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How To Plan A Second Wedding

My sister announced at the weekend that she is getting remarried. This will be her second marriage. My family and I are so excited for her that she has found love again and that she is brave enough to put her faith in the institution of marriage after an acrimonious divorce.

All the wedding talk at her engagement announcement party got me thinking about planning a wedding second time around. It is a totally different scenario to organizing your first wedding - you are older (usually this is the case - I think Britney Spears’ two weddings within nine months of each other is quite unique), wiser and will have more experience of your expectations not just for your second wedding day but also your second marriage!

Whether it is due to divorce or death of a spouse increasing numbers of people are making a trip of the aisle for a second time. According to WeddingGazette.com 4 out of every 10 weddings nowadays are second marriages for one or both partners. According to the US Census Bureau one-third of couples getting married in the USA have been married before and every year nearly one million American women marry for the second time. You are in good company if you are planning on saying “I do” for the second time - Madonna, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Britney Spears and more recently Pamela Anderson have all enjoyed a second trip down the aisle.

If you too are thinking about taking the plunge again then here are some top tips and advice for making your encore wedding even more unique and memorable than your first.

Announcing Your Engagement

If you have children

♥ Once you are engaged the first people you should tell are your children. You definitely need their approval of your future nuptials before you can start making any plans.

♥ You should inform your children of your engagement as soon as possible so that they have plenty of time to adjust to the idea. We are bombarded by the media, particularly by television shows such as "The Brady Bunch", with images of perfectly blended stepfamilies. Of course there will be tears and turbulence as your family unit changes size with your second wedding but becoming a proper united family is not an unattainable feat - it just needs time and perseverance!

♥ You should definitely let your children decide for themselves if they want to participate in your second wedding.

If you are a widow or widower

♥ If your first spouse died then you will need to be sensitive to your deceased spouse's families' feelings. Out of respect for the family you should let them know in person (if you have children by your deceased spouse and remain in constant contact with the family) or by letter (if you have become distant from them and are not used to telephoning them or seeing them in person) that you are remarrying.

♥ Whether or not you invite your deceased spouse's family to your second wedding is a very delicate etiquette issue. If your children (their grandchildren) are participating in your wedding then consider whether they would enjoy attending so that they could see this. Use your own judgment as to whether you think it would stir up too many sad memories for them (and you). Second weddings do present social and emotional issues such as this - it comes with the territory I'm afraid!

If you are divorced

♥ If you are divorced without children then there is no need for you to mention your second marriage to your ex-spouse unless you are on good terms with them and keep in touch with each others news.

♥ If you are divorced with children then you must let your ex-spouse know about your upcoming nuptials. If your children are old enough then you can ask if they would prefer to tell their parent about your second wedding or if they want you to break the happy news. You should try to let your ex-spouse know as soon as possible after you have told your children about your engagement, so that your children do not have to keep it a secret and will free to discuss your upcoming wedding openly.

♥ If you are not on speaking terms with your ex then you could put your news in a letter to them and mention that you have explained it to your children and that your wish is for your children to be a part of your wedding day. Although as co-parent you don’t need permission for your own children to participate in your wedding ceremony, it would make things easier all round if your ex-spouse was consulted at an early stage so that any objections could be aired and discussed and you could guarantee their full co-operation with your upcoming wedding plans.

Organizing your second wedding

When it comes to organizing a second wedding many couples choose to spend less time planning the wedding event than they did first time round and more time enjoying the run up to their wedding day. Second weddings are usually smaller and more intimate but there are no rules if you want a repeat of your first extravagant wedding. Some brides, (such as my sister) who had only a very small wedding first time round, enjoy the thought of an elaborate second wedding. My sister admits that this time round she knows exactly what she wants for her wedding day as she has attended innumerous weddings since her first wedding 12 years ago.

The advantages of organizing a wedding second time around are:

♥ You know the pitfalls and what could go wrong as you have probably experienced a few with your first wedding.

♥ You have a better idea of what style and theme of wedding you want as you have more experience of weddings you have attended over the years.

♥ You are free to create any kind of wedding you and your partner want - be as creative as you want (so long as your budget allows it!).

♥ You can invite who you want to your wedding this time round without the restrictions of having parents impose their choice of guests on you.

♥ Hopefully you are in a better financial position than you were when you first got married so you might be able to afford all of the luxury extras for your second wedding that were not within your first wedding budget.

According to Vibride.com Dee Merz, a wedding consultant with Everlasting Memories in California, says that she enjoys organizing second weddings.

“The brides know themselves better as women and they rarely break a sweat when making decisions. Grooms play a much bigger role in the planning, and every choice is geared to reflecting the couple’s unique personalities.”

Top tips when organizing your second wedding:

Venue

♥ You can host your wedding anywhere second time around, there is so much choice. I know many bride and grooms who have remarried for the second or third time in a church. Just because you are a divorcee does not automatically mean that you must remarry in a Registry Office or at other licensed premises and have a civil ceremony. If it is important to you, your partner and your family to have a religious ceremony then enquire of your local church about their policy for second marriages - some churches are stricter than others. With second marriages becoming increasingly common most ministers will understand your situation and will help you to reach a solution if you have your heart set on a religious wedding ceremony.

♥ Destination weddings have become increasingly popular for second marriages, particularly those with children as the ceremony can be incorporated into a fun family holiday!

♥ Bear in mind that it would be in bad taste to host your second wedding in the same location as your first wedding!

Legal requirements

♥ It goes without saying that in order to remarry you will need to supply the registrar with either a decree absolute proving that you are legally divorced from your first spouse, or a death certificate if you are widowed. Make sure that your paperwork is in order well in advance of applying for your marriage license.

