I’m getting married this coming Sunday. No, hold your applause, I’m not saying this to draw attention to myself. You know how I hate that. I’m just saying it so that you know where I’m coming from. See, this is my second wedding, and the planning for it has been very different, compared to the first one. Here are six of the best things about that.
6. I know what I want. — I realized very early on that I knew exactly what I wanted out of my second wedding: small, short, and simple. I didn’t want a ton of people there; I didn’t want a long ceremony; I didn’t want anything complicated. And the great thing is: I lucked into marrying someone who feels the same way.
Avoid this! Wedding competition shows. While it can be fun to dream about a huge, extravagant wedding, if you don’t have $100,000 to spend, you’re not going to get three dresses, two venues, a champagne fountain, a twelve-piece band, and three wedding planners. You need to start off by being realistic about what you want, what you can afford, and what you absolutely do need versus what you and your intended think is “nice to have”. A second wedding is a good time to cut back on the things you don’t want that your intended is okay with skipping. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save.
5. I know what I don’t care about. — While that sounds a bit mean, I don’t mean it that way. Truthfully, I don’t care what colors we choose, what the location is, or what we eat (as long as it tastes good and there’s something for my kid). It’s not important to me if the wedding is rustic, modern, vintage, or contemporary; it doesn’t matter what time of day it is (except in that my kid has school the next day), or if it’s inside or outside. The invitations really don’t matter to me; the favors really don’t matter to me; the flowers really don’t matter to me. I know what matters to me, and I get to have my say, and the rest of it can be whatever she wants.
Avoid this! Bringing up your first wedding for comparative purposes. Even if you’re saying what you’re doing now is better, even if your ex-spouse is abhorred by both you and your new partner, even if the last wedding was a disaster, don’t talk about it. If you must, be careful, and don’t disparage it. It happened, but it’s part of your past. Your new partner is your future, and that’s the person — and wedding — you should be focusing on.
4. The guest list is (hopefully) smaller. — The last time I got married, there were people on the guest list that I either hadn’t met or hadn’t even heard of, but that I was told “you must invite these individuals”. This time around, I don’t have to do that. And, truthfully, a lot of my family has already seen me get married; they might not want to spend the money to do it again, especially if they have to fly and get a hotel. I totally respect that decision, and I don’t think they like me less just because they aren’t coming.
Avoid this! A huge guest list. Unless the wedding is intentionally going to be an enormous affair, don’t feel the need to add every single person on your Facebook friends list to your wedding invitation list. It’s expensive — invitations, food, favors, and venue size changes all add up — and while they’d appreciate being invited, they understand that it may not always be possible. This can be really hard if some of your friends missed your last wedding, or if you feel you have to invite them because they invited you to theirs, but be judicious and careful, and discuss it with your intended.
3. It’s still new. — Sure, I’ve done this before, but that doesn’t mean it’s old hat. It’s been thirteen years (almost) since my last wedding, and all sorts of things have changed. New music, new technology, new clothing, new locations, new people in my life… and, at the end of the aisle, my new wife-to-be. Hopefully when you get married for a second time you’re doing it to someone better suited to you, and someone you’ve made better choices about marrying, and that takes a load off your mind. At least, that’s how it works for me.
Avoid this! Checking out. It can be tempting to say “I’ve done this before, do what you want,” but that’s not going to make your intended very happy. The whole point is that you should be planning this together — even if you just say “that sounds good” in a bunch of different ways. Be involved, be present, and correct the mistakes you made the last time if you checked out or didn’t keep yourself in the moment. There’s always going to be something new that you can do.
2. I get another honeymoon. — The first time I got married, the honeymoon was fun, but it’s different this time because I’m older, I’m more established in my career, and I really need a vacation. I was 25 the first time; I’m 38 now, and have a child in fifth grade. I’m going to disconnect my work e-mail from my phone, ignore as much of the internet as I can*, and just have fun on a long vacation with someone I love madly.
Avoid this! Going to the same place. Look, I’m all for taking multiple vacations to the same location if you’re totally into it — I could go back to New Mexico every year and be thrilled to do so — but don’t go on your second honeymoon to the place you went on your first one. Maybe you think you’ll be able to handle it, but in your head you’ll be constantly thinking about what you did with your ex while you were there, and you don’t want that. You want to focus on your new spouse, and only on your new spouse (and the fun stuff you’re going to do on the honeymoon). Sure, if you honeymooned in Vegas the first time, there’s nothing wrong with taking a Vegas vacation at some point in the future, but not on your honeymoon.
1. It’s her** day. — I’ve gotten married before, but this is my bride’s first (and only), so, while it’s important to me to marry her, it’s more important for me to give her the wedding day she’s always dreamed of. I want her to have everything she wants; I don’t want her to have any regrets about not doing something a certain way, or not having something look a certain way. I have a few things that I asked for — and got — but the rest is all for her, and it makes me happy to see her happy. I know this will be the wedding she wants, and I’ll be thrilled beyond belief at the end result: that we go home married. Ultimately, that’s all I want.
Avoid this! Letting your religion dictate your wedding. Religion is important to a lot of people, and I respect that. I also respect that some religions have a lot of traditions and rules around marriages and weddings. But your wedding isn’t about your religion — it’s about you and your intended, and spending the day affirming your love for each other in front of your family and friends (and, if you’re religious, your deity of choice). Don’t let the religious needs outweigh your personal needs — and the same goes for your family and your friends: this is your wedding, not their wedding. Respect traditions, listen to opinions, but ultimately do what is best for you. Because, unlike me, you might not get a second chance to do it right.
I really wanted to use this space to share with you the songs we’re going to use as the processional and recessional, because I picked them out and I’m really proud that I managed to pick a couple so good that she was happy to include them. But I don’t want to spoil that surprise for my family and friends who read this column, so instead here’s a link to a Garfunkel & Oates song, “Rainbow Connections”, that was written for a gay marriage episode of their TV show. With some judicious editing, it would be a great first dance song — mostly to cut out the bit of the bridge in the middle where they pontificate about marriage equality, which is important, of course, but maybe not something you want to include in your first dance. Or, I mean, give it to your band and let them handle that part. Either way.
All the things that had to go right,
All the things that had to go wrong
That lead us to the place where we were going all along.
Right now they fall away,
Right now it’s just us two,
Right now we make a promise:
If you do, then I do too.
Got an idea for a future “Six of the Best” column? Tweet it to me @listener42.
Josh’s book, The Clockwork Russian and Other Stories, has been called “intelligent, compelling, and always entertaining” by award-winning author Sean McMullen, and “thought-provoking” by Big Anklevich, editor of the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. You should read it and find out why.