Second-Time Bride

Dear Annabel,

I am engaged to be married for a second time, and I’m struggling with some aspects of planning the wedding. It is also my fiance’s second marriage, but his first took place in a courthouse and he didn’t invite anyone, so for his family and friends it will be a first wedding.

I had a pretty big bash the first time around, and I am uncomfortable asking people to do it again. Honestly, if it were up to me we’d just have our parents, my daughter, and a small sweet ceremony. But he wants to celebrate the event by inviting his friends and family, and I completely get that and want him to realize I am equally enthusiastic about our marriage.

The thing is, my first marriage ended in tragedy. My husband, who, unbeknownst to me, had had a drug problem before we met, started using again and became heavily addicted very quickly. I had to leave him, my house, and most of my stuff when my daughter was two months old. No one has seen or heard from him for over two years now. During all of that, my friends and family were amazingly supportive and lovely, and now I think they are very invested in celebrating the good that has come my way — a great daughter, a wonderful fiance, and a fabulous new start.

So my question is, how do I keep the spirit of celebration alive without imposing on my loved ones? One idea I had is to “register” for a charity of some kind — or even two or three to give people a choice — and then their gift to us would be giving to the charity instead of two us. The other idea is to ask the same three women to be in my wedding party, but this time let them wear whatever they want.

We don’t need or want it to be fancy, but we want it to be fun. Thoughts?

Thank you!
Starting Again

Dear Starting Again,

Congratulations on your engagement! All weddings are cause for celebration, but this one sounds especially joyous.

I understand why you don’t want to impose upon guests who are attending for the second time, and I think it’s wonderful that you’re so sensitive to it. Trust your instincts under these unusual circumstances. Embrace the traditions that feel appropriate and dispense with the rest.

I love your idea of allowing bridesmaids to wear whatever they want. These ladies have stood by you through it all, and it will feel great to have them beside you on such a momentous day.

As for gifts, directing your family and friends to charitable contributions is unselfish, but it still requires something of your guests. If you want to simplify things even further, you can skip registration altogether. (“No gifts, please. Your presence is the present!”)

In terms of the wedding itself, my advice is to sit down with your fiance and make a list of the traditions that are important to you (things like cake-cutting or your first dance). Be sure to incorporate these elements, then treat the rest of the event like an exuberant party. Don’t worry about pulling off a lavish affair. Instead, have a bash to celebrate your happiness and thank your loved ones for their support.

Have fun and enjoy this special time!

Graciously yours,


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