Second time around: Preparing for your big day ... again

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When Rebecca Buford and Jeremi Lewis married in 2003 they did without the bells and whistles of a traditional wedding ceremony. Instead of saying “I do” in a church, the Lawrence couple recited their vows amid the fun and festivities of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
 
Buford, who had been married before, says she heard a blurb on the radio about a wedding package for the festival. “The radio station said, ‘If you want to get married at the Renaissance Festival, we have a deal for you.’” For $25, Buford and Lewis received tickets for them and two of their closest friends to get into the festival and participate in a ceremony with other couples. 
 
Buford, who had her first wedding in a Catholic church, says she loved the traditional ceremony, wedding gown and reception with all her friends and family. But, like many second-time brides, Buford describes the focus of her second wedding as much different than that of her first. All the pageantry of a big wedding didn’t seem to matter the second time around.
 
A revamped focus
 
When brides enter a second marriage they come with a new prospective, having gone through a wedding before. Kansas City wedding planner Lynn Henderson says the focus for second weddings often shifts from all the details about the decor, menu and reception entertainment, to the groom and actual ceremony.
 
“They are not so wrapped up in the look,” Henderson says. “They want it to be nice, of course, but they really focus on being there with family and friends.”
 
Henderson, the owner and lead planner at Above and Beyond Weddings, says brides planning their second weddings tend to take a different approach. “The second-time bride is a little older and more mature.”
 
Overland Park resident Aimee Bernstein says she had a more mature outlook on her second wedding. She married Steve Bernstein on Dec. 23, 2010, during a small ceremony at Californos in Westport. 
 
“All of the little details weren’t as important because it was more important to just be getting married,” Aimee says. “I was more focused on the actual ceremony and making sure that our kids were comfortable and organized.”
 
Aimee married her first husband in her 20s. Like many young adults, she says marriage just seemed like the next step, but the decision to marry her second husband was more than just the next step.
 
Aimee entered the marriage with two children, Miles, 6, and Max, 9. Her husband, Steve, also entered the marriage with two children, Isabel, 6, and Noah, 11. The marriage involved more than uniting a husband and wife; it was about uniting their families.
 
“They were involved with everything,” Aimee says. “My boys walked me down (the aisle) and his kids walked him down.”
 
The Bernsteins had a traditional Jewish wedding. Aimee says her favorite part was at the end of the ceremony when the children joined her and Steve under the huppah, a Jewish wedding canopy. “Having the kids close to us was probably the most important and memorable thing we did,” Aimee says.
 
Buford also entered her second marriage with a fresh perspective. “It’s more about finding the right person,” she says. “When I look back at the second wedding, the lack of fanfare was nice.”
 
Buford says she and Lewis always have been fans of the Renaissance Festival, so the period-themed wedding ceremony fit them perfectly. “The second time it was how will this be meaningful to us,” she says. “It was a new beginning for us.”
 
Elements of traditional Renaissance weddings filled Buford and Lewis’ communal wedding ceremony. They joined other couples clad in Renaissance attire to recite their vows. Some couples were getting married, while others came to renew their vows. Before the ceremony the couples paraded around, while festival-goers joined in the celebration and cheered.
 
“My favorite part of the ceremony was the parade,” Buford says. “It really felt much like when you leave the church and are celebrating.”
 
Celebrating with the Renaissance Festival community and their closest friends gave Buford and Lewis the energy of a large wedding with the intimacy of a small ceremony. “I think that’s why people like to have a big ceremony. It’s a statement to the community,” Buford says. “We kind of had the best of both worlds.”
 
An intimate occasion
 
Smaller, more intimate guest lists are a trend for second weddings. According to Premierbride.com, “Smaller, intimate weddings are definitely the norm for second-time couples walking down the aisle. The receptions are different too, simple dinner parties or cocktail receptions are preferred over full-blown affairs.”
 
Henderson says she’s had brides who choose to have a big wedding the second time around but most opt for a smaller one.
 
Deciding where to cut off the guest list can be a challenge for any bride. Henderson says she works with her brides to ensure the guest list reflects the people who are most important to the couple. She tells brides and grooms to the think about the people who have been a part of their lives since they have been a couple. The need to invite the long list of high-school friends and sorority sisters might not be as necessary for a second wedding. 
 
Aimee says she and Steve limited their guest list to family and their closest friends. “It was just kind of like a big family dinner and it was very laid-back.”
 
Buford says a few close friends joined them for their ceremony at the Renaissance Festival. “The people that we cared about and really supported us were there.”
 
A unique, special day
 
While many second weddings share common themes like smaller guest lists and low-key receptions, each wedding is as unique as the bride who plans it, Henderson says. “I always ask my bride the three most important things for her on her wedding day.”
 
Henderson works with her brides to make their big day special. She says a wedding is a big occasion, whether it’s the first or second time around.
 
And brides can throw out any rules they may have heard about second weddings. Want to wear a white princess dress? Go for it. Want to register for gifts? Start making your list. Want to have a destination beach wedding? Book your flights.
 
According to Intimateweddings.com, the old rules for second weddings no longer apply. “Wedding rules for encore brides have changed. Second weddings tend to be smaller than first weddings — and oftentimes, they’re more personalized. Couples marrying for the second time are old enough to know exactly what they want. Many of them have done the big wedding thing, and prefer to celebrate with only close friends and family.”
 
Aimee says the second time around she didn’t feel the need to wear a wedding gown. Instead, she chose an elegant, white formal dress to wear for the ceremony. “I didn’t want to wear a wedding dress again. I’d already done that.”
 
For Buford’s second wedding, she wore a tailor-fit Renaissance costume. She says the focus was on marrying the person she wanted to share her life with. More than eight years later, Buford says she and Lewis can’t wait to take their 7-month-old son Jonah Buford-Lewis to the Renaissance Festival to show him where mommy and daddy got married.
 
“We don’t always go every year, but when we do, we celebrate,” she says.
 
Aimee’s best advice for encore brides is to make sure the groom-to-be is “the one.”
 
“The most important part is that you are marrying the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with,” she says. “It’s OK if you decide not to get married, too.”
 

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