♥ In a second marriage where children are involved ensure that you seek appropriate legal advice with regard to financial and inheritance aspects of your union and guardianship issues.

Vows

♥ Vows for a second wedding are another emotive issue which need delicate handling. Of course you promised to "love, honor and respect for all eternity" your first spouse so what do the words really mean if "eternity" turned out to be just a couple of years! The important thing with wedding vows is that you say them with confidence and believe them yourself at the time of saying them to the person you have chosen to marry.

♥ If you are looking for alternative ideas for wedding vows for your second wedding Idotaketwo.com has some unique wordings which could help you.

Wedding traditions for a second wedding

♥ The tradition of having a wedding cake is the same for a second wedding. However, according to Vibride.com throwing the bouquet, wearing a garter and throwing confetti are not proper etiquette for a second wedding. I have seen all of these things done at second and third weddings so I think it is just a case of do whatever feels right for you on your wedding day.

♥ You probably already have an album full of photos from your first wedding that you rarely look at nowadays but don't let this put you off having a photographer at your second wedding. Of course you will want a record of your second wedding, especially if it is the first wedding for one of you.

♥ When it comes to the question of walking up the aisle you might think it improper to ask your Father or whomever gave you away at your first wedding but there are no etiquette rules about this for second weddings. You can walk up the aisle alone, on the arm of your Father, Mother, Brother or even child if you want.

♥ The decision of whether to have attendants at your second wedding is, again, entirely up to you. There are no rules about this. Guests usually expect at least a couple of attendants at second weddings. Don't worry if you want to ask your friends or family to repeat the performance they gave as attendants at your first wedding. It is not seen as unlucky to ask the same attendants who stood by you at your first wedding to stand by you at your second wedding. A friend of mine has been Best Man at both of his brother's weddings.

♥ Bridal Showers are still appropriate for second weddings. You probably have new friends since you first married and they will want to help you celebrate your impending nuptials regardless of whether or not you have done it all before. You can choose to have a more moderate bridal shower if you prefer.

Involving Children in a Second Wedding

If you and/or your partner have children from your own relationship or from previous relationships then you will undoubtedly want them to participate in your wedding plans. The best way to make children feel involved in the whole process of organising a second wedding is to include them in the wedding planning. It is not just you who is getting remarried, so too are your children!

Whilst your choice of spouse has been your decision you should allow your children some say in your wedding planning. Discuss with them their thoughts on your second wedding and ask them how they would like to be involved. You should refer to it as "our" wedding day rather than solely yours and your partner's.

According to Jill Curtis, author of "How to Get Married Again: A Guide to Second Weddings" (available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk) she says,

"My research showed that children not included in at least part of the ceremony often find it more difficult to accept the stepparent. One dilemma may be for a child who thinks her "other" parent may well feel left out and not want the child to take part in a second wedding ceremony. Will it be seen as a betrayal? Or acceptance of the new stepparent?"

Make your children feel wanted and needed by giving them a role in your wedding day. Here are some ideas for ways to include them in your second wedding:

♥ Try to include something symbolic within your wedding ceremony which will signify to all present that you, your partner and your children coming together as a unified family.

♥ Some couples present their children with rings during the wedding ceremony.

♥ It is becoming increasingly popular to include a family vow after the bride and groom's vows during the wedding ceremony where children join the bride and groom to recite some words and have their new blended family blessed.

♥ Daughters can act as maids-of-honor or flower girls.

♥ Sons can stand as "best men", ushers or ring bearers.

♥ Ask your/your partner's children to walk you down the aisle and give you away.

♥ As a family stand at the altar and light a unity candle together.

♥ Ask children to be in charge of the guestbook.

♥ If they are confident speakers they could make a special toast during the wedding reception.

♥ Offer them the chance to give a reading during the wedding ceremony.

Some additional points to remember:

♥ Whatever role you or your children choose for your second wedding make sure that they are comfortable with it.

♥ Ask a family member to keep an eye on your children on your wedding day if you anticipate that you will be too distracted to keep a watchful eye on them.

♥ Remember that your wedding day marks a new beginning for your children too and it can be confusing for them, whether they are 3 years old or 15 years old.

Jill Curtis says,

"A wedding is a landmark in any family and those adults and children who have been burned by the fallout of an earlier divorce or death of a parent will be particularly sensitive to the meaning of the occasion. With some planning, a lot of discussion, and a little bit of luck, it will be a day memories are made of."

♥ If you are divorced you might find that your children have always had a secret fantasy that you and your ex would get back together again. Your second wedding will put an end to this hope so treat your child sensitively.

♥ If your split from your ex-spouse was acrimonious your impending second wedding might stir up painful memories for your children. I know that my 10 year old nephew worries that he will see his Mum be hurt again (bless him!). The best thing you can do as a parent about to embark on a second wedding is to reassure your child that this is a different situation, you are different, you are stronger and the person you are marrying is your soulmate who you want to share your life with.

To compare or not to compare?

♥ Try not to compare your second wedding to your first wedding. My sister has already begun to start sentences with “At my first wedding we had this/we did this…”. This is a definite no-go area for anyone planning their encore wedding. Your fiancé, his family and also your own family and friends do not want to be reminded of your first wedding. This wedding which you are planning now is a unique occasion and should be treated as such, not judged against your first trip up the aisle.

♥ It is an undeniable fact that guests who were present at your first wedding will compare it with your second wedding. I hold my own hands up and admit I have done it myself when I have attended first and second weddings. There is no way to prevent your guests from doing this so you should just come to terms with it before your wedding day.

