Author: Vicki S. Smith
Vicki is the Managing Partner for VSquared Productions, Inc. and co-creator of it's all about HER and it's all about kc KIDS.
You never thought you'd do it again, did you? When you walked down the aisle the first time it was "til death do you part." Your intentions were to live the dream of "happily ever after." Who doesn't want to believe that this is "it?" But like half of the marriages in this country, life sometimes deals the unexpected blow and the dream turns out to more like a nightmare. Your Prince Charming ends up being the poster child for bad husbands! Then just about the time you believe you will never take the chance and remarry again, you work through the devastation and wade back into the water. And before you know it, “here comes the bride” and you're on your way to the alter… again! Hopefully, with the real Mr. Right this time!
So now what do you do? What are the rules? Can the second time 'round be as lavish as the first? Or are you suppose to do what your mother tells you… small, subdued, and certainly not white! At it's all about HER (IAAH), we believe love and happiness is always worth celebrating, in a BIG way! However, we also believe in getting an expert's opinion before we jump to conclusions. So we asked bridal consultant Michael Nolte of Nolte’s Bridal Collection in Overland Park, Kansas who was gracious enough to provide just the type of expertise we respect… to see what is appropriate and acceptable today for the second time bride.
IAAH: Michael, is there an etiquette to second or multiple weddings - those ‘absolutes do not do’s?
MICHAEL: There is really only one line not to cross. One realm that still remains sacred today and that is, if that bride being remarried chooses to wear a veil that she not wear it with a ‘blusher.’ In the1940's-50’s that was referred to as her “modesty veil” and that modestly was equivalent to purity or virginity. So obviously, a bride who is marrying for a second time is not a virgin therefore it would not be appropriate. That is the only rule today. The rest is up to the bride.
It used to be that second brides were not encouraged to wear white. She would wear champagne, a rum pink or a pastel. Back in the 80’s the popular color for second time brides was ice blue or blush pink. Now, we see as many first brides choosing color because they like it as often as we see all white on second-time brides. I hope when one of my three daughters gets married that they choose color, lavish use of color. But white is seen as the color of celebration now – not so much of purity these days. It is what color she looks more beautiful in more than what that color symbolizes. If white is her best color - white it is or if it is champagne or color, then color it should be.
The single girls on my staff who have gotten engaged while working for me have almost all chosen gowns with, or of color. One employee sashed a beautiful bridal gown by Pricilla Boston with crimson ties that flowed down the back of the dress. Another embroidered 2000 aquamarine crystals all over her gown. It used to be that first time brides would almost never use color and second time brides would never wear white. But just the opposite is true today.
One thing we do not see a lot of for remarriages/ second time brides and that is, them choosing extremely long trains or even wearing veils at all. They might wear a spray of gardenias or other flowers in their hair or maybe a sting of pearls braided into her hair. If brides wear veils at all it is typically a whisp, a hint or suggestion of a veil instead of an actual veil.
IAAH: What about the blending of second families? Many times second marriages include bringing children into the union. What is your recommendation for the wedding and making this transition meaningful for all parties involved?
MICHAEL: When blending families of a second marriage, I strongly suggest the bride and groom make the focus of the wedding be the children -- not the bride and groom or the parents. The children are their future. It is very important that children feel a part of the ceremony and that they understand and embrace the idea that this new person is becoming a part of their family and part of their own psyche. That this is not just my mom’s new husband but a member of our family now. This can be hard for young people. We always encourage the children to be an active part of the ceremony – not just a tourist or sightseer of the event.
IAAH: What types of things have you done or have you seen at second weddings to help facilitate this process of blending families?
MICHEAL: We have done things like a candle lighting ceremony that includes a candle for each member of the new family on the alter and instead of lighting a unity candle, they light a ‘family' candle and they would all come forward and pick up their candles and they all lean in and light the family candle.
Also, we have had medallions presented to the children of their new spouse. So the bride would present a medallion to the children of her new spouse (and vice versa) that has something engraved on it like, “what a privilege it is to be a part of your family now” – very symbolic. The medallions are a gold disc – like an Olympic medal that the bride or groom place around the neck of the spouse’s child.
We encourage them to be in the bridal party. Sons walking their mom’s down the aisle or son’s being best-men for their dads and daughters being maid-of-honors for their moms. The most important is thing is that they feel included and part of the “new” family.
IAAH: Is it proper/improper to invite an ex-spouse?
