Wedding etiquette for romantic third timers

Posted on August 17, 2015 by Eleanor McKenzie
Wedding day kiss

Time to confess that I have managed two marriages and divorces well before the age of 50. Fortunately I only have one offspring from the second marriage, and I only say this because if I had children from both marriages, and I was in the position of contemplating reprising marriage vows for the third time, I might find myself faced with a few social and familial challenges.

Many couples find themselves organising a third and maybe fourth wedding, and wonder what the etiquette is for such occasions.  Should it be a small event, and what types of outfits are appropriate for bride and groom? And, what’s the best way to tell your children that you’re getting married again?

Telling the children

Let’s deal with them first, because this is where you might meet a challenge, or it may all go swimmingly well. You’ll probably have a good idea of how each child—and I use that term in the sense that they are our children even when they are adults—will respond. Even if they are adults, they still need to be treated with sensitivity and consideration. It can be a shock to hear that your parent is joining a ‘new unit’, and it may raise all kinds of concerns, plus unconscious fears. I think that most of us can project ourselves into that situation and imagine how we’d feel if we were the children.

One way you may avoid strife is by including all the offspring from the start. Take them into your confidence before you announce your engagement to the world. It may be politic to discuss it with them before a proposal even takes place. No matter how romantic and spontaneous you enjoy being, don’t let your children discover that you’re getting married again at the same time as your friends.

It is also considered good etiquette to let ex-spouses know about a remarriage, particularly if your children are still legally classified as ‘children’. It would certainly lead to better relations all round if ex-spouses are introduced to the new spouse, if the new one will have a role to play in a child’s upbringing .

Engagement announcement

You may still choose to announce an engagement and a forthcoming wedding in the traditional channels. However, it is no longer quite so necessary to include the bride and groom’s parents in the announcement. You may consider adding your children to it though: for example, “Brian and Mary, parents of Jack, Emma, Mark and Jane are delighted to announce their engagement.” Alternatively, throw a party for your friends and family and announce it there. Email and social media are other less formal and more modern ways of making this type of announcement that are quite acceptable.


Presents on a table

Wedding gifts

The traditional purpose of wedding gifts is to help young couples set up home. By the time you’ve arrive at marriage number three, you probably have ample possessions. In which case, registering a wedding gift list is not good wedding etiquette. If friends want to buy you a gift, perhaps suggest that they club together to give you a case of wine, or membership of a gym, or similar.

Is white alright?

If you want to wear white, then go ahead and wear it. If you want to wear a long white gown, you can do that too. However, don’t be tempted to add a veil; that really is only for first-time brides. Still, there are some fabulous flower crowns or tiaras that look wonderful, and a fascinator is appropriate if you’re wearing a skirt suit or knee-length dress. Alternatively, you may both decide to get married in biker leathers, or have a Great Gatsby-themed wedding. It’s your wedding; you decide!

Small and discreet?

Some couples are concerned that having a large wedding when it’s your third is rather unseemly. Modern wedding etiquette suggests that you should have the size of wedding that you want, and that you can afford.

Wording the wedding invite

If you wish to acknowledge parents on the invite, you are free to do so. As with the engagement announcement, you may also wish to include all the children’s names on the invite to emphasise the idea of a new family being created. Or, you can keep it super simple and just have the bride and groom’s names.

If you’re looking for inspiration there are some fabulous online sources available now, such as and Guides for Brides. Additionally, you might like to read How To Get Married Again: A Guide to Second Weddings by Jill Curtis. Personally, I believe that as long as your family and friends are happy about the occasion, you should take this opportunity to have the nuptials you always wanted; turn a challenge into a dream wedding.


by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.