You never thought you’d head down the aisle again, but now you’re planning a second wedding.

“Divorce happens. Death happens,” says Lynn Dale, principal at Lynn Dale Events, who also planned her own second wedding.

For older generations, second weddings were hushed affairs. Today people understand the commonality of getting remarried, and they’re ready to celebrate second marriages – just with a little extra thoughtful planning.

Get on the Same Page

Brides and grooms can have different ideas about their big day, so talk about it. “I wanted to run away and elope. He wanted big because he’d never been married before,” says encore bride JoAnna Castle. Castle compromised, and the couple opted for a scaled-back event for 150 family members and friends at their April wedding. “It was a blast!” says Castle.

Know Your Priorities

This time around, you’re older, wiser and know what’s important about this special day with your new mate. “It helps having had the experience before, says Christina Bellantoni, who remarried last year. “Pick the things that matter most to you. Stand your ground and be flexible about everything else.”

Try Something Different

Use the opportunity to redefine tradition. With three weddings between the two of them, Rose Swearingen and her husband wanted their wedding to be something neither of them had done before. The couple decided on a destination wedding. “We are absolutely in love with the Big Island of Hawaii, so we decided to get married there.”

Make it Affordable

Your second wedding may be exactly what you want, but as Courtney Fontenot, wedding planner at Alpha Prosperity Events says, it’s usually what you also can afford. “Encore couples are usually a little more mature and may not be spending the $25,000 to $35,000 on the wedding.”

Say Yes to a Different Dress

Don’t be the mature bride who’s desperately trying to look young. “The princess with the train – that ship sailed the first time,” says Dale. Choose a dress that makes you feel great and reflects your style and the tone of the event. Dale herself chose a sassy, yet age-appropriate Vera Wang mini-dress paired with great shoes.

Honor Your Children

Whether the first marriage ended due to divorce or a spouse’s death, children of all ages can have trouble adjusting to the idea of someone new marrying their parent. “Change is sometimes difficult for kids,” says Fontenot. While children may disagree with the idea of a second wedding, they still need to respect it.

Respect their needs too. It might be a great idea for your children to participate in the ceremony, but they may not be comfortable being the center of attention. Don’t force it, but try to find another way to honor them. For example, Dale created a bouquet that untied into multiple smaller bouquets that she passed out to her and her husband’s children.

Registry Etiquette

Gift registries are important for first weddings, but it’s unlikely you’ll need more stuff for your second. Dale says if your guests ask to give gifts, you can respond, “Your presence is the only present we require,” or ask for charitable donations. “If people ignore a no gifts policy, be gracious,” says Dale.

However, Fontenot says registries for second weddings can serve a different purchase, like providing a honeymoon package, family trip or helping buy large household items.

Enjoy Your Day

The second journey you take to the altar may have come through the painful end of a first marriage, but remember that’s shaped who you are and how you approach this day. “My own spirit was freer in it. That allowed me to enjoy the moment more,” says Bellantoni.

©CTW Features