♥ Don't go overboard trying to plan your second wedding to be a polar opposite of your first wedding. At the end of the day so long as you and your partner are happy with your wedding plans and do everything you can to ensure your guests enjoyment then you can't do more than that. Inevitably there will be similarities between the two weddings - besides everything else they will both involve rings, vows and celebrations of some sort!

♥ With your wedding speeches it is usual for the Best Man, Father of the Bride, Groom and even the Bride to make a reference to the lives of the bride and groom before they met and traditionally some reference to exes would be made. Tread very carefully here! It would be seen to be in poor taste if your first stab at marriage is referred to at your second wedding. You don't want to make your guests, your new partner or your children feel uncomfortable on your wedding day.

Footing the bill for a second wedding

With second weddings where the bride has been married before it is normal for the bride and groom to split the costs of the wedding between them. You should definitely not expect either set of parents to pay towards your second wedding. If it is the bride’s first wedding but the groom’s second, then you will probably find that the bride’s parents will want to contribute towards the wedding costs. It is also quite common for one or both sets of parents to offer financial help towards the wedding costs. In this case you should weigh up whether you want to accept their kind offer as financial input being given by parents can sometimes equate to organizational input being expected with your wedding. One of the main advantages of paying for your own wedding of course is that you are free to make your own decisions when planning the wedding without having input from your parents.

If you are paying for the wedding yourselves then you should create an affordable wedding budget and stick to it. As with any wedding it is possible to have your dream wedding at an affordable cost, but I think this is the case more so with second weddings as you do not need to pull out all of the stops. Second weddings for brides are more about starting a new life with your new husband than about having the expensive dress, breathtaking table ceterpieces, stylish wedding favors and other wedding paraphernalia. That being said, if you can afford it then why not go ahead and organize the extravagant wedding you have always dreamt of!

Invitations

♥ As mentioned, it is completely up to you and your partner whether you choose to have a small wedding attended only by immediate family and close friends or a larger wedding inviting everyone who is important to you both.

♥ Inviting an ex-spouse to your second wedding is thought to be bad form. It depends on your personal circumstances whether or not you want to invite your ex to your wedding. Demi Moore invited Bruce Willis to her nuptials with Ashton Kutcher and at her wedding earlier this month Pamela Anderson asked new husband Kid Rock’s ex Tamara Mellon to be her bridesmaid! If your ex-spouse is a co-parent of your children then your children might feel more at ease at the wedding if they too are invited. You should do what you and your fiancé feel comfortable with - it is your wedding day!

If you and your partner are hosting your own second wedding then the invitation should be worded along the lines of:


Hannah Hopkins
and
Muir Mackintosh
Request the pleasure of your company
At their wedding
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

If it is the bride’s first wedding and her parents are contributing financially towards it then you might prefer that they host the wedding, in which case the invitation could read as follows:


Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey Thompson
Request the pleasure of your company
At the wedding of their daughter
Hannah Hopkins
to
Muir Mackintosh
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

If you have children you might like to include their names on the invitations or even have them named as hosts of the wedding (this would make them feel very included and very special!).

Paul and Mark Hopkins
Request the pleasure of your company
At the wedding of their Mother
Hannah Hopkins
to
Muir Mackintosh
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

Check out Weddings.about.com for more ideas and inspiration for wording invitations for your second wedding.

Bridal Attire for Second Weddings

The most important thing for any bride on her wedding day whether it is her first, second or even eighth wedding (à la Elizabeth Taylor!) is that she feels comfortable, confident, relaxed and, most importantly, beautiful. No matter how many times someone has been married they always want to feel and look like a princess on their special day!

As an encore bride you should not feel restricted about your choice of wedding attire. Old traditions used to point second time brides away from full length gowns, veils and the wearing of ivory or white for their subsequent nuptials but this is no longer the case. You can choose any color or style you wish so long as it suits your age and flatters your figure. If you are a mature encore bride then you are unlikely to want to wear a Cinderella ball gown; you might prefer to choose a simple yet elegant sheath dress, suit or a less formal wedding gown and accessorize with a hat, decorative headpiece or tiara rather than a full veil. According to Nina Callaway of About Weddings,

“Most brides getting remarried have already had their "Princess in a white dress" moment the first time around, and so opt for a more mature look such as a brocade suit or a simple cocktail dress. However, if you eloped the first time, or simply want to have that Princess moment again, there's no reason why you can't. In fact, as divorce and remarriage becomes an evermore regular part of our society, the possibilities for what a second wedding dress can be are endless”.

To help you decide what style of wedding attire is appropriate for your second wedding you should first decide what type of wedding ceremony you are having. Are you having a traditional church wedding, outdoors wedding, destination or beach wedding? If, like Pamela Anderson, you choose to have your second wedding aboard a yacht anchored off of St Tropez, then this will dictate your style of wedding attire (in her case a white string bikini - not every encore brides' first choice I’m sure!).

Wedding Gifts for a Second Wedding

One of the main questions which crops up amongst brides, grooms and also wedding guests, is whether it is acceptable to ask for wedding gifts from guests at your second wedding. This is particularly pertinent if you have invited family and friends who already bought you a gift for your first wedding.

Wedding etiquette states that buying a gift for a couple who are getting married for the second time is definitely not mandatory. Wedding gifts are traditionally given to help a couple set up home together. Nowadays most couples live together before they walk down the aisle and so already have an established household with the requisite amount of crockery, toasters and wine glasses.

You should definitely consider registering for wedding gifts as the majority of your guests will want to buy you a gift (especially if it is a first wedding for one of you). Although typical wedding gifts may not be appropriate for a second wedding, you could consider registering for fun gifts such as equipment for a shared hobby (I attended a second wedding where the bride put golf clubs and lessons on her wedding wish list so that she could share her new husband’s love of the game!), artwork, sculptures or ornaments, a selection of fine wines, vouchers for activity days out (perfect if you have children you can share these with), plants for your garden or a donation to be made to a charity of your choice.

