Roughly 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. Out of the 50 percent who don’t make it, 98 percent of them get over it and eventually remarry.
My only sister finds herself transitioning into the 98 percent club. She divorced years ago and has been reluctant to make another lifetime commitment. Her job and her dog consumed most of her time, but now her long time boyfriend is about to pop the question and she plans to say yes. She called to tell me the joyful news and also expressed her confusion about what to do next. When you are older, how do you marry? What do you do? Make a dash to the justice of the peace? What are the rules for the second or even third marriage ceremony?
In my best, older sister of-course-I know-what-I-am-talking-about voice, I explained to her that there are no rules. It is absolutely whatever you and your beloved want it to be. It can be as formal or informal as your little heart desires. The stigma once attached to divorce and multiple marriages went away with hoop skirts. Second or third weddings have become commonplace in the search for real and lasting love. The fourth, however, gets into a gray area, and I mean more than just hair color.
Furthermore, being older does not excuse either party from all of the corny little romantic gestures usually associated with a first marriage. Guys should put forth every bit as much effort in the proposal as they did first time around. Actually, they probably should try a little harder, and maybe this will be the last time they go through this. Be creative and mushy and remember that a bended knee is highly desirable at any age. By all means, this is no time to forget your arthritis medication. Creaking joints and leg cramps may be inevitable, but take every possible measure to not let this become part of the proposal memory. Additionally, I have a guy friend who asked if an engagement ring is necessary for a second wedding. Are you kidding me? Usually, you are in a much better position to actually afford a ring when you are older, so forget getting off the hook on this one. The policy here is that the longer you have been together, the larger the stone needs to be. This makes her feel that it was worth the wait and you value her patience with the extended courtship period.
After the engagement has been established, you have several options:
1. Skip the formalities and elope, followed by an awesome honeymoon.
2. Have a very cool family-only ceremony, preferably on the waterfront with a lovely view of skimmers in the distance. This choice should be followed by a sit down dinner with an evening dotted with anecdotal toasts from all of your relatives who have had too much to drink.
3. Splurge on a big wedding and invite all of your friends who wondered if you would ever marry again.
What to wear? Dress selection has always been about personal preference. Long or short? White or candlelight? Some brides today even opt for color in their wedding ensemble. The point is that a second wedding does not dictate the type of dress required. You do not have to put on a suit just because you have done this before. Adorn yourself in whatever makes you feel beautiful and happy. Why do you think little girls wear princess costumes? They put them on whenever they feel the urge and then behave accordingly, as if they were reigning over fawning subjects in their fairytale kingdoms. Getting older does not eliminate tiara moments, though we probably would get a few strange looks if we don the tulle skirts and glitter scepters for anything other than Mardi Gras.
Think of this new wedding as a chance to get it all right this time. Pick out the things you like best and mesh them all into this wonderful new opportunity. The first time around we do so much to please and accommodate our families that the wedding often becomes stressful and compromising. Divorce is rarely desirable, but it does teach you about what does and does not work. Just think about how many times you have said, “If I could do it over…” Well, now you can.