Planning a wedding is a little different this time around

By From page A2 | June 12, 2012

So let the wedding festivities begin!

I recently wrote that after eight years of being a single mom, much of that spent hoping I might find the right man to share my complicated life with, I have in fact become engaged to my dear Tom.

There are a lot of things to prepare for, of course. Joining a life with another, perhaps especially at our ages and certainly with all our children (eight), is no small undertaking. The most important things, the preparations for our marriage itself, are taking place more or less behind the scenes.

Ironically, to me, what quickly takes center stage, though really it lasts only a moment, is the wedding day itself.

At first I was reticent about having a reception surrounding our nuptials. Instead, I thought we would just have our pastor and families present for a private ceremony, then host a party for a greater number of people a few weeks later. Thrilled to be marrying Tom, I still believed that any real wedding-day fanfare would feel too “all about me.” And hadn’t I done all that once already?

But my very thoughtful groom and good friends convinced me that it’s entirely right we should have a celebration, one that starts with friends dear to us also witnessing our wedding ceremony. First, because Tom and I want to honor the loved ones who have seen us through difficult years, and especially because we want to honor what God has redemptively done by bringing us together now.

Oh, and by the way, who doesn’t love a good party?

So all right, then — we’ve dived in. An intimate and old-fashioned morning wedding followed by a brunch feels just right for our fall nuptials. But it turns out that coming to that conclusion wasn’t the hard part after all.

What I wasn’t quite prepared for was how things have changed since I was married the first time 25 years ago. Now people ask me who my “wedding planner” is. Answer: “Wedding planner? You’re looking at her!”

That’s only the beginning. It seems that today most engaged couples have websites to chronicle their planning progress — sometimes in excruciating detail — toward their big day. There are elaborate party favors to be created, detailed gift registries to be considered, and on it goes.

All of that may be just fine for young couples, but Tom and I agree: None of that is right for us. I’ve discovered one interesting tidbit, though. Apparently I am what’s called an “encore bride.” Now that’s great marketing. But I digress.

So anyway, now what? Simply by making a few inquiries via the web, I find I’m already being inundated by wedding vendors and planners.


Well, I do know this: As much of a stickler for tradition as I am — and, yes, even in this anything-goes age there are apparently “rules” for encore brides (like: No veil. Duh!) — I actually feel a lot freer to plan this celebration than I did my first wedding. I am far less worried about expectations and impressions — and personalized matchbooks, monogrammed napkins, party favors or anything else — than I was 25 years ago. My husband-to-be and I simply look forward to creating a warm and relaxed atmosphere for a very happy day, one on which our guests feel special and well taken care of.

Of course, there is one complication — well, three, actually — that I did not have the first time around, either: Teen and ‘tween daughters who have very definite ideas about how any wedding should proceed. Cue here all those reality-TV wedding shows. We have already locked horns over my wedding dress. My girls are adamant that it “must” be some variation of white, and I like one that’s not. We haven’t even talked about their dresses yet.

So yes, let the festivities begin. Only, I’m now wondering if my wedding could end up being a good bit more complex than I had originally thought after all.

Betsy Hart’s latest book is “From The Hart: A Collection of Favorite Columns on Love, Loss, Marriage (and Other Extreme Sports). Reach her through [email protected]

Betsy Hart


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