Keep in mind that some of your invited guests might well have been generous with their first wedding gifts to you, so if you are planning to register or ask for gifts then don’t feel hard done by if they choose not to buy you a gift or only buy you a small token gift. Surely the most important thing is that they choose to share your special day!

Personally I would have no problem buying a gift for a couple whose wedding I was invited to, even if I had already bought a gift for their previous wedding (though if it was the same two people remarrying then I would probably only buy a token gift). In my sister’s case she and her fiancé are already talking about their honeymoon which will include my two young nephews, so I suggested to her that she register for travel gift vouchers. There is a great article at Honeymoons.about.com which explains how honeymoon registry websites work. By using one of the free websites mentioned in the article you can list all of your honeymoon expenses including airfares, accommodation costs, excursions, meals, spa treatments, spending cash and even luggage on a website which is accessible to your wedding guests. This means that your guests can purchase whatever aspect or make whatever contribution towards your honeymoon they wish. If, like my sister, this idea appeals to you then you might also want to take a look at Weddingmiles.com where you can set up a registry for your guests to buy you frequent flyer miles to put towards your honeymoon or future travel once you are married.

Honeymoon Plans

Whilst many newlyweds enjoy some time to themselves on their honeymoons, it is becoming more common for couples to include their children in their honeymoon plans after a second wedding. The honeymoon presents a perfect opportunity for blended families to spend time together and share bonding experiences.

As mentioned, my sister intends on taking her two children on her honeymoon (it was her fiancé's idea!). My youngest nephew is obsessed with elephants so my sister has already mentioned that they are considering all going on a safari holiday in Africa - what a perfect way to kick-start their new life together as a family. I am sure they will share lots of great memories from the trip and get to know each other even better!

If you are lucky enough to get a second chance at marriage then I think you should ignore the statistics that say that the chances of a second marriage ending in divorce are 60% compared to 50% of first marriages. Inevitably you will be apprehensive about saying "I do" for the second time but let your hope and optimism shine through for your second wedding. Have confidence in the fact that you are a different person from the one who got married the first time - you are older and wiser second time around.

Resources I recommend for planning your encore wedding:

1,001 Ways to have a Dazzling Second Wedding by Sharon Naylor available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

This guidebook is perfect for women planning their second weddings. It provides the most current and applicable how-to's on such touchy subjects as: gown choice, family participation, guest diplomacy, gifts, bridal party choices, invitation wording, reception planning, religious requirements, and legalities.

Listen to this discussion about the etiquette of getting married again? Questions include what do you wear and do you have a present list? She discusses this topic with Sandra Boler consulting editor of Brides Magazine and journalist Eve Pollard.

Read this New York Times article on on how couples are embracing second weddings as wholeheartedly as first their one. Written by MarcS. Fischler, it offers an excellent insight into the whole subject of encore weddings.

More second wedding websites to check out:

Take2weddings.com - Offers marriage advice and inspirations from how to tell your children you are getting married the second time around to choosing your dress.
Idotaketwo.com - All the second wedding ideas you'll need to plan your remarriage! Leave questions on the second wedding forum and an expert will respond with an answer.
Brideagain.com - Bride Again is designed for the encore bride. It is targeted to women over 30 who have been married at least one before, have children from a previous marriage or are marrying someone with children and are currently planning to be remarried.
Encorebridemagazine.com - Thoughts, suggestions, reflections, and opinions For re-wedding brides.

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78 Free Wedding Tips And Book

As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore. For example tips on wedding djs, getting guests to mingle, giving a great speech and tipping wedding suppliers to name just a few!

To give you a flavour of what to expect I have copied the types of wedding tips you will receive below:

Sample Tip 1 :

At the reception hall, fill baskets in the bathroom with miniature hand lotions, breath mints, hair sprays, and hair gels for emergency touch-ups. You may also want to put out a basket with a few inexpensive pairs of pantyhose and
some clear nail polish.

"Thanks for all the tips..and for making them genuinely "free".... the tips I found most helpful of your's were about etiquette ... it helps to remind brides of other people's feelings when they are getting caught up in their own! And that idea about giving framed pictures to the parents is one I will definately do! Blessings!" - Suzanne, US

Sample Tip 2 :

Don’t forget grandparents and other relatives who may feel “left out” during the preparations before the wedding. Take a camera along when you are shopping for your dress or looking at flowers.

Send pictures with a quick note that says, “Here’s me rubbing my feet after trying on shoes that were murder!” Or “Aunt Joan, the flowers were beautiful, but I wish you could have been there.”

"Just wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful tips! I enjoy reading them every week!! I will use you're advice throughout the planning of my wedding and on the big day! Thanks again" - Dan

Sample Tip 3 :

For bridesmaids' dresses, consider separates, especially if you have attendants whose sizes and shapes vary widely. Skip the bridal stores and check out department stores for evening skirts and separate tops that are made of luxurious fabrics and trimmed with beading or embroidered details.

"Dear Emily your tips have been very helpful to me in planning for my wedding thank you for all of your help, looking forward to receiving other tips from you. Best Regards" - Cornelia, US


Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding

Hi Everyone,

I received this question from a bride-to-be regarding how to handle divorced parents in the run up to and during your wedding:

My parents are divorced and although both of them seem happy that I am engaged to a wonderful man my Mum is hesitant about me getting married; I think because of the way that her marriage ended. I am also very worried about how my parents will behave on our wedding day. We haven't booked anything yet but I don't want to be worrying on the day about my parents hurting each other. It's not as if they can't stand being in the same room together but my Mum often gets hurt and is sensitive to what my Dad says. What can I do?


