Second weddings are very common with the rising divorce statistics in this country, and are developing an etiquette all of their own.
Widows and widowers
Of course if you have been married before and your spouse has died, you are quite free to get married in church. Generally a full white wedding with all the trimmings will not be appropriate if the bride has been married before, but may be totally appropriate if it is the groom who is the widower. If the bride is a widow she and the groom will probably share the cost of the wedding, although there is nothing to stop her parents making a contribution.
Where to marry?
Until recently it has been very unusual for Anglican ministers to marry a couple where one of them is divorced and the divorced partner is still living, but there are moves afoot to change this. The Catholic church will only marry a divorced partner if the previous marriage was a civil ceremony (which is not recognised by the church) or if it was annulled. Other denominations tend to act according to the consciences and the preferences of the individual ministers, and their attitudes may vary widely. Remarriage in a synagogue is permitted if both partners have a Get, a Jewish religious certificate of divorce; a civil certificate is not enough. Many couples choose to marry in a registry office if one or both is divorced. Please don’t forget before you go to your favourite location to order on time your vintage wedding rings from our goldsmiths.
If it is the bride s first wedding, her family usually contributes towards the cost and hosts the wedding and reception in the usual way. If the bride is divorced, she and her husband-to-be will generally share the costs, but her parents may still offer to pay. If they do host the festivities the invitations can be sent out with the wording: Mr and Mrs Alan Smith request the pleasure of your company at the wedding of their daughter, Alice Higginbottom, to Mr Alexander Jones. If the couple are sending out the invitations themselves they can make them as formal or informal as they wish.
The divorced partner may have some difficulty over wedding guests; many that he or she wants to invite may have been good friends during their previous marriage. However, if there is any doubt they can always be invited anyway,
and they have the freedom to refuse if they feel they cannot attend. It is not tactful to invite your former spouse unless you are still on extemely good terms. If you have any children by your previous marriage you should invite them and leave it up to them and your former partner whether they come or not, unless you are having a very small, quiet wedding. If you want them to take an active part in the service, for instance as attendants, ushers, ring bearers, etc, make sure that this is acceptable to your former partner.
What to wear
If the bride is divorced or widowed, it is not really appropriate to go for a full traditional white gown and veil, as these are the symbols of virginity and innocence. However there is nothing to stop you looking pretty and choosing a special dress or outfit in an attractive colour. Some churches may discourage you from having attendants, flowers, bellringing, choirs, etc, if you are remarrying after a divorce; once again it is important to enquire about all these details in good time before you set your heart on a particular kind of ceremony.
Some people going through second weddings (or first ones, for that matter!) prefer to keep the ceremony as quiet and private as possible. In this case they may simply invite their very closest friends and relations, or may even choose to get married in front of two independent witnesses such as clerks from the registry office. If the wedding has been quiet,- the couple may announce the news in notes – handwritten or printed – to their friends and relations after the event.
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If the bride has been married before she will presumably already have the household things that she needs, but people may still wish to give presents to the couple. If so, it is worth making a friendly enquiry as to what kind of present would be acceptable.