Tying the knot again (without getting into a tangle)

Photo by  Joshua Glass  on  Unsplash

About 250,000 couples get married every year in England and Wales – and about 40% of those, 100,000 of them, are doing it for the second or even third time.  This raises a number of questions – if you don’t ask them yourselves you’ll have no shortage of helpful people asking (and answering!) them for you.  Planning a second wedding can feel like tiptoeing through an etiquette minefield and running the gauntlet of friends and family with opinions on what is or isn't appropriate.  In this article we share a few thoughts you will hopefully find helpful.

You are free to choose

First or second time around there’s no big difference in terms of practical details, logistics and planning – you’ll have to sort the same stuff, from invitations to the dress, the venue to the flowers, the ceremony to the catering.

You can, however, ring the changes a little, a lot or not at all.  You might do things exactly the same as last time.  Having said that, you probably don't want a play-by-play of your first wedding – it may bring back unwelcome memories and is not the best way to mark a new beginning.

Photo by  Ben Rosett  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Most couples opt to do things very differently and seize the opportunity to create an event that’s totally fresh and unique.  The fact is that there are few restrictions and faux pas to avoid.  And looking on the positive side you are now a little older, wiser and experienced so you’ll probably feel more confident about going with your own ideas rather than indulging pushy family and friends.

Announcing Your Engagement

Your children should be the first to know and they need to hear it direct from you.  Discuss with them who is going to tell their other parent/your ex.  They might want to communicate the news themselves or they might prefer you to do it. 

If you don’t have children it is not mandatory to inform your previous spouse.  You might decide, however, that it is better that they hear it from you rather than someone else.  The best way to tell them is probably in the form of a letter or email Afterward, announce your engagement in the regular way.


Involving Children in a Second Wedding

If you and your new intended have children you probably want to make them a special part of the celebrations.  Of course a lot depends on their ages but they may be a flower girl, ring bearer, junior bridesmaid or groomsman, or even the best man or maid of honour.  They might like to read something during the ceremony or make a special toast during the reception. Whatever is discussed and decided make sure they are comfortable their role.

Reception inspiration

Should your celebrations, and the venue, be more modest and understated simply because you’ve done it all once before?  No!  This is a fresh start so forget any comparisons with the previous event so don’t let the past limit you in any way.  If you want a super-formal extravaganza in a ballroom, or a casual rustic affair in a woodland, it’s your day and you are free to do it your way. 


Your first wedding may have been heavily influenced by one or more of your relatives and you may have gone along with their wishes just to make them happy.  This is your chance to have the wedding you really wanted back then!

Dress decorum

In years gone by a pristine white dress was the preserve of the virginal bride and a no-no for those tying the knot a second time.  That old rule, like so much else, has become entirely passé and you can wear white whether it's your second, third or even fourth marriage!

Most brides getting remarried have already had their "princess in a white dress" moment the first time around, and so opt for a more mature look such as a brocade suit or a simple cocktail dress.  The most important thing is to pick a style that suits your personality, figure, and the nature of the wedding.

Photo by  Heleno Kaizer  on  Unsplash

The only hard and fast rule is don't wear the dress you wore the first time around. You might be tempted by the prospect of saving a few pounds and avoiding the stress of dress shopping, but resist!  Your old wedding dress comes with too many memories and you want the focus to be on the new chapter in your life that is now unfolding.   We'd even suggest looking at dresses in a different style, silhouette, or fabric than your first wedding gown to avoid any feelings of fashion déjà vu. Ideas for what to wear to a second wedding might include:

·         A designer, non-wedding dress in any colour

·         A slightly non-traditional wedding dress in blush, pale blue, or one that features a colourful pattern

·         A demure suit in any colour

·         A flirty cocktail dress

Photo by  Ussama Azam  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash

Bank of Mum and Dad

Your parents probably contributed heavily to your first wedding but don't assume they’ll be quite so generous this time around.  If you know they are keen to contribute, or they are particularly well off, then by all means accept any offer of assistance graciously.  In most instances couple getting hitched for a second time cover the costs themselves. 

Photo by  Mark Zamora  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mark Zamora on Unsplash

Church ceremony?

Don’t count on being able to walk down the aisle a second time.  The more strict your particular religion the less likely they’ll welcome you back for a re-run.  The Roman Catholic Church doesn't recognize divorce, for instance.  If you encounter this kind of problem you’ll have to exchange vows at the reception venue or another nondenominational location.

Guests bearing gifts

Don’t expect guests to give you wedding gifts, especially if they attended your first wedding.  The giving of gifts was traditionally to help a young couple set up their first home and you and your intended have probably got more kitchen appliances and towel sets than you need already. 

However, despite this, the giving of gifts is becoming more common for second weddings, at least where family and close friends are concerned.  One way to resolve any awkwardness about gift giving is to register with a favourite charity and give guests the option of making a donation.



You can have bridesmaids if you want, even if they're the same women who were in your original bridal party.  When it comes to their dresses don’t ask them to push the boat out too far.  If you can afford it, you might want to pay for their gowns, or if not, at least give them more freedom to choose styles they can actually wear again.

Invite the ex?

Even though you may still be on good terms it is unadvisable to have your previous partner to join the party or ceremony.  Other guests may feel uncomfortable, especially your new spouse's family.  What’s more, emotions run high at weddings, everybody has lots to drink, and despite everyone’s best intentions words can be exchanged and misunderstandings arise – best to keep your ex well out of the way!

Get in touch if you have a question

Even if you’ve tied the knot before there will probably a few things you are not sure about.  The team here are only too happy to help in any way we can so ask away!


Jim O'ConnorComment