This was my reply:

It is totally understandable that your Mum is hesitant about your future marriage. With the statistic that in some US states 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce its enough to make anyone pessimistic about a marriage working.

Make it clear to your Mum that you are fully aware that the divorce rate is high but you are optimistic and believe that you are lucky enough to have found your soul mate. Explain to her how much you love your fiancé and how your relationship is different to her and your Dad’s. You should reassure your Mum that every marriage is different and not all marriages end like hers. Remind her that she had good years with your Dad and you were a product of that, which I am sure she would not change for anything!

Whilst the prospect of your marriage should be a happy one for your Mum, try to understand that it is bound to stir up bitter-sweet memories for her of her own wedding day. Your Mum will have been anticipating your wedding day since you were a little girl and I am sure that she wants it to be perfect for you.

Point out to your Mum that as you have lived through and experienced second-hand the demise of her marriage, it has given you the knowledge of pitfalls which can occur in a married relationship and how to deal with them.

Try not to let any of your Mum’s negative feelings towards marriage influence how you view your future nuptials. Remember that your relationship with your fiancé and indeed your wedding day are unique to you. Enjoy the wedding planning process - this should be the most fun part for you and your fiancé.

There are bound to be difficult situations for both you and your parents on your wedding day. It is only natural that you are worried during your pre-wedding planning stage about how your Mum and Dad will behave on your big day. You want your wedding day to be perfect without any embarrassing or awkward confrontations. You say that they are able to be in the same room together - well, that is a start!

I recommend that before you start organizing your wedding and booking venues, setting a date etc. that you sit down and talk with both of your parents. Preferably you should speak to them both together or, if this is not possible, separately. Whilst you should not have to remind them of what is and is not acceptable behavior for your wedding day, you should communicate your concerns about possible clashes between them.

Remind them that they just have to get on together for one day which is important to you. Inevitably your parents’ thoughts will drift to their own wedding day but you should remind them that your impending nuptials are a time for looking forward, not into the past! The best scenario you can hope for is that they put any bad feelings they have for each other aside and come together to support you on your wedding day. At the very least they should be able to be civil to one another and maintain a cool composure in front of your wedding guests. They may be divorced but they do have something major in common, namely you!

Discuss with them your hopes and expectations for your wedding day and what roles you wish them to play in it. The more detail you can give your parents the better, so that they know exactly what to expect on your wedding day. Ensure that your parents both understand the logistics of your wedding day. They should know when and where they will be expected to be during your ceremony and reception. Avoid confusion and let them know this information as far in advance as possible - this is crucial to the smooth running of your wedding day.

I am sure that as child of divorced parents you have had to suffer divided loyalties before, but during your pre-wedding planning just try to take into consideration both of your parents’ feelings. They will both want to feel equally important on your wedding day. Ask them to tell you their apprehensions about your wedding day and try to come up with solutions which accommodate both of their requirements.

From what you say, it sounds like your Mum is quite a sensitive person, perhaps more so when in the presence of your Dad. Let’s face it, her daughter’s wedding is going to be an emotional day for her anyway so do expect some tears from her! However, there are some precautions you can take to preserve her emotions and ensure that there are no full-blown family dramas between your parents on your wedding day. Here are my tips for dealing with possibly difficult aspects of your wedding day.

Seating divorced parents

It is understandable that a common concern for a bride whose parents are divorced is where they will sit during the ceremony and the wedding reception. Remember that there are no rules about divorced parents having to sit together at their daughter’s wedding.

During the wedding ceremony

If your parents are able to be civil to one another then seat them together in the front row. If you think that this might be awkward and that they would be more comfortable sitting apart then either seat them in the front row and separate them by seating other relatives in between them, or alternatively your Mum should sit in the front row and your Dad in the row behind her with his relatives.

Another solution is that you do away with having a groom and bride’s side of the ceremony venue and advise your guests that they can sit on either side. This would allow your parents to choose where they would like to sit and would eliminate any awkwardness about their decision not to sit together.

During the wedding reception

To avoid awkward moments and stilted conversation on your top table perhaps you should consider the following options for seating your parents at your wedding reception:

♥ A simple solution would be to try the following seating arrangement on the top table: you and your husband in the centre, your husband’s parents (I assume that they are still married as you have not mentioned anything to the contrary) on each side of you, your best man and bridesmaid next, and then your Mum and Dad at opposite ends of the table.

♥ Rather than having parents sit on the top table with you, you could have a “sweetheart table” which is a popular alternative to a top table (David and Victoria Beckham had one at their wedding!). You and your new husband sit at a table for two which can be situated anywhere in the reception venue, although traditionally it is placed in the middle of the room with the other tables of guests forming a circle around it. This means that you could be surrounded by your family and friends and would be free to get up and mingle with them without feeling guilty about neglecting those guests on the top table. You could choose who to seat your parents with at separate tables. They would probably enjoy the reception more being seated amongst their friends and family.

♥ If you decide not to have a top table at your reception then you should not bother to have your parents’ entrance into the reception announced by the MC. Your parents certainly won’t want the additional attention such an announcement might bring to their marital situation.

♥ Undoubtedly your parents will want to be seated in a place of honor at your wedding reception but you might prefer to have them seated at separate tables. You could have your wedding party (best man, maid of honor etc) seated with you at the top table and then your husband’s parents jointly and your Mum and Dad separately host their own table of wedding guests. Their allocated table could be made up of their family and close friends - this will make each of them feel special and is sure to encourage them to relax and enjoy your wedding reception.

