white tie, a seersucker suit, or tails.

3. Children

Involve your children in the ceremony -- after all, your fiance will be part of their family, too. Let them be ushers, bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers, best men, pages, or organizers. That said, don't just assume that they want to be involved. Always ask. If a child expresses reluctance, don't push. Reassure your children that their presence will be appreciated regardless of their roles on the big day. As a nice gesture, seat them at your table during the reception.

4. Casual Or Formal?

Have the wedding of your dreams. Not formal enough the first time? Go all out on this one. Too stuffy the first time? Have a backyard barbecue complete with limbo contest. Consider a soiree that creatively combines tradition with your own personal flair. There's only one rule: Have fun!

5. Registry

Many encore brides who are independently settled or already live with their fiances decide to skip the registry. Instead, they arrange for guests to make donations to a favorite charity in lieu of wedding gifts. If you forgot things you really wanted (pickle dish, carving board, corkscrew) the first time you registered, remedy the error now. You may want to avoid silver, china, and crystal, since these items are associated with first marriages.

6. Showers

As you probably have most necessary household items, go for interesting theme showers:

  • Self-improvement: Ballroom dancing, scuba diving, a spa weekend.
  • Wine Cellar: Wineglasses, corkscrew, wine rack, membership to a wine-of-the-month club, wine-tasting classes.
  • Great Outdoors: Gardening tools, skis, hiking/camping equipment, binoculars, rock-climbing lessons, a gas grill.

7. Invitations

If you're planning a formal or elegant wedding, engraved invitations are perfectly acceptable. For an informal wedding, explore different ideas: Create invitations on your computer, or print them on Japanese rice paper. For a casual affair, write invitations on balloons (recipients will have to blow them up to read the message.) Don't know how to word your invites? Here are a couple of ideas:

For couples hosting the wedding themselves, this is a common wording:

Ms. Jane Doe
Mr. John Smith
request the honor of your presence at their wedding.

Include your children for a thoughtful touch. For example:

Ms. Jane Doe
with her daughter Rachel Allison Doe
and her son Brandon William Doe
Mr. Joseph Jones
with his son Michael Jones
request the pleasure of your company
at the union of their families.

8. Money Matters

Generally, you two should share expenses. Discuss the type of affair each of you would like, and try to accommodate each other's needs and wants. Draw up a budget and stick firmly to it. If relatives want to contribute, feel free to accept -- and be sure to send a thank-you note and gift.

9. Flowers, Photography, Music, and More

Go ahead and get the most beautiful bouquet, the best photographer, and a fabulous DJ or band. For a more casual affair, make a camera-happy relative your honorary photographer. Have your own video camera? Enlist a few friends to take turns capturing the moment. These goodies depend on your budget and your wedding's formality.

10. Rehearsal Dinner

A remarrying couple may certainly have a rehearsal dinner, even if the next day's ceremony is informal and doesn't require rehearsal. Traditionally, the groom's parents would host the dinner; in this case, the groom may want to host it himself. You should invite the wedding party and their spouses, your parents, and your children -- provided they can stay up late. Beyond that, the number of attendees is up to you.

11. Honeymoon

Including your children in your wedding planning can be a rewarding experience, but you should honeymoon alone and bask in wedded bliss. If you have very young children, vacation by yourselves for a few days, then take the children with you for a few more. If your children are old enough to stay home alone, go for that island adventure or European holiday and experience joie de vivre!

Remember this: You might have been married before, but not to each other. Treat your big day as a unique, special occasion. It is a first for the two of you together. Happy planning!

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