Most Common Wedding Etiquette Questions, Answered

Don’t know how to plan a wedding shower for a second marriage? The experts at Zola can help! Read on now.

By Deanna deBara

Wedding Party Etiquette Guide for a Second Wedding
Photo by Studio Opia

Nowadays, many marriages involve someone who has been married before, and keeping the second wedding quiet is no longer the norm. Having experienced a wedding firsthand, second-timers are often more mature and comfortable with their likes and dislikes. Most of them also don’t consider this their second or third wedding, but rather their first, to each other. Couples who are getting married the second time are often paying for the wedding themselves. They may host an engagement party but pass on bachelorette and bachelor parties. Or plan a small ceremony and follow it with a larger reception. It can be as intimate or as elaborate as they wish.

With or without the bells and whistles, it all comes down to what this event means to them and their families. All bets are off when it comes to the number of wedding guests, the venue, the bride’s gown, and more. Ultimately, it’s up to the second-time bride and groom to decide how they want to spend their big day.

Planning a Wedding Shower for a Second Marriage | Zola Photo Credit // Nicki Metcalf Photography

Having a bridal party is not completely necessary—as in any wedding, what you primarily need are witnesses, and it can be any two adults that you choose, such as a best man and a maid of honor (or matron of honor). But, even if some second-timers tend to keep the number of attendants small, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have to be surrounded by your closest friends, children, or even your parents at your wedding.

Ceremony and Reception Etiquette

There’s nothing in the wedding handbook that says you must invite everyone to both your wedding ceremony and reception. Many couples choose to have intimate ceremonies, only inviting their close friends and family members. Then, afterward, they host a larger reception with the rest of their guests in attendance. If this is the decision you’ve chosen, when it’s time to narrow down your guest list of who to invite to the ceremony, be mindful of your guests' feelings.

Some people may be offended that they weren’t included in your wedding ceremony, while others will be more understanding. If you’re concerned about how your guest will take the invite (or lack thereof), consider giving them a phone call or speaking with them in person to explain your decision. When sending out the invitations to your wedding guests, make it clear whether guests are invited to both the ceremony and reception, or just the reception. This will ensure that your close family and loved ones enjoy your big day without any hurt feelings.

Pre-Reception Break

A pre-reception break comes after the ceremony and before the reception starts. During this time, you and your partner might sign your wedding certificates or take formal photos with your wedding photographer. It’s also a great opportunity to sit down, rest your feet, and grab a drink.

This break is also a great opportunity for your guests to mingle, enjoy the open bar, or make their way from the ceremony location to the reception venue.

Can My Dog Participate in the Wedding?

If you have a dog (or any other pet!) you want to include in your wedding, there are a few things to consider before suiting up your pup in full formal wear. The first thing to think about is your pet’s behavior. Will they be able to sit quietly during the ceremony? Or will you spend the reception chasing them under tables and around the gazebo?

Be honest about your pet and how they react to being around a big crowd. If you think your furbaby has a calm and friendly demeanor, then go ahead and include them in your big day—but if you think they’re going to cause a scene, it’s probably best to leave them at home.

You’ll also want to check with your officiant and venues that dogs are allowed and welcome. Also, be mindful of your guests. Some may be allergic, so if you’re going to include your pet, make sure to include a note on your wedding invitations or on your wedding website so guests can prepare accordingly.

Inviting My Guy Best Friend to My Bridal Party

With the ever-changing landscape of modern weddings, brides and grooms are now including members of the opposite gender in their wedding parties. The result has become mixed-gender wedding parties(in contrast to the more traditional women-only and men-only parties). Today, it’s completely normal for brides to have their closest guy friend―or “bridesman”―participate in the bridal shower and bachelorette party. If you go this route, make sure to use gender-neutral terms, such as “wedding party” as opposed to “bridal party,” so as not to exclude anyone.

