Planning my second wedding: funny how what was important the last time isn't this time

Updated Sep 26 2016
Guest post by Krista
blog-18
Photo by Whitney Lee Photography. Coloring book by Alicia Traveria.

The first time I got married, I was so concerned about doing everything perfectly "by the book." I spent hours in book stores, searching for the ideal wedding organizer with the most detailed, complete checklist. This became my bible as I diligently followed the checklist and timeline to ensure that everything was done just so. I think I went to at least three wedding fairs, although, I did get to eat a lot of cake that way. I had eight bridesmaids and four usherettes because I didn't want anyone's feelings to be hurt! There were 250 guests, some of which I don't think I had ever met.

When it came to the ceremony, I didn't really care about it. I just picked the standard options the church had. The reception was chicken, cake, champagne, twinkle lights, and tulle. I spent so much money on tradition and listened to everyone's wishes and did my best to accommodate them all. And when all was said and done, I had the perfect, traditional, expensive, generic wedding to a man I wasn't meant to be with.

It's been a few years and I'm engaged and planning for my second wedding. I've grown up a bit and now know more about who I am. Plus, I have the right guy as the groom. This time around, I'm not at all concerned with how things are "supposed" to be done. There is no "book" and I'm not going to please everyone else. We are spending time, energy, and money on the things that are most important to my H2B and me, things that are uniquely us, and things we will remember.

I've realized that all the tulle, champagne, and twinkle lights that were so important last time may make the "perfect" wedding, but it doesn't make the perfect marriage.

Right now, I'm totally consumed with the ceremony, scouring the internet (especially Offbeat Bride!) for just the right words and working with my man to come up with something that clearly represents us. We will be writing our own vows to share with our guests what our relationship means to us. I'll be walking myself down the aisle, after all, it's not like I was given back to my father after my divorce. I'm not sure yet whether I will have any bridesmaids, and if I do, it will only be one or two true friends who have always been there. And our guest list for the ceremony is restricted to immediate family and close friends. The party later on is open to some extended family and friends, but only people that we both know!

My wedding is still over a year away, but this is the last time I'm doing this… and this time, it actually means something. I want to make sure that every piece of this wedding reflects us perfectly, not "by the book." I've realized that all the tulle, champagne, and twinkle lights that were so important last time may make the "perfect" wedding, but it doesn't make the perfect marriage.

As much as I look forward to celebrating with family and friends, the thing I'm looking forward to the most is spending the rest of my life with my favorite person. And that's what it's all about.

  1. Great post! As a second time bride myself, I can totally understand and relate. I too did everything the "right" way, all to appease the masses. This time around we are doing it "our" way, because this time around I know I have the right man, and we know that this is OUR day, not my moms, or to make the guests happy! And I find myself doing the same thing with the vows, really taking our time with them. Funny thing is, my first wedding, I never shed a tear of joy. This time, we are 14 months out and every time I think of standing in front of my man, saying everything I want to say…I start crying (tears of joy)! If I make it through the ceremony coherent, it will be a miracle. Just one more sign that I'm (finally) with the right man! 🙂 I'm going to go text him I love him now! LOL

  2. This was my second time around, as well, and I have to agree with everything you said here. I did everything "by the book" the first time. My ex wasn't really involved in the planning at all and why would he be? He was just "the groom". Wedding planning is for girls, right? So, my mom picked the flowers, bridesmaid's dresses, the colors and the venue, the food and the cake, the officiant and the ceremony. I designed my own dress, but that was all, and it was white. Nine years later we had had a marvelous son, but the marriage was a mess. We divorced.

    This time my husband and I planned everything together. We wrote the ceremony ourselves and had a friend perform it. We had a sand ceremony for my now 10 year old son that he STILL talks about. We had a relaxed, fun dinner and and even more relaxed, fun after party with a fireworks show that lasted for two solid hours. We had a geeky cake, geeky t-shirts and geeky favors. It was the most "us" that it could possibly be. And, honestly, our relationship was the biggest focus of the entire day. Not the food, clothes, cake or fireworks. It felt wonderful. The memories of my first wedding were "meh". The memories of my second wedding make me glow inside.

  3. I feel just the same. Been there and I'm doing that lol. I hope you have a wonderful day that reflexes your future together

  4. I am another second-time bride. The first time took a lot of ideas from "the book," but I referred a lot to the Anti-Bride Guide. We were perfectly happy with the wedding. In fact, I still think it was one of the least painful weddings I've been to.

