If you're getting married for the second time, that doesn't mean you have to have a second-rate wedding. It does mean, let's hope, that you are a lot wiser and that you will make this event even more special than the first one. After all, as one friend who recently remarried put it, "The first time, your parents traditionally pay for your wedding; the second time, you're paying for it."
Here are some do's and don'ts to make the second-time-around wedding a wonderful celebration:
*Do plan your big day together. Chances are your mother did it for you the first time around. Now's your chance to do it again and get more of your partner's input. You're not (let's hope) those starry-eyed 21-year-old college kids anymore. If you're part of the growing number of couples who are paying for their weddings, it makes sense for you to plan an event that will make you both happy. That may mean some compromising -- especially if one of you has not been married before and always has dreamed of a big church wedding or if there are major religious considerations. Talking these issues through way in advance will make a second wedding much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
*Don't assume anything. He wants a small wedding; you have dozens of relatives who will be hurt if they're not invited. She wants just the two of you to sail off into a Caribbean sunset; you want your four children to be in attendance. He wants to wear jeans and a dinner jacket; you want a billowing ball gown. (Yes, it's OK for the second-time bride to wear white!) Again, talk about your preferences, even down to the smallest details.
*Do discuss a special location. This one can be tough. Many couples who remarry do not want to repeat the scenarios of their previous weddings. The second wedding offers the perfect opportunity to explore other options, and the choice of venue can set the tone for your unique celebration. Whether it's an intimate restaurant dinner that includes close family and friends, a barbecue and square dance in a barn, or a destination wedding to a castle in Ireland or a wine tasting at a vineyard in California, choose a spot that will have romantic meaning for you both.
*Don't forget about budget. Have your heart set on dozens of orchids dripping from the ceiling of a grand tented ballroom? You might want to reconsider after you talk to a florist. Do you really want a ring that costs the same amount as a new swimming pool? Be realistic, and keep things simple. If you're really intent on hosting a grand affair, then hire a wedding planner who can help you set a budget and hire reputable vendors. Otherwise, keep things simple, and concentrate on creating an event that is more personal and won't break the bank. After all, you've got kids in college.
*Do make it joyful. The two of you may just want to sneak away to a beachfront cottage and tie the knot, but that doesn't mean you can't mark the occasion with a special celebration for family and friends. Consider having an "after" party at which you can really have fun and not worry about getting to the church on time!
*Don't be afraid to break the rules. The American wedding for both young and old couples has changed dramatically in the past few decades. There really are no longer any tried-and-true "rules" anymore, so concentrate on finding a truly special way to start a new life together, and do what feels right for you -- not your mother.