There are moments that feel like betrayal: planning a wedding as a widow

Guest post by Bellaforte

Two years ago, I became a widow after my husband committed suicide. My late husband and I had a Justice of the Peace ceremony while I was pregnant, and we were planning the wedding we intended to have, once our son was old enough to remember it and be involved.

Today, I'm planning a wedding with my high school sweetheart, who I reunited with a little over a year ago. When thoughts of my two weddings overlap, it becomes cause for grief, not joy.

I get asked a million painful, well-meaning questions:

“Is your fiancé going to adopt your son?” No, he is my late husband's son, and that won't change until or unless my son is old enough to choose that for himself.

“Are you going to wear white?” Yes, I am. No, I don't have to explain why to you.

“Don't you think it's too soon?” No, but now I'm wondering if you do…

There are the moments that feel like betrayal:

Is it still okay to have a wildflower bouquet with my fiancé, even though it's what my late husband and I had discussed doing?

How do I show that I'm not trying to replace my son's father, but still involve my son in my wedding to the man who's stepped in and been a dad to him for the last year?

It's hard not to compare them:

My late husband wanted to wear a kilt in his clan's tartan and wanted our son to do so, too. My fiancé hates dressing up with a passion and keeps asking if we can get married in blue jeans.

Some nights, I wake up at 3 a.m. wondering how this happened, how I got to be where I am, and if it's worth it. I love my fiancé. I've loved him since I was a teenager, and even when my husband was alive, I wondered about him. Now, as I plan my wedding with my fiancé, I can't help but remember my late husband, miss him, and still love him.

Traditional etiquette says that if a widow remarries, her wedding should be a quiet affair in respect to her husband's memory. Well, my husband made the choice to not be there to marry me in a real wedding, and regardless of how much I miss him, I'll be damned if I'll deny myself one with my fiancé because of an outdated sense of ownership.

With the help of sympathetic and creative loved ones, so far I've been able to find compromises that work for everyone… but it's still hard.

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Comments on There are moments that feel like betrayal: planning a wedding as a widow

  1. Sending all the love to you. You have it spot on when you say your husband made the choice to not marry you the way you discussed, and to hell with tradition in this regard.

    I am very much looking forward to seeing your upcoming nuptials on OBB. 🙂

  2. Fellow widow here and planning a wedding for the end of September. I think most people assumed that we would have a more ‘low-key’ event but my fiancé has never been married before so we’re doing more! The big dilemma (for me) is what my new name will be after the wedding. I want to honor both men so I’ve decided on having a long last name. As for the wedding, my son will be a big part of the wedding because that is what we *all* want – he walking down the aisle with me and he is the best man. Do what feels right in your heart for your new family. Congratulations on your Chapter 2. 🙂

  3. I got married two and half years ago. three and half years before that I was engaged to a great guy. Tomorrow marks 6 years since he died. I got a lot of grief from people who think I moved on too quickly. I still get grief about it (literally this week someone told me I had no right to mourn my first finance cause I now have a husband).
    I always tell people when someone dies things don’t get easy, they get different, learning to live with the different is how you get stronger.

    Don’t feel bad for still loving your first finance. I still love mine. In some ways, he will always be part of your current relationship, and that’s ok.

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

  4. I can’t imagine the struggle you’re going through, but very brave of you to choose to celebrate your love in the way that makes sense to you and your family. Wishing you much joy on your wedding day <3

  5. Congratulations to your family!
    Thank you for sharing this. Personally I’d be polite and try can take people’s concerns into consideration but only you and your fiancée know whats right for you. Don’t have a quiet affair unless you want to. Have that wildflower bouquet (if it’s still your style). I might even be as bold as to suggest having one of those memorial photos attached to the bouquet of your late husband and then after the ceremony taking them to a special place (possibly his grave if he has one) and giving them to him as a memorial.
    I think weddings are a great celebration of life, and death is a part of life.

  6. I cannot even begin to comprehend the complexity of such a maelstrom of feels. I feel bad enough wanting purple as one of the colors for my second wedding, because it was one in my first! Kudos to you for forging on! And to whomever has such insensitive questions and no filter, may I suggest politely suggesting they indelicately place their opinions in the appropriate nether orifice where such shit should be!!

  7. Even though I am not a widow, I related to the idea of planning a wedding when you’ve already had one. I am divorced and started dating my new partner only about a month after moving out from the home I shared with my ex. We aren’t actually engaged yet, but have talked marriage many times and I believe it’s in our future.

    Anyway, this article spoke to me because even though some criticism about the choices you make comes from the outside, a lot of it ends up coming from inside (or you let the outside stuff bother you more because you’ve had the same thoughts yourself). I question whether any future wedding could have ANY like details to my first wedding, and I feel a little odd about having another full wedding – sometimes I feel like, as a second time bride, I really should just elope. Not that eloping would be bad – after my first wedding I thought I much more would have preferred to elope – but it feels kind of odd to take lessons learned or preferences gleaned from your first wedding and apply them to your second. And then I worry that while I might wish to elope, my partner has never been married so he might want to do a big wedding. And on and on.

    Ultimately where I land is that you just have to own your choices AND your feelings. Acknowledge your emotional reactions and then just sort of forget about them and do what’s right for the two of you as a couple. At least, that is what I will try to do when the time comes.

  8. Speaking from experience on the widow aspect, I got engaged to my fiance only 2 months after my “ex” husband passed away. Technically, we were still legally married when he crossed over although we had been apart and with new partners for 2 1/2 years. A lot of grieving took place in my heart which my fiance worked through with me for an entire 2 years. Ultimately, it was the unconditional love of my fiance which allowed me to heal, as well as giving myself time, patience and releasing so much guilt from our 10 year marriage. I wish you all the best with your new life and know that all will be healed with time and love.

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