    I had an off-white dress, but it was just a normal inexpensive formal dress I fell in love with. We had the wedding in a university chapel, with a judge officiating, and a reception in a local restaurant afterward. It was nice and easy, and it fit at the time. But now I'm different, and my new (first-time) FH is different, and we want our wedding to reflect that.

  5. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Do you know that I actually remember telling my best friend when planning my first wedding that it wasn't for me, it was for my parents who very much *expected* a traditional, formal wedding out of me. However, like the writer and many others here, the perfect wedding didn't translate to the perfect marriage.

    My memories consist of all of the things I was NOT allowed to do during my wedding, including (but not limited to…) not wearing a dress that exposed my shoulders to not even daring to think about shoving the cake in my husband's face. All of the *rules*…

    So here I am, 43 and 20 years down the road. I have met the love of my life (and if you want to talk about Off Beat…I am still married and living with my first husband who KNOWS all about this other man and is completely happy and supportive of the love we have found).

    I find as I try to plan this wedding…I am having a very difficult time. I want desperately to *be married* to him…to spend the rest of my life loving him. However, I have absolutely zero interest in planning another wedding. I feel GUILTY about this because I should be really excited right? Maybe I feel ashamed that I failed the first time and don't deserve another wedding?

    That said, you have all given me so many wonderful and creative ideas and inspiration to really focus on the joy I am feeling and let myself go and have FUN. THANK YOU!

  6. I loved this post. I am a 1st time bride, so we are doing this all by the seat of our awesome pants. This is about us, and appreciating the people who have supported us through our long (11 year – High School Sweethearts) relationship, but that hasn't stopped certain family members from asking dumb traditional-wedding-style questions when they should know by now that we are anything but.

    Should be an interesting year. Congrats and good luck on planning your second time around, best time around, last time around wedding

  7. So very true, although I had a last minute lucky escape fromt eh wrong husband. This time aqround doing things very much our way – much to the horror of his mother – but that's half the fun. Our wedding is a celebration of us and our marriage, not the final event.

  8. Can this be posted on a billboard somewhere? I have several friends that are doing EXACTLY the first wedding that is described here.

    • I guess the question is, are THEY happy with it? I know several non-offbeat brides that WOULDN'T have it any other way!!!! If the parents are directing the show, that's another story!

  9. Great post! And because I know you and love you two in real life, reading this became emotional for me!
    You and I both know that the perfect wedding does not equal the perfect marrigae. Thank goodness we have found the right people this time and were given the chance to do things for US.
    Your wedding will be amazing! I can't wait to witness it and your future life together!

    And a note to other brides… my May 22nd wedding was nothing traditional and some people questioned some of the ideas I had (your groom in a black kilt? you in a black dress? serving cheese curds? um…). And you know what? It was PERFECT!!!

    • Definitely not! I'm a first time bride and I watched my friends have pretty much the traditional wedding. I'm left wondering what they would have changed. So glad I realized that my FH and I just don't fit the wedding I had always assumed I would have. I'm with the right person, and our wedding will be celebrating that! Now I can't imagine why I thought I would have to have a big wedding, a white princess dress, my dad giving me away, and all the rest.

  10. Hmm – I think it's good info, but it's also not so easy the first time around.

    Everyone (family) is much more involved and you want them to be happy too because it's obviously very important to them, and maybe you want something traditional too, because that's what you've always envisioned.

    I think a lot has more to do with being with the right guy. A traditional wedding doesn't have to be crappy and it doesn't necessarily mean you don't have a meaningful relationship or won't have a meaningful marriage.

    I think the important part is more that you don't let tradition DICTATE your wedding! There's a big difference between wanting something traditional and wanting something else but doing the traditional because it's expected.

  11. I am a first time bride-to-be, but I can totally relate to everything you're saying. My fiance and I are totally determined to do things our way. Luckily for us though, both of our families are totally supportive of anything we choose to do for the wedding. They know us well enough to know that our wedding will be an "offbeat hoedown", as I refer to it, and they are just happy for us. I can't wait to marry my favourite guy in the world!