MICHAEL: I have not seen this much. I would recommend you steer away from this. It could be very tough on the children. I tell second brides “up to the time of the honeymoon you need to think of your children. That needs to be your priority.” But from the honeymoon on make the focus be each other. Do not take your children on your honeymoon!" I see too many couples feel obligated to do this which defeats the whole purpose of the honeymoon. I tell them, “you have the rest of your life to take family vacations but you only have once to take a honeymoon with each other.”
IAAH: Should there be a limit on the number of guests for a second wedding?
MICHAEL: No, not really. I discourage having small weddings and large receptions. All our statistics show that those who elope stand a higher chance of divorce, and those who have a formal/traditional wedding have a higher chance of their marriage staying together because they know that what happened… their vows were witnessed by all those people. I’m a big advocate for those invited to the reception to be invited to the wedding too – it does not cost any more. The cost is with the reception.
IAAH: It seems that it used to be viewed as embarrassing or taboo to have a second wedding – couples were discouraged in having large weddings or receptions. But with the divorce rate as high as it is there seems to be less of this attitude and more of an acceptance in second or multiple marriage celebrations. Why shouldn’t it be just as equally important occasion? Maybe it was just that you missed your prince the first time around.
MICHAEL: Absolutely. Recognizing any marriage is important whether it is a small or large event. Just celebrate with taste and class.
IAAH: What about gift giving for second weddings? What is proper or expected?
MICHAEL: Usually there are no showers for second marriages. But if a guest is coming to the reception they should bring a gift unless otherwise requested not to by the bride and groom. That is the rule there.
IAAH: Should second brides focus on a theme for gifts if they already have the china/crystal or a house full of typical items?
MICHAEL: Unless the bride and groom absolutely do not want to receive gifts, I always encourage brides to register regardless if they are second or third brides. Guest and friends like the help and direction. Even if they do not register for the china, crystal or silver. Guests don’t ever know what to do or what to get. They like to know that they are getting something the couple wants or can use. If it is a second marriage, it is probably time for a new set of towels anyway.
If brides do choose to register for gifts, the information about gift registry should never be printed in the invitation – just have this information ready for those who ask. When you print it, it implies that you are expecting a gift. Don’t give them a laundry list of places. Instead limit your registry to two places. This goes for first time brides too. That way you are sure to get what you want and it minimizes the returns you have to make. I recommend for second brides to register in one place at all different price ranges to accommodate all budgets and preferences. Don’t be afraid to register for more expensive items either. We are seeing more people pooling their resources together to get the couple a more expensive gift they really want (like that $400 espresso maker).
IAAH: Are there trends or changes you are seeing for second (or first time) brides planning weddings for spring of 2005?
MICHAEL: I have a strong conviction that it takes 2 parties to make a good party. Maybe it is because I am a male owner of a bridal salon or maybe because I am a wedding consultant /planner for 25 years. More and more grooms want to be involved. I encourage the groom’s point of view. Most of them want to be involved and have their opinion and preferences considered. Not just show up the day of the wedding. He has ownership in it too from money to opinion. It is a reflection of both of them and their lifestyle -- including stationary stock/color – ivory versus white, etc. Plus, from a financial standpoint they are involved. In fact, it is rare for even first time couples anymore to not have some financial stake in the wedding instead of just the parents paying for it. Weddings have become so expensive. The national average expenditure last year was $22,500 for a wedding. But that is just the national average so that is really a c-grade wedding. Most weddings are much more expensive. It seems like there are so many little things that couples spend money on and some choose to buy over the internet for little things like favors or more. The other major expenses are the photographer, limo, cocktails and food and of course, the honeymoon itself.
IAAH: What are several trends or important things a second bride needs to consider when planning a wedding?
MICHAEL: The first is to remember that the beauty of the wedding is in the details! It’s not how many people fill the pews. My recommendation for second brides – and first brides - is for them to establish a criterion on who you want to spend your money on to entertain. There are all kinds of criteria I can toss out to help with this but one criteria or filter the bride can use is to think about if the guest ever been in their home or their fiancé’s home? If they have not, then why would you invite them to the wedding? Especially if you are spending at least $75 per head to feed them. Another filter is to pretend they are having a receiving line at the back of church – most brides do not have receiving lines anymore but if you did – could you or your spouse greet each guest by name? If you don’t know them well enough, don’t invite them.