Always make decisions about the seating for your ceremony and reception well in advance so that there is no confusion on your wedding day.

Receiving line

Wedding etiquette dictates that you can either have a receiving line or not – the choice is yours! The purpose of the receiving line is to allow you and your new husband to greet your guests. Traditionally the bride and groom’s parents, particularly those who have contributed financially towards the wedding, also join the line to welcome guests to the wedding reception. Many couples nowadays skip having a receiving line at their wedding and perhaps in your circumstances you would prefer to do this too.

If you do decide to have a receiving line at your wedding then you should not stand your parents together in the line - have other members of the bridal party in between them. Check out SuperWeddings.com for receiving line order and etiquette.

Photography

It is best to fully brief your photographer before the wedding day so that they are aware that your parents are divorced and they can treat the photo groupings sensitively. You should not try to hide your parent’s situation from the photographer - they will need to know how to arrange family photos.

Are your parents likely to refuse to be photographed together? To avoid embarrassing situations on the actual wedding day, sound them out about this so that you have advance warning if a family or group photo is unacceptable to both or either of them. It is important that decisions are made regarding the photos and notice is given to the photographer in advance.

I would imagine that you would love to have a photo of yourself in your stunning wedding dress flanked on either side by your parents. If this is the case, then speak to your parents in advance to check whether they are willing to smile sweetly for the camera for such a photo. Explain to them how important a photo of the three of you together would mean to you – a bit of emotional blackmail never fails to work!

Toasting

It is traditional for your Dad to make a speech and toast you and your new husband during the reception. The best advice I can give you to avoid any awkwardness is to speak to your Dad beforehand and ask him to choose his words very carefully. As your Mum is sensitive, and will be more so on your wedding day, remind your Dad to focus on the positives if he is mentioning his own marriage or your childhood in his speech. Nobody wants to hear about their divorce or recriminations or regrets about his own marriage. Weddings are upbeat optimistic occasions and everyone wants to celebrate your relationship not dwell on the fact that some marriages don’t work out! Alternatively if your Mum is concerned that she may not be represented in your Dad’s toast or she wants to express her own happiness at your wedding, then you could ask if she wants to make a toast of her own. The new modern trend with weddings is that you do not have to stick to traditional wedding etiquette. Increasing numbers of couples are allowing other members of the wedding party to make a toast – it adds a unique element to your wedding day.

Bridal Dances

Again, to avoid awkward situations during your wedding reception, decide in advance whether you want the MC or DJ to announce a “parents” dance. Make sure that you tell your parents ahead of time what you are planning to do. If you think the “parents” dance is likely to make your parents uncomfortable then eliminate it from your reception. You could ask for it to be announced as simply a “bridal party” dance and ask the best man, Maid of Honor or other attendants to partner each of your parents on the dance floor. Simply explain the situation to the MC or DJ ahead of time so that they can make the necessary adjustments to their usual wedding line up.

For great tips and advice on how to appease both your Mum, Dad and even yourself during your pre-wedding planning, read this article from the Wedding Gazette.

Surviving the pre-wedding stage when you are caught between divorced parents is the most difficult part. I have personally attended many weddings where divorced parents were involved and there have never been any clashes. Remember that your wedding day is a happy optimistic occasion and your parents’ conflicts should not blight your happiness.

Don’t assume that your wedding day will turn into a battle ground that you have to survive! Whilst it will inevitably be a challenge for you and your parents, you have all survived a divorce so planning your wedding day should be a walk in the park!

Remember it is your day, not theirs!

Thanks for your question and good luck!

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How To Invite Children To The Wedding Ceremony Only

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding inviting children to the wedding ceremony only:

"My daughter is getting married next summer and I am helping her with her arrangements etc. How do you invite some people to the "wedding ceremony only", without hurting feelings? Most of the people in question would be children, ones that really would like to be there. The bride and groom would like the reception to be "adults/or at least legal drinking age" only. The wedding and reception will be held in different locations. Keep in mind that the parents of these children will be invited to both the ceremony and reception. Another reason for this is the tight budget. We are trying to give my daughter the wedding she would love...but on a very tight budget."

This was my reply:

Thanks for your question.

This is a topic which is often the subject of fierce debate amongst couples who are planning their weddings. With today's escalating wedding costs many brides and grooms feel that inviting children to a wedding reception is an unnecessary expense. At an average cost of $60 - 80 a head for catering having children at the reception not only increases your wedding expenses but it also increases your guest list to vast proportions. For most couples if they have to make a choice between asking 4 special friends to their wedding reception or the 4 children of their friends, the adults will win hands down. Sometimes children just cannot be included.

I think that nowadays it is becoming more popular for couples to plan an adults only wedding reception so I don’t think that you and your daughter need to explain your reasons for children not being invited to the reception. What you do need to do is ensure that you make it perfectly clear to your guests that children are welcome to attend the wedding ceremony but not the reception afterwards.

Invitation wording

The best way to do this is to send two separate invitations, one to the wedding which will be sent to the whole family who are invited to attend the wedding ceremony, and a second invitation which will be sent to adults aged 21 and upwards who are invited to the wedding reception. You should insert the wedding ceremony invitation in with the reception invitation for those that are invited to both events. I think that if you try to combine the two events on one invitation you risk causing confusion.

If you decide to send one invitation with the words "Adults Only Reception" or "Adult Reception" printed on it, it is very likely to confuse the wedding guests and you might well find yourself under fire with lots of phone calls asking for explanations as to who is invited to which event and why. Families need specifics of who is invited to the wedding reception and who is not so that they can make appropriate childcare arrangements.

