All weddings are as unique and special as the families being joined by them, and encore weddings are no different. Small and quiet or large and lavish, they are about celebrating your love for another person, and your expression of that should be based on how you feel now and nothing else. They can, however, have a few extra elements to consider that first weddings don’t.
If either of you have children, inform them about your wedding plans before anyone else – no matter their ages – and do so without your fiancé(e) present. Involve your children in discussions about the wedding, and invite them to take part in the ceremony if you and they both wish. Don’t force children to participate if they aren’t ready, however. They may need to acclimate to the concept of a blended family at their own pace.
Encore ceremonies often emphasize the joining of two families as much as the marriage of a couple. To that end, children, even adult children, regularly play a role in the ceremony. How to involve children is an individual decision – they might be asked to do a reading, or even be involved in the vows: “Who supports this couple?” (in lieu of “Who gives this woman?”) can be answered with “I/we do” by children, entire families, and even entire congregations, making it a lovely gesture to affirm the creation of the new family.
Encore weddings are more likely to be hosted by the couple, and the invitation wording reflects that: “Marissa Hanlon and Scott Pruitt request…” etc. Adult children sometimes serve as hosts and when they do the wording is, “John Barton, Mark Barton and Amy Keyser request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their mother….” When there are multiple hosts, “Together with their families…” or “Together with their children…” or “As they join their lives and their families…” are warm and appropriate ways to word the invitation.
It is perfectly acceptable to have a shower for a second marriage. In general, the guest list should be made up of new friends of the bride or the couple, or close friends and relatives. Here’s the difference: It’s better not to invite guests, other than the closest of friends, who attended a shower for the first marriage. For couples who already have what they need for their household, a specialty shower with a theme such as food, gardening, new-monogram, or ticket (to some form of entertainment) may make more sense than a traditional one. Or, you might choose to skip the shower altogether, which is also fine.
The Guest List
When done for the right reasons, including former in-laws may be fine. If your ex-in-laws are still devoted grandparents to your children, or if you are very close friends, then it might be a nice idea to include them. Check with your fiancé first. If inviting them will make him uncomfortable, don't do it. Generally, it's always better not to invite ex-spouses. Even if you get along well, an ex can be a distraction and you want the focus to be on the marriage that is taking place today.
Gone are the days of a non-white suit for an encore-wedding ensemble. Though many were quite chic, and are certainly still an option if that’s what you want, an encore bride should choose the dress she loves – end of story. Whether your style is Kate or Pippa, the dress and the decision are yours. The only item typically reserved for younger, first-time brides is the blusher veil. Otherwise, the choices are as endless for an encore bride as they are for a first-time bride.
While it is not appropriate to print "no gifts, please" on the invitation, many encore couples want it understood that guests who gave gifts at a previous wedding have no obligation to do so again. As at any wedding, spread information about registries or gifts – including that you would rather not have them – the old fashioned way: by word of mouth via close friends, attendants, and family. You could also include a brief mention of it on your wedding website, as long as it isn’t the only information there. Some couples suggest donations to their favorite charities instead of gifts. Just know that a few attendees will want to give you a gift no matter what, and you should simply accept the present graciously when it arrives. (And then send your thank-you note of course!)
The Special Moments
Cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet, wedding toasts (no mentions of exes, please!), even father-daughter and mother-son dances can be just as much a part of a second wedding as a first. If having your father walk you down the aisle at your first wedding was one of the biggest joys of your life, rest assured: It is still appropriate for him to perform the same honor at an encore marriage. And you certainly wouldn't want to offend him by not asking him to do so!
Remember, wedding traditions and rituals are yours to embrace and enjoy as an encore bride. Consider your family (especially your children) and guests as you go, and you will have nothing left to do but bask in happiness.