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Alternative Ceremony Ideas for Second Weddings

Photo: Elizabeth Lloyd Photography

A lot of planning goes into making a wedding both unique and memorable. If you're getting married for the second time, you may be looking forward to skipping some of the usual planning woes and getting right to the point: becoming husband and wife. Luckily, the pressure is off because there really isn’t a “traditional take” on how a second wedding should go -- it's really up to the couple’s personal style. In many remarriages, couples may often want to skip certain customary elements, like having a bridal party or escort down the aisle, in favor of something that feels a bit more appropriate and personal.

Since a wedding’s style depends on the personalities and tastes of the bride and groom, the ceremony options for remarriage are endless. Annie Lee, founder and head coordinator of event-planning company Daughter of Design, has worked with many couples looking for a fresh take on their second wedding experience. Here, she offers her top five alternative ceremony ideas for the second-time bride.

You want: To wed in a unique, intimate location
Try this: Host a destination wedding. "[This] is a great way to do something in a different tone and environment," says Lee. "It can be very distant both literally and ideologically from what you may have done for your previous wedding, so as not to draw any comparisons between the two events." This is also a logical pick for couples who want to wed in a causal setting with just a few close friends and family members, or for those looking to combine wedding and honeymoon costs.

You want: To skip the traditional walk down the aisle
Try this: Shake things up a bit and kick off your wedding with the receiving line instead, recommends Lee. Play the musical selection of your choice, stand together, and welcome each of your guests as they enter the ceremony to take their seats. Once everyone is settled, "you can have the officiant walk up to you and your fiance. Or [the two of you] can walk each other up to the altar to meet the officiant," says Lee. For something even more casual, ditch the traditional setup all together. "Have your guests stand in a circle, then you and your fiance enter the 'heart' of the circle," suggests Lee.

You want: To include your children in the ceremony
Try this: There are a number of ways that you can work your children into your wedding. Perhaps the simplest option would be to “write children’s names in place of where parents' names would traditionally go" on the invitation, Lee says. Word the invite in a way that suggests they’re giving away their parent. If you’d rather have them involved on the big day, ask your son or daughter to be your honor attendant. Or have them partake in the actual ceremony by doing a reading -- or even officiating! In many states, it’s quite easy to become a temporary wedding officiate. More and more couples are taking advantage of it as an opportunity to have a loved one marry them as opposed to a traditional officiant.

You want: To include your parents but nix being escorted down the aisle
Try this: If you’d still like to have the support and presence of a parent at your wedding without following the more traditional father-daughter walk down the aisle, there are sensible alternatives. Depending on what other roles you've designated for your ceremony, "you might use [your parents] as part of your wedding party or have them read something during the ceremony," says Lee. Your father could also walk your mother or another close family member down the aisle.

You want: To do something completely unexpected
Try this: Throw a surprise wedding! This is a great alternative if you’re looking for a truly intimate celebration. Here's how it works: Select a date and venue, then send out invitations requesting guests to attend what appears to be a party for some other occasion -- a holiday, birthday, or even a housewarming. (In actuality, they'll really be coming to your wedding!) This gives the couple the opportunity to note any dress code restrictions in advance and to be sure that everyone they’d like to attend is available. This is also the best way for the bride to avoid having to field questions about whether she’s registered for gifts since many couples prefer not to receive them for a second wedding.

-- Charli Penn

See More: Remarriage , Ceremony Ideas