This is a delicate situation as you don’t want to offend any of the guests with children. It is far better to make it clear to your guests with children from the outset that if they intend on attending your daughter’s wedding that they will have to make alternative childcare arrangements for the duration of the wedding reception.

The worst thing you could do is send out the invitations to the wedding reception and simply leave the children’s names off of it. This would definitely be offensive to parents - you need to make it clear that their children are not invited to attend the wedding reception because it is going to be for adults only.

RSVP

You might well find if you send out "Adult Reception" invitations that guests rsvp with their children’s names included on it. In this circumstance you will have no alternative but to make a phone call to the guest concerned and apologise that children cannot be accommodated at the wedding reception due to it being for adults only. Although you are not obligated to give guests a reason as to why you are choosing to have adults only, if necessary explain that financial constraints mean that you have to keep the guest list to a minimum. At the end of the day it is your daughter’s wedding day so they should respect her decision.

In the same way you and your daughter must respect a guest’s decision if they decide not to attend the wedding ceremony or reception. Some people are overly sensitive when it comes to children and weddings and can be easily offended. Some parents believe that their children should be invited everywhere! A lot of parents and even people without children will argue that it is rude and improper to exclude the younger members of a family as weddings are supposed to be all about family. In my experience these guests will be in the minority. Nowadays modern parents realize that couples might prefer an adult only reception. At my own wedding I invited children but over half of the parents I invited decided not to bring their children - a lot of them wanted the chance to let their hair down and enjoy the wedding ceremony and reception without having to look out for their children’s welfare. Sometimes parents like a day off!

Gatecrashers

Do bear in mind that some guests might ignore the invitation and turn up at the reception with their children anyway. All you can do in such circumstances is either make a place for the child at the parent’s table or politely tell them that although you would love for their child to join in it is not appropriate as it is an adults only party. Inevitably the whole family will feel insulted and leave but that is something you will just have to grin and bear - it is rude to bring an uninvited guest to a wedding even if it is your own six month old baby! Some parents believe that their children should be invited everywhere.

A possible solution for guests with children

If you are aware of guests who would like to attend your daughter’s wedding but who will be put off by the “adults only” theme to the wedding reception then perhaps there is a solution. You could suggest to them that a few of them group together and arrange for a hotel bedroom to be used as a sort of crèche for their children (this is assuming that your daughter’s reception is being held in a hotel). They could hire a couple of qualified babysitters (depending on how many children there are), the hotel could arrange to have DVD player put in the room (if there is not one there already) and the children could be entertained at their own mini party! It is important that your guests understand that if the children are being entertained on the premises where the reception is being held, that the same rules apply – children are not invited to join in with the wedding reception! This solution would be perfect for out-of-town wedding guests who want their children to travel with them. You do not have to feel obligated to arrange this or pay for it on behalf of the guests but you could suggest it to them. I’m sure they will appreciate that your are trying to help them sort out their childcare arrangements.

Having an adults only wedding reception puts a different slant on the evening. You can concentrate your planning on making it a real party atmosphere. It does take pressure off you knowing that you just have to cater for adults with your choice of menu, entertainment, timings, venue facilities etc. You can organize a reception which probably would not be suitable for children, such as a cocktail hour and dancing going on to the wee hours.
Be warned though - you might be saving money not having to pay out for children’s meals but those parents let loose without their children for the night will drink your bar dry!!

I hope you enjoy your daughter's wedding - how exciting!

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Discover Ken York's "Father Of The Bride" Wedding Advice Blog
Date: July 13, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Family & Relationships & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

Have you ever wondered how fathers feel in the run up to their daughter's weddings? Well you need wonder no more as a father of a bride-to-be has come up with an innovative new blog offering advice designed to help other fathers of brides to give away their daughters without taking out a second mortgage!

The concept behind this blog is to chronicle the experiences of its writer Ken York while he helps to plan and pay for his daughter’s wedding due to take place in October 2006.

“I am about to spend more money on my daughter’s wedding than I did buying my first house and first new car combined and 90 percent of the advice I’ve found for fathers of the bride is to be supportive and write checks”.

With 2.3 million couples getting married in the United States in 2006, there are a similarly large number of fathers of the bride who are about to shell out over $20,000 for their daughters’ one-day wedding event. The average wedding today costs $26,800 according to the Wedding Report, yet there is a distinct lack of information oriented towards the father of the bride. From the time the planned wedding is announced, daughters and wives are thinking of how wonderful the day will be and immediately start to mentally review every wedding article, magazine, book, television show and conversation that they have ever had concerning weddings. The father of the bride, on the other hand, probably only has a vague memory of his own wedding day and is a bit lost in the whole planning process.

“As I go through this process people are opening up to me telling about their positive and negative experiences,” said York. “I intend to both post this information along with my research on the blog and in an E-book that I am writing.”

You should definitely point your Dad in the direction of this blog as it offers guy-oriented advice on how to orchestrate/save money on daughter's weddings as well as following Ken's progress as he humorously develops his own strategy for dealing with his daughter’s wedding.

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Wedding Gifts: How Much Money Should A Mother Give To Her Children
Date: May 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Budgeting & Relationships & Traditions & Customs

You are more than welcome to send me your wedding related questions, I will always do my best to answer. Here is a recent question I received:

"Hi Emily, I appreciate reading all of your helpful tips. As a Mother of 5 children. this information will come in handy especially that my son was married last year and my daughter will be married next year.

The question that is looming in my mind is the appropriate gift that should be given to my children. Where I live money is the only gift that is given except in rare instances. So my question to you is what is a fair amount to give? In the case of my son I did what all groom's parents do, Rehearsal dinner etc. For my daughter we will be paying for the entire event except what the groom's parents traditionally pay for. Do I make a distinction based on that or not? Also how much would you recommend giving? I'm sort of stumped and need advice on that. Any suggestions?"

