This week the Weddings Edition of Time Out Chicago came out and…we’re in it!
I Do, Take Two: When it comes to “Wedding Version 2.0,” encore spouses play by a different set of rules.
By Christina Couch
Photo: Nicole Radja; Photo Illustration: Stephanie Gladney
So maybe your first marriage left you heartbroken, dirt poor and feeling as if all the joy had been sucked out of the universe. The good news is now you’re marrying someone who’s sweeter, sexier and far more suited for forever than the first one was. Here are ways to make your second wedding memorable, without repeating the past.
Throw a big bash or keep it simple?
When it comes to walking down the aisle for the second time, either a lavish wedding or a simple affair is the way to go, so long as “Wedding: the Sequel” is a distinctly different experience than the original. “There aren’t a lot of taboos when it comes to second marriages, but I think it’s tasteful to make the ceremony different than your first one,” says Meghann VanderBaan, wedding planner and owner of Blush and Bashful Events (2043 W Wabansia Ave, 773-687-8834). “I always advise couples to get creative, don’t feel like you have to stick to a traditional wedding plan, and have fun with the process.”
Erin Shea, a second time bride-to-be who lives in Roscoe Village, says the radically different ceremony she chose for her second nuptials is a reflection of how her new relationship differs from the first marriage and also how her personality has changed.
“My first wedding was a really elaborate, traditional wedding. We had 200 people, a big sit-down dinner reception, I rented a trolley for the whole wedding party, I had a big diamond, honeymoon in Ireland, the whole kit and caboodle,” she recalls. “When Scott and I decided to get married… we knew that we wanted nothing resembling our first weddings. We are two very different people than we were then.”
Skipping as much hoopla as possible, Shea and her future groom plan to elope to a small dairy farm in Vermont on October 25. Forgoing an engagement ring, formal reception and gown—the bride plans to wear an ivory cocktail dress from Nordstrom—Shea says the event’s simplicity shows her increased attention to the relationship.
“For anyone getting remarried, you tend to focus a lot on the marriage aspect, not the wedding aspect,” she notes. “Besides, I think I would have stabbed myself in the uterus if I had to think about things like flower arrangements and invitations again.”
Get parental support or go it alone?
Don’t count on your parents to pay for the event, advises Renny Pedersen, owner of Bliss Weddings & Events (312-927-6090). Because second-time couples are typically older and usually in a better financial position to foot their own wedding bills, Pedersen says couples should present the idea of remarriage to the parents but shouldn’t expect anything more than a blessing in return. “Financial support from parents [for a second marriage]? That never happens,” she says. “That’s taboo.”
If your parents insist on chipping in the second time around, it’s more acceptable to have them help with the reception or honeymoon, as opposed to the dress, invitations, flowers and the rest, VanderBaan says.
That’s exactly what River West resident Evey Caravello, who got remarried last month, did. Caravello and her new hubby paid for the ceremony itself—a quiet elopement on a mountain in Sedona, Arizona—but took a little help for the 150-person reception at the Adler Planetarium they threw upon their return.
“It didn’t really make sense to go through the whole process of asking for permission [to get married] and having [my parents] pay for it,” Caravello says. “They really contributed to the party, but the ceremony was all about what [my husband] and I wanted.”
To register or not to register?
Skip the registry. The key to having a classy second marriage is recognizing that a wedding is an expensive affair, not only for the couple involved, but for everyone who shows up. Asking for a long list of home accessories a second time around can quickly turn your friends and family from supportive comrades to mutinous enemies. Instead of demanding another set of china or high-thread-count sheets, VanderBaan suggests thinking outside the traditional registry.
“A lot of second-time couples opt for a registry that puts money toward big-ticket items like their honeymoon or a down payment on their first home,” she says.
Include the kids?
Only if you don’t want to come off as a jerk. Incorporating kids from previous marriages into the ceremony is a vital part of showing that the marriage isn’t just a union of two people; it’s the creation of a new family unit.
Pedersen encourages those getting remarried to think creatively when adding children into the ceremony. Though it’s completely acceptable for kids from previous marriages to play traditional roles like bridesmaids, flower girls or ushers, Pedersen says many of her clients design their ceremonies to welcome children into the new family.
“I had one wedding where there were three little girls and they all held a ribbon and a flower…. As the bride walked down the aisle, the girls handed the flowers over to form the bride’s bouquet,” she says. “At another ceremony, the couple had special rings made for the children, like the wedding ring but something similar that the groom gave them to symbolize that he’s going to be there for them, too.”
The important part isn’t what specific role children play, Pedersen adds, only that they’re included as a crucial part of the wedding ceremony. “We absolutely make sure that the children have a huge role and that they’re standing up there next to the couple the whole time,” Pedersen says. “Anyone who doesn’t feel like they should include the children isn’t putting their foot forward into a good relationship.”