  12. great post i actually went thru a two month phase of teying to please everyone or doing everything by the book and a month ago i threw all the maagzines and anything else i had away because it was driving us (me and future husband) insane! Wqe know how we want our wedding and i dont need my ideas tainted by the idea of how a wedding is supposed to be. But its nice to see i havent been the only person suffering from all that stuff. Great post!

  13. I married once… I'd paid for the wedding entire because he was still "finding himself" and I listened to everything everybody else said rather than how I felt because I was unsure if what I felt towards him was "right." Well, lesson learned: listen to my OWN feelings and never doubt them.

    I will be a second-time (and preferably LAST-time) wife to a super-sweet man who really LOVES me. And I have no doubts. I'm so glad, grateful.

    I understand the sentiments in this article… we're doing just the same. I find myself unconcerned with "the details" and if somebody wants to do something, I say to them, "go for it." I'm making sure what I want is done, and that's it. Everything that felt backwards before feels right this time. I am ready for the whole planning part to be over with, though. We marry in late October, three days before my birthday. 🙂

  14. Been there, doing that. First wedding wasprefect, well,except the husband. THis time, I've got the absolutely-perdect-for-me guy. We have been together for many years, overcome many obstacles. I've learned that I need to celebrate whatever is good in my life, so we are having about 100 guests to share our joyful marriage. Ok, our 4 kids + 96 guests….. This time around, it's all about what's meaninful to ME. I no longer care about what's expected.

  15. wow for a second there i thought i wrote this and forgot about it! i totally agree with everything you wrote….it was the exact same for me…then and now 🙂

  16. Thanks for putting into words what I've felt for the last couple of years! I was engaged and planning a wedding four years ago, and then I was un-engaged (in retrospect, THANK GOODNESS)…and then I realized that all the stuff I was so concerned about with the Wedding That Wasn't was stupid. Next time around (whenever that is), I won't be so hung up on what other people want. Thank you for posting this!

  17. As I am a happy single, I have no personal experience with relationships or weddings, but one of the lessons I have taken from this blog is major life decisions need focus, clarity, and a strong connection with who you are. There was a bride on here who had an offbeat hippy wedding the first time and a more traditional-ish one the second time. There was just recently a couple that included a TRADITIONAL Thai ceremony, and I don't think that should suggest he can't think for himself or she caved. Offbeat may shake off unwanted pressures or manipulations, but it shouldn't be seen as some sort of proof you're more together or ready to be married than those who want traditional. That sounds like a person just swapped out what they let go to their head.

  18. Great post! I was an off-beat bride the first time, mostly because as a wedding florist, I'm constantly around by-the-book brides who just seem lost and overwhelmed by the whole thing. Our wedding day was wonderful and, while the man wasn't right, the day was. I wouldn't change a thing about that day. If/when I get married again. It will be about US–as it should be for every couple!

    • never married but same here working with brides as a florist convinced me that the traditionnal wedding is not for me for the exact same thing. How you are planning your wedding gives a good idea how you will be on the day. Bridectulu does not vanish like magic. Simple wedding please, saw the opposite too much.
      my advice to brides: take up as much you can (and want to) and still feel somewhat relaxes and have fun. The stress and managing follows you until the end.

  19. Im also on my second wedding. My first was not me. I wore a cream watters and watters gown, got married at a plantation in june, had family and friends, had pink (barf), purple and cream roses. I wanted red….but NO, not in june is what I was told. Everything was pastel. Some this long story short so I can talk about the good stuff, I married my best friend froom high school who turned out to be a battering sociopath. So doing EVERYTHING by the book made me miserable!!!

    Now, I met an amzing man. He not only loves me but took my daughters in as his own!!! He is just an amazing person! I could not imagine my life without him. Im getting married on my fav holiday—this halloween! I doing a mixture of Edgar allen Poesque, alice in wonderland and masquerade all in one! Im having my red roses, black dress, amazing man, his amazing family, my amazing family and our beautiful daughters!!! I cant wait…..less then 6 weeks away!!!! Yeah!!

    Love your post I soooooooooo related to this!!

  20. I, too, am a second time bride in the process of planning a wedding for May. For my first wedding, it ended up being super-traditional out-do-each-other extravaganza between my mother and my FMIL (now xMIL). It ended up this huge, completely sterile event in a church (despite my wanting an outside, non-religious ceremony). My ex had nothing to do with the planning and kept trying to talk me into listening to his mother, my mother was paying for it all so I just kind of let her go with it.