I gave the following advice:

Congratulations on your children's nuptials. I totally understand your predicament as you want to be equally fair to both your son and your daughter with regard to how much you give them as a wedding gift.

The first step is not to feel under pressure about this. I recommend that you examine your own financial state of affairs and determine what the maximum amount of money you can comfortably afford to give to each child is. Traditionally in the UK parents give their children wedding gifts of anything up to £5,000 (approximately $9,000). This is usually equivalent to the average cost of a honeymoon.

Without doubt you will be spending a lot more money on your daughter's wedding than you contributed towards your son's wedding. You should use your own judgement as to whether you should make a distinction between what you contribute to each of your children as a gift. Is your son likely to feel aggrieved that your daughter has garnered more financially through her wedding than he did when he got married? The last thing you want is for any family members to fall out over money.

If you think that in fairness your son should be given more money than your daughter then perhaps after deciding the amount you should speak to your daughter and explain why you intend to give your son a larger cash gift than she herself is to receive from you.

Good luck and remember to relax and enjoy your daughter's upcoming wedding!

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Discover The Good and Bad Reasons For Getting Married!
Date: April 23, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Miscellaneous & Relationships

It may seem silly as you plough head first into the major task of planning your wedding - but I would like to bring to your attention 7 questions you need to ask yourself before getting married.

Relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall has put together 7 questions on the BBC web site.

The first question is pretty straight forward

1. Do we love, trust and respect each other?

I'll let you head over to the BBC web site to check out the other 6!

In fact Paula has also written a page on good and bad reasons for getting married. Amongst the good reasons I like are:

To make a commitment. You've decided that you want to be together forever, knowing each other's faults and failings

It's definitely worthing reading the other 5 good reasons for marrying.

One bad reason for marrying is:

You want a big wedding. The big white wedding may seem like a fairy tale come true, but it only lasts a day. Marriage is (supposed to be) for life.

..pretty obvious, but some people do!

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Dealing With The Touchy Subject of "Money"!
Date: October 06, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Planning & Relationships & Stress

A few weeks ago a bride emailed me to say that as soon as she had announced the wedding date both families seemed keen to give input emotionally and fiancially towards it, which was welcomed with open arms. Her family insisted on covering the cost of the wedding reception and the dress as they are quite traditional in that respect. The grooms family also wanted to help cover the cost of the reception and asked to share the cost. Without meaning to be rude, the bride's parents turned down this offer as they had saved for it since she was born and graceously reminded the groom's parents that their help would be needed for many other aspects of the wedding.

This bride then went on to say that since, the groom's family have become increasingly distant from the wedding plans. They have tried to involve them in each new plan and ask advice but they seem to busy. She added that she had savings to pay for the wedding themselves but accepted her parents help because there are aspects of the wedding are now more than first estimated and consequently the funds don't seem to be stretching as far as they first thought.

Specificially this bride wanted advice on what help the groom's family can give as the wedding gets near and nearer. As outlined money has always been a difficult issue and they are not sure how to ask them without sounding as if they expect them to help fiancially as this is not the case. She understands that they may feel excluded and rejected from the wedding but this was not done spitefully. She would really love for them to get involved but doesn't want them to think it comes at a price which is completely untrue!

So I was asked what is the safest way to go about this issue without treading on any toes but making sure that the bride and groom have enough savings for the wedding of their dreams?

In my reply I started by saying I could sympathise with the difficult situation she and her fiance were in and continued my advice as follows:

It sounds like you enjoy a good relationship with your fiance's parents so do try to talk to them about the wedding. As with all dealings with future in-laws you must be sensitive to their feelings. From your e-mail it sounds like they have felt left out of the wedding arrangements so perhaps have opted to take a back-seat rather than have their offers of emotional and financial support turned down.

If your fiance's parents are financially able to contribute to the wedding then I am sure this will help them to feel included in the whole wedding planning process. Indeed during the months leading up to my own wedding, when I was making arrangements and delegating arrangements to my husband, his parents, my parents and other members of the bridal party, was really enjoyable for me. It would be a shame for this special time to be spoiled for you due to your worrying about your fiance's parents' lack of interest in the run-up to the wedding.

Is there any one aspect of the organisation of the wedding which you can delegate to the Groom's parents to both organise and contribute towards(e.g. organising and paying for flowers for the church/wedding venue and buttonholes/bouquets or the wedding transport)? These are just two examples of the costs which you are likely to incur which are traditional to the reception costs which your parents will be covering.

I would suggest also that you both make a concerted effort to include them in the details of the wedding reception. Despite the fact that they are not paying for this event I am sure that they will be very interested to know what to expect at the reception. For example, you could arrange for them to visit the wedding reception venue and show them around, describe menu plans to them or even, if its not treading on your own parent's toes, to ask for suggestions about music, table flowers, seating arrangements, wine choices etc. Just ensure that they feel included.

Does your fiance maintain a close relationship with his parents? If so, then perhaps it would be helpful to all parties concerned if he could discuss these issues with them and reassure them that they play an important and unique role in your wedding plans. Of course you don't want them to feel like they are being treated like a walking cheque book but on the other hand contributing financially might well help them to feel involved in your wedding. Another suggestion is that perhaps you and/or your fiance speak to his parents about making a contribution towards the honeymoon. That is a substantial cost which I am sure you could use some financial help with.

I understand that you don't want to alienate his parents and it is essential that they too feel included in your special day. Just as your parents have been waiting since you were a little girl for this day, so too have his parents been waiting to proudly stand by and see their son get married.

Good luck on your wedding day

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As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore.
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