Ask Ann: Bride Etiquette




My fiance and I are getting married. It is his second marriage and my first. Are there any “rules”? No, in traditional etiquette, the “rules” (if you want them) for second marriages only apply to second time (and subsequent) brides. First-time brides can enjoy all the trimmings and trappings of a firsttime wedding, regardless of how many previous marriages the groom has had. What is the traditional etiquette for a second marriage? The traditional approach was rather forlorn, I’m afraid. Typically the couple, sans offspring, were quietly married in a judge’s chambers, both wearing dark suits! Today, thankfully, much has changed and the second or subsequent marriage has blossomed into a warm intimate celebration that is “bridal,” without having the hoopla of the first wedding. Traditionally, a first-time bride wears white, has a train, a veil and a chorus of bridesmaids. The second time bride forsakes the meaning and symbolism of the white wedding and might wear an ivory or colored dress with no train. She may wear flowers or a small headpiece with no veil, and have only one or two attendants. In a second marriage, should the groom have fewer ushers as the bride is having fewer attendants? No, the number of ushers does not change. The rule of thumb is that there ought to be at least one usher for every 50 guests, regardless of how many bridesmaids are attending the bride. Would an encore bride still have a wedding cake and toss her bouquet? While an encore bride may have a wedding cake, she may elect to not have the traditional bridal cake done in all white. She and her fiance may choose something unique, creative and done in color. Typically, she does not toss her bouquet at her second marriage, but that is up to her. How can we involve our young children at our marriage ceremony? Very thoughtfully and very carefully. Often, children are overwhelmed with having to make adjustments to new family members be they step-parents or step-siblings. Sometimes, the excited and happy couple rush into asking their children to serve as attendants, etc., which are tasks that may well be over their heads, depending upon their age and maturity. Some couples create a special “ceremony within the ceremony,” in which the new spouse pledges to be loving, fair, concerned, and attentive to his or her new step-children. It is important to have the children present, in extra special garb, to help make them feel included. They may fill the usual children’s’ roles of ring bearer, flower girl or junior attendant. However, it is not always advisable to ask them to serve in the usually adult roles of attendants. Recently, I read in an etiquette book that guests do not send gifts to a couple who is being married for the second time. Is this so? Years ago, so few remarried that many etiquette books stated that, since the remarrying couple was older and more mature with a house full of supplies, that no gifts were needed. However, today, guests usually do want to honor the couple by gifting them with a special gift beyond what they may need. Theatre tickets, restaurant gift certificates, etc., are always nice choices. As the couple is not “starting out,” guests usually do not give gifts of money or checks. Usually, because they have material goods, the encore bride does not register for gifts. Contact Ann at askann.bride@nhmagazine.com.
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