Getting Married (again)

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

December 19, 2008 5 min read


"Encore" couples tie the knot in style and good taste

Vicky Katz Whitaker

Creators News Service

From drawing up the invitation list to dealing with children or former spouses, "encore" brides and grooms may find themselves needing to make tough decisions before taking another walk down the aisle.

While the stigma of remarriage has virtually disappeared, "there are considerations to the encore wedding that we don't typically have for the first wedding," said veteran etiquette expert and radio and television personality Rebecca Black, founder and principal of Etiquette Now! (, a California-based etiquette and image consulting firm. "Not too many years ago, people felt that a failed marriage, and especially embarking on an encore wedding, was a negative and was a personal failure -- somewhat akin to a character flaw. Today, there isn't the same stigma."

However, children and relatives from a former marriage can impact your plans.

"If there are children from a former marriage, they should be informed privately before the others," she recommended. If you're close to your ex-spouse's family, they should be notified directly after your own family has been told. "If they are not close, there is no reason to tell them," she added.

Widows and widowers may face additional issues. "The major difference with those who have been widowed is that some may be comparing the 'new' choice or may feel uncomfortable with the widower marrying again," she said. In those situations, Black suggested, "discussing this with those guests before the wedding if this could be a problem."

Prominent Boston psychologist Mona Barbera said the best approach, "is to stay clear and connected with your relatives and former in-laws. Be courageous -- really say how you feel -- and stay aware and connected to them as they respond. Even if they have difficulty with the news, you'll be going through it as a team. It may bring up feelings in you, too."

Los Angeles attorney Dianna Gould-Saltman, a certified family law specialist, believes it's important, "for previously married folks to have serious heart-to-heart discussions about things like whether they intend to have marital/community property, how they plan to share expenses, and how children from prior marriages will be treated by the new spouse."

Issues such as discipline and chores of minor children, holiday gifts or even helping an adult child purchase a new home should be worked out in advance. "Many of these issues are really best addressed in a prenuptial agreement," she added.

While some view such documents as a way to protect themselves in case of divorce, to Gould-Saltman, a prenuptial agreement "is a legitimate vehicle for setting out expectations of how spouses will address issues during the marriage, even if they never get divorced."

Christine Moriarty, a Vermont certified financial planner with over 20 years experience working with couples, recommends retaining a lawyer to write up a will before you wed. "This will be revealing and clarify both your goals for your families," she said. However, "do not try and merge everything or keep everything separate for the sake of your families. Have his, her, and our money."

Check all of your credit reports with each other, she added, "so that you know where you stand and that there are no outstanding issues with a former spouse."

As for the wedding itself, today there are no steadfast rules, the experts said. "Encore weddings may be as elaborate as first time weddings," Black said, "but it appears more respectful to guests who may have walked down this aisle with a member of the encore couple to try to tone it down if this is the third or fourth wedding."

When it comes to attire, encore brides tend to choose "short dresses or a less ornate gowns," said Ursula Guyer and Stacy Senechalle, bridal experts and owners of white CHICAGO, a sample and designer bridal boutique that draws clients from more than 30 states. They find encore brides use more hair accessories instead of a veil and choose colors that make them look best and feel good. And while champagne is one of the most popular colors, a traditional white dress can be worn too.

"The gown should always be age appropriate. Attire is a major consideration for the older brides," said Black. What to avoid? "Looking like someone trying to relive her prom," she said.

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