The second suggestion to consider is to save their money for their friends and family and do the event well. The last suggestion I have is to get the grooms involvement.
IAAH: What types of vows are being exchanged in second weddings?
MICHAEL: Traditional vows are still widely popular. There is something very permanent about those words for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part.
IAAH: I am sure all couples mean those words at the time they say them but not all stop and think about them years later or maybe they choose to conveniently forget them. Have you seen the vows change with the times? It sounds like from what you just said they are the one thing that seems to remain pretty constant.
MICHAEL: Yes, the traditional vows continue.
IAAH: Any last words of advice for second brides or any bride to consider?
MICHAEL: With no intent of plugging myself as a wedding planner/consultant, I do believe the best thing they can so is to recommend that brides invoke the advice and direction of professionals. And, the overall best rule of thumb is that I would not ask anyone their opinion about anything for your wedding unless they are paying for it or are a professional. Because I see brides get themselves into tail chasing circles when they start asking aunts, cousins, neighbors, co-workers, even some friends “Where should I shop? What do you think about this color? What should I do? What do you think about this professional?” Pretty soon they get 4 different opinions and they do not know which friendship to honor by siding with that opinion. Couples are best to do their own thing and make their own decisions based on the advice of just professionals. If someone is not paying, they shouldn’t have a vote. Just like buying shares of stock in a corporation.
When brides call and want to bring in they’re entire wedding party (for gown shopping,) we simply don’t allow it. We want choosing their dress to be a pleasant experience. I can guarantee it will not be a pleasant experience with a room full of girls. I have never ever been able to help a bride select a wedding gown with a room full of bridesmaids and I have sold thousands of wedding gowns over the years. If she brings in more that two other opinions she leaves frustrated and disappointed. I have had more brides tell me afterwards, "please let me reschedule a day to come back and try on dresses on my own and please tell other brides don’t do this.” Narrow your advice sources.
IAAH: What is the best method for a bride – second or first to get guidance from a professional if they are still trying to decide on all these matters?
MICHAEL: I am hosting a wedding planning seminar every month for the next 12 months. They will be at 12 different venues in Kansas City, always on Sunday afternoons from 1-5pm. It is a series of three seminars that build on each other that covers everything from choosing invitations to how to save money on decorations. All dates are on our website. I will have these seminars at various north and south locations of the city and the content will be adaptable to all size weddings.
IAAH: Give us an example of the types of things that will be covered.
MICHAEL: I start the very first seminar with invitations. Rules of protocol are always the same whether their invitations are printed at Kinkos or engraved. I can talk about stationary for an hour. Brides are always asking questions like – my parents are divorced, should my dad’s name be on the invitation? My parents aren’t paying for it so how do we handle this?
The invitation is the first impression the guest will have of your wedding. I think it is important that the invitation speaks of your wedding and that your wedding be consistent with your invitation. I am a real nut of good paper, beautiful fonts and nice liners in the envelope. Don’t take a beautiful invitation and scrawl with a ball point pen and blue ink the address on the front of the invitation. IF you are spending money on a quality invitation then spend the money on calligraphy and fork over the money to have it professionally lettered. Guests remember that. Even though most will be thrown away yours may be the one that is kept for reference when it is time for them to have a wedding or event. Yours will be the invitation that you or the mother of the bride will bring into the store and say, "this is an invitation that I kept because it made such an impression and I want one just like it or similar."
The seminars will be very specific for brides but yet it will be adaptable to all manners and sizes of weddings.
Seminars will begin August 22 – north, south east and west in town. Reservations are made by calling the store. It is only $10.00. There is always some type of refreshment… like wine or champagne and heavy hors d'oeuvres or a luncheon provided by the venue. All the money for reservations will be donated to the Burn Victims Support Network. So it all goes all to a good cause. It is a cause that is near and dear to me!
IAAH: Any last words?
MICHAEL: Tomorrow will be my Back to Work party – it has been 14 months since my accident. The wreck was May 22 of 2003. I feel like I am a better person because of this experience. It is strange but I think I have a new perspective in life about what is important. Putting that practical sense of reality in place with creating a fantasy wedding will be fun and hopefully inspiring to brides – regardless if it is their first wedding or a second wedding.
For information about Nolte's Bridal Collection and the Nolte Wedding Experience bridal seminars, "Your How-to for "I Do" simply click on the Nolte's banner in the Tying the Knot section of this site under the “consultants and coordinators” category. Or simply Click Here