Picking My Wedding Day Outfit

Feeling comfortable and confident on your wedding day is a must. If that means wearing a full-skirt tulle ballgown, go for it—or if you’d rather walk down the aisle in a custom-design jumpsuit with a detachable train, then you rock that jumpsuit! Don’t worry about what anyone else may think of your wedding day outfit. It’s your day and you can wear whatever you want, as long as you feel good in it.

There are a few other things to consider when deciding what to wear on your wedding day, including weather (you may love a strapless gown, but if you’re getting married outside in 30-degree weather, it might not be the most practical) and venue location (for example, if you’re getting married on the beach, it doesn’t matter how much you love a high heel—stilettos and sand generally don’t work well together).

Now, keep in mind you don’t have to necessarily sacrifice style for weather or location. You just might have to get creative. For example, you might wear sandals while you say your “I do’s” on the beach—and then swap them out for a higher heel when you’re ready to hit the dance floor.

Wedding Etiquette for Walking Down the Aisle

Traditionally, brides were escorted down the aisle by their fathers. Nowadays, you can walk down the aisle with whomever you want, or make the walk on your own if you’d like. When choosing what music you’d like to walk down the aisle to, make sure to pick something that’s appropriate for all ages. And if love a song—but you’re concerned it may have some questionable lyrics? Consider an instrumental version.

Wedding Etiquette for Second Marriages

Planning a second marriage can be as elaborate and festive as your first marriage, or as small and intimate as you’d like. If either of you is getting married for the second time, there may be new elements to consider this time around, such as children and extended family members. To prevent any awkward or uncomfortable situations, think through how you’d like to approach your wedding day this second time around.

Parents

Most remarrying brides choose to walk down the aisle alone, but, if you prefer, you can still request that your parents walk by your side down the aisle. Similarly, the groom can also choose to have his parents waiting with him or walk with him down the aisle. Parents can even say a few words at the rehearsal dinner if requested by the bride and groom.

If you have divorced parents who don’t get along, talk to them about what role you’d like them to play in your wedding early on in the planning process. Consider their current partners and decide the best course of action for seating, who will make speeches, and other responsibilities. Emphasize that you want everyone to have a good time and come up with a plan to make sure it’s a day of celebration for everyone

Children

Do you or your partner have children? If you do, do you want to involve them in the wedding ceremony? There are many roles that can be assigned to your kids, from being a ring bearer or a flower girl to reading at the ceremony and/or assisting you in the lighting of the unity candle. Older children can serve as your maid of honor or best man, or escort the bride down the aisle.

It’s always best to talk to the children first before even beginning to plan the wedding. One of the considerations you should take in a second wedding is being sensitive to the kids in the previous marriage. Are they comfortable being in a large wedding setting? Ask them how they feel about taking part in your wedding celebration for your second marriage. Giving them a part may make them feel included in your journey and newfound love, but also don’t force them to participate if they’re not willing to take part in your wedding ceremony. Some things may take time, including their acceptance, especially if their parents got divorced.

Closest Friends

Having friends who know you best beside you on your wedding day is one of the most incredible things that your friends can experience. So, yes, if you want to, have some bridesmaids and groomsmen at your second wedding ceremony and wedding reception. As these are people who are closest to you, they can be the same groomsmen or bridesmaid groups you chose from your previous wedding party―and that’s okay, as long as they agree.

Planning a Wedding Shower for a Second Marriage | Zola Photo Credit // Zola

There are no changes in the wedding party’s duties and roles, as they are still your support system, and they can both host a second marriage wedding shower and attend pre-wedding activities. They’re also responsible for their outfits, unless you are able to cover this for them.

Your second wedding can be anything that you want, and having a wedding party is all about honoring the ones who are close to you, and who are supportive of your relationship as a couple. Continuously look for ways to incorporate family and friends throughout the entire wedding—both in the ceremony and at the wedding reception.

When it comes to having a wedding party, whether you decide to have many people, just one important person, or no one at all, these people will still be present to celebrate your love and happiness on your wedding day. To get started with your wedding planning, create a wedding website at Zola today.

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