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by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer
Wedding experts have produced reams of advice on wedding planning for first-time couples, but much less so about remarriage. Nevertheless, second and third marriages are more common than ever before. Is protocol the same for an encore bride? Here's some frequently asked questions regarding etiquette, ceremony options and blending families.
Q: I'm thirty, divorced, and plan to be married again. My fiance is thirty-two and also divorced. Should he talk to my parents and ask their permission and tell them our plans, or should we tell them together?
A: Sharing this news is something you can do together, unless you know your parents are opposed to the marriage. If that's the case, you should talk to them alone, without your fiance present. That way you can explain your feelings and give them a chance to express their concerns to you. You might want to follow-up with a talk among all four of you, to be sure everyone has had the opportunity to clear the air.
Q: I'm planning a wedding for next year and it's a second marriage for us both. What should I look for when shopping for wedding attire?
A: Wedding etiquette experts suggest you may wish to forego wearing a veil, however a nice headpiece is appropriate. Also, a cathedral length train is not really the best idea, but a shorter (chapel length) train is more suitable. Wearing white is now considered acceptable for encore brides. For men, the situation is much simpler. A second time groom can feel free to wear anything he might have worn the first time around. As always, his attire should compliment the brides in terms of formality.
Q: My fiance has two children from a previous marriage. Should I include them in our up-coming ceremony?
A: Yes! Let them be ushers, bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers, pages, or they can be attendants. That said, don't just assume they want to be involved. Always inquire first. If a child expresses reluctance, don't push them. Reassure the children their presence will be appreciated regardless of their roles on the big day. As a thoughtful gesture, seat them at your table during the reception.
Q: I have children from a previous marriage, but my fiance does not. I'd like to have my children stand up with us during the ceremony, but my mother thinks this isn't appropriate. What do the experts suggest?
A: It is fitting and perfectly acceptable. You might consider letting the youngsters walk down the aisle ahead of the you and the groom. This simple act makes a strong statement that the marriage is a significant step for all involved.
Q: My older sister is getting married for the third time. Our parents will not be at the wedding; but she has a daughter, who is to be her maid of honor. Who gives her away?
A: The bride's daughter can walk her down the aisle and serve as her honor attendant. There's actually more flexibility on this issue for encore brides and no taboo against who gives a bride away at the ceremony. She's free to choose among her father, a sibling, a child of a friend, or to walk down the aisle alone.
Q: I'm concerned about my future husband and his relationship with his ex-wife. We've had disagreements regarding their children and our up-coming ceremony. I need some advice. Should I try to intervene?
A: Generally speaking, no. This will be one of the hardest things for you to do in your new marriage. Leave this situation to him. Even if you feel he's being walked on, when it comes to her, you won't be doing your relationship/marriage any good by taking over the situation or nagging him into doing things. If the situation is important enough to him, he will do something about it himself.
Q: My sister is marrying a guy she's been living with for five years. They're inviting his ex-wife and some of her relatives to the wedding. It just doesn't seem appropriate. Am I wrong?
A: You are entitled to your opinion, and it's true in most instances such an arrangement wouldn't be possible. But as long as your sister is okay with the plans, it's completely acceptable. If she's not okay with it, that's a different story. It's her wedding, and she has a right to feel comfortable! If she's upset about it, encourage her to confront her husband-to-be with her feelings. He needs to know about them as soon as possible.
Q: My soon-to-be stepson said he wants to call me "mom" after our wedding. He's seven years old. I feel awkward about this...should I let him?
A: Of course, let him. How fortunate that he sees you in such a positive light. Cherish the gift and soon the awkward feelings will vanish.
Q: I've heard about a medallion ceremony for second time couples with children. What does that involve?
A: The Family Medallion ceremony has become a popular way to involve children from a previous union in the wedding celebration.
After the exchange of vows, the child or children are invited to join the couple for a brief ceremony. The medallion, featuring three raised circles symbolizing both the marriage of the couple and the creation of the new family, is presented to each child. It can be attached to a ribbon and placed around the child's neck, as a public gesture of love and acceptance.
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