Wedding Day Advice | Wedding Planning

Second Time Around? Frequently Asked Questions About Re-Marrying

Ah, your big day – the proverbial once-in-a-lifetime experience! Or is it? These days, it’s no big deal to find folks getting hitched for a second time. Whereas once divorcés were subject to a barrage of taboos surrounding their nuptials, nowadays, it’s increasingly common for smitten couples to take another shot at living happily ever after by celebrating a second wedding day however they choose to do it – whether letting loose with all the bells and whistles or a having a pared-down affair with close friends and family.


Should I Tell My Ex-Spouse I’m Re-Marrying?

It’s the decent thing to do. No need to make a scene of it, though – don’t gloat, keep the conversation matter-of-fact and drama-free. Whilst many maintain that exes have no place at a second wedding, this depends very much on your own personal circumstances. If you maintain a good relationship with your ex, with no hard feelings and emotional maturity all-round, feel free to invite them to the wedding (particularly if you have children together).

Can I Have an Engagement Party Second Time Around?

Why not? Do what you feel! A word of warning, though: if you had an elaborate engagement party for your first wedding, friends and family may not warm to another grand occasion (particularly if it wasn’t that long ago) – rather go for a quiet dinner or cocktail party. The same goes for bridal showers, bachelorette’s or hen’s parties and stag nights.

What About Engagement Rings?

There’s really only one rule here – don’t wear rings from previous marriages, whether yours or the groom’s (talk about baggage!). Your engagement represents a new chance at everlasting love, so do start afresh with some brand new bling.

Who Pays For a Second Wedding?

If the bride’s been married previously, don’t expect the father-of-the bride to foot the bill again, especially if you’re an older (read: more established) couple. Remember, he who pays the piper, calls the tune – paying for your own wedding means you can do what you want!

What’s the Gift Etiquette for Second Weddings?

In days gone by, etiquette dictated that gifts weren’t a part of second weddings. Nowadays, this convention is more fluid. Best to leave it up to your guests – accept any engagement or wedding gifts with good grace and don’t begrudge those who choose not to indulge you this time.

What Should the Bride Wear to a Second Wedding?

A divorcée-bride dressed in a long white wedding dress and veil? Watch your grandmamma shudder in horror! Once upon-a-time, wearing white second time around was the ultimate social faux-pas. Previously married brides would opt for a simple, off-white tee-length dress or skirt suit with a hat or fascinator. Today, this style is bang on-trend for any bride, so if you feel it, do it. If you didn’t have your very own ‘princess-in-white’ moment the first time around, though, there really isn’t anything stopping you from going all out now.

Can We Include Our Children in the Marriage Ceremony?

Seeing their parents remarry can be a difficult ordeal for children, so tread carefully. Break the news to them gently and, if possible, include your ex-spouse in the conversation. If they’d like to be a part of proceedings, do encourage them to participate.

Can I Get Married in Church?

Previously, divorcés were barred from remarrying in a Christian church so a simple civil ceremony at the courthouse was the order of the day. Some churches still discourage or disallow it (and Canon law allows them to disqualify divorced candidates), so do check with your particular clergyman. Some notes on the etiquette surrounding a church wedding ceremony for those who’ve done it before:

  • Widows (and now divorcées) are not ‘given away’
  • Strictly speaking, there is no processional down the aisle – the bride simply enters from the side of the church
  • Usually, there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen, although a couple of good friends may ‘stand up’ for the bride and groom
  • Traditional rituals such as throwing the bouquet or tossing the bridal garter are usually reserved for first weddings only.

What Are My Legal Obligations?

It might not be the most romantic aspect of planning a second wedding, but do ensure that all legal obligations are attended to before you say I do again!

  • Verify that you are actually legally divorced – bigamy is a crime in South Africa (except under African customary law) and stranger things have happened!
  • Get your paperwork in order – your marriage officer will ask you for legal proof that your divorce is absolute (a decree nisi won’t suffice).

Consider an ante-nuptial agreement – you didn’t go into your first marriage expecting it to end, but what if it happens again? Be smart and sign up – it’ll save you plenty of tears (and cash) in the eventuality that things don’t work out as planned.

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