    This time around, I've found the perfect man and we are planning a geeky, intimate, outdoors, non-religious wedding (with tons of cupcakes, bikers, and classic jazz!) One of our friends is licensed to legally marry people, and plans on wearing his motorcycle getup. We're planning on two small cupcake towers, one with a z-day theme and the other with code vows (I'm still undecided on ABAP or C++). We're also going to write our own vows to share with one another.

    I'm also really glad I've stumbled across this website. Not too many OBBs in my neck of the woods!

  21. Love this! I am in the exact same boat for the first wedding being everything I wasn't, the perfection, the large amounts of people, the expenses, and all for not. This time around, with the right man, it's going to be perfectly us and quaint as I feel a wedding should be. I feel like the first time was just the big show, a facade if you will, of something that was broken and never meant to be, but everyone else just saw this bright white and big wedding to hide the reality of it. I'm so happy to have read this and feel better that It's OKAY to learn and grow after the first time around and that I'm not alone! Thank you for this!!

  22. I love this: "We will be writing our own vows to share with our guests what our relationship means to us."
    I find it sad that some friends and family (probably most) don't understand what our relationship means to us/stands for/how we regard it. I think looking at vows this way will be very helpful when I write my own.

    As someone not at all interested in having children, I do hope the people closest to me will understand my FH IS my family. It's us. That's all. A family of 2. (okay, us plus cat and future dog, but I am omitting that intentionally, in order to get my point across to folks who feel it's not a "family" unless it has children/animals standing in as children.) Thank you to the person who wrote a whole piece about this on Offbeat Family. It really spoke to me.

      • Thanks Megan! Still getting the hang of navigating, so wasn't sure where I saw it. My favorite so far. Made some people mad/defensive when I posted the link to my FB with a sentence about how I wish more people I know would be sensitive to this concept/others' lifestyles. A good indicator that it needed to be heard. That said, I am a mega deleter on FB, so it's gone now. Clean up crew of 1.

  23. This, in a bajillion different ways. I'm not even sure I can expound further. My wedding was fucking amazing, the marriage was not, but this time, THIS TIME, is going to be for realz.

  24. Great post! I am a second time bride as well and I agree with all these situations. We are having a much simpler ceremony at the beach with family only for ceremony and an after party for all our friends at a local bar. My fiancé is the best is such a big part of the wedding, from picking out small details, making matchboxes, putting stickers on favor boxes to even making the flower girl baskets (without anyone forcing him to!) Our wedding is ours and we are so excited to get married in two weeks! (9/12/15) <3

  25. This is exactly how it happened for me as well.

    The second time around I got the courthouse wedding I'd always envisioned (as opposed to the religious service forced on me during the first wedding) with the person I always suspected I should be with (long story). Because we wanted to be married but didn't want to deal with "a wedding and all the traditional trappings," we kept everything SUPER small and focused on the things that were important to us. For example, one important thing for me was having a dress that I loved and felt gorgeous in (I actually hated the first one). According to the bridal shop I went to, a lot of second-time brides say the same thing. Other than that, everything was pretty informal and downright perfect. Flowers from my mom's garden. Photos by the local photography club I'm part of. Dinner at our favorite restaurant. The whole town wishing us well as we walked over to dinner.

    In the end, though, finally being with the right mate is what matters most.

  26. I am not a second time bride but I was engaged and has spent months planning a wedding before I called of the engagement. I have a very large family and there were expectations thrown that I thought were crazy. My mom kept going on about how many veggies needed to be in the buffet line and my aunt did not agree with the wording of the invitations. I also was not looking forward to the craziness of a big wedding. Fast forward many years and I did get married to the best husband! I had a very small wedding (20 people). There were many many.. many hurt feelings that we had decided to have a small wedding but it was the right thing for us. Our guest really appreciated the intimacy of the day as did we. Even as I still get off comments regarding disappoint about not being invited (still +2 years later), I still feel like I made the right decision.

    If you are a first time bride and reading though these messages, take it from a me. If any of their first time experiences are ringing true for you, listen to your heart and talk to your future husband. For me, breaking of an engagement was one of the hardest things I had do but it was worth it. You might be marring the right guy but for all the wrong reasons and it sets a negative tone for your marriage.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.