Always a Bride Never a Bridesmaid
By Lisa Mirza Grotts
Many first time brides become protocol crazed in planing their wedding, but what happens when the bride gets married again? And again? And then again? Does traditional etiquette still apply or are the old rules tossed out the window? Should she elope, wed secretly or throw a party like royalty? Does it matter?
Nearly 40% of all divorcees remarry, according to Brides Magazine. But what would Emily Post say of the realities of modern day life: couples living together before marriage, women proposing to men, nose rings vs. engagement rings, bridesmaids who may be men?
Here's the current thinking on the protocol of multiple weddings:
The Aisle- Especially for a second (third, fourth or whatever) wedding, it's proper for the bride to walk down alone-if there is an aisle. It is supposedly not proper for her to be escorted by a relative or close friend, since she has been "given away".
The Ceremony-For anything beyond first time nuptials in a traditional church or synagogue, the ceremony will most likely depend on the minister, rabbi, or whoever's facilitating.
Flowers- "A bride of any age does what she thinks is appropriate, and therefore that becomes the right choice," says floral whiz Stanlee Gatti, somewhat evading the question. Experts say white flowers are always in good taste.
Gifts- Sending gifts for weddings other than the first is always a gracious gesture, but not an obligatory one. Many invitations are worded "no gifts please" or "your presence is our gift," both of which are appropriate. In lieu of a gift, making a donation to the couples favorite charity or the purchase of something they can do together such as a week at The Golden Door would be welcome.
While most couples feel it would be gauche to register for any but a first union, wedding consultant Laurie Arons disagrees. "If the couple doesn't say 'no gifts' on the invitation" she states, "they will end up getting them and probably ones they won't use. For a third wedding I think a typical guest would want to enjoy buying something that will last such as silver, crystal or china- which is why registering is not a good idea."
Not too surprisingly Ginger Herrera of the Neiman Marcus Bridal Salon agrees, stating: "Couples with grown children love the high end accent pieces from Lalique, Baccarat and Steuben." Add Neiman's Cynthia Coleman: "Our tastes change dramatically from youthful 20's (first marriage) to the later years - so it's easy to understand why the trend is to mix and match high and moderate priced pieces. Add to what already exists and jazz it up for contrast."
What's hot? Anything metallic, especially silver and gold.
Gowns- In the last 1840s when England's Queen Victoria got married in a white wedding gown verses the traditional "royal silver", white dresses suddenly became the rage.
Queen Victoria's gown would still be in style today, according to Millie Martini Bratten editor of Brides Magazine. "There are many spectrums of white such as the metallics (especially platinum) ivory, and dove gray. For remarriages, women are less likely to wear the princess-style ball gown they may have worn in their 20"s but aim for the more sophisticated style of a sheath of A-line. There's no reason for a bride not to look chic and sexy, whether she's wearing lace, chiffon or tulle."
As white still signifies virginity to many people, a bride with children in attendance may wish to go for ecru or pale pastel. Guests may wear white as long as the bride doesn't. They should not in fact wear anything that calls attention to themselves; the goal is never to upstage the bride.
Experts agree that black used to be the no-no color, but now it's quite acceptable for a women to attend a formal wedding in an elegant black gown.
Veils- Bratten suggests the long veil is still reserved for the first trip down the aisle. "The trend for remarriage is to have shoulder length veils, diamond studded tiaras, and jeweled hair clips." Just having a lonely coiffure works too.
Dorthea Johnson, founder of the Protocol School of Washington, insists, "Today-anything goes for weddings. I recently attended one where both bride and groom were from prominent families. The invitations were done in calligraphy on brown paper bags. The bride wore jeans with a beautiful silk sarin top and the ceremony took place in a field"
In remarriage, a bride may still wish to wear "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue"- providing that they are not the same things that she wore to her last wedding.
Toasts- Johnson contends that the toast at a second, third or fourth wedding should not be too frivolous. When in doubt, she suggests running it by the couple ahead of time to make sure it's appropriate.
Or in the words of a happy third-time bride, "A good man is worth wedding for."