Should a Second Marriage Be Celebrated (and Paid for) Like the First?
We recently had occasion to be in a wedding — a second wedding for the bride and groom. While I'm all about celebrating the union between two individuals, I couldn't help but question whether we really had to celebrate it with the same gusto that we did just a few years prior for this individual's first wedding. I'm not knocking re-marriages. After all, half of American marriages end up in divorce, so a second marriage is quite typical. In some cases, I've seen some couples that treat a second marriage as more of a formality, rather than a unique life experience that requires all the bells and whistles, while others treat it as if it's the first time — and then some.
Here were some questions I had for my wife, who was treating the second wedding as if it were the same as a first wedding (from our budgetary perspective):
Engagement Party/Wedding Shower
For first-time newlyweds, starting a life together often means making do on meager salaries while trying to enjoy some travel time together and celebrate being young and married. It's nice to have a party or shower where you receive gifts for the house and everyday living, and this is reciprocated for all your friends and family that end up getting married themselves. But by a second go-around, they were already given a bunch of gifts. Is a new round of gift-giving appropriate or over the top? Perhaps a nice toned-down celebration without large gift expectations and registries? Maybe it's just me, but I felt like I just did that, and now we had to do it again. (See also: 8 Tips for Planning a Last-Minute Wedding)
We're all familiar with the rite of passage just before the wedding day where the bride and groom to-be "get it all out of their system." I get that. But if you already got it out of your system a few years ago, is an extravagant and expensive bachelorette party really necessary? Perhaps a nice local bar, drinks with the girls, and a fun night out makes sense — heck, that's good for any occasion. But going into the city, limos, new dresses, hair, and all the accouterments really add up — twice. Not to sound one-sided, this same concept applies to the bachelor party as well. I just happened to be viewing this from someone on my wife's side. But if you're both close the the new bride and groom, it could very well be a double-whammy from that standpoint as well. If you saw The Hangover, you know how expensive a Bachelor party can be!
Where we live, a typical wedding gift is usually at least $100 per head and more for close friends and family. Is it unreasonable to give less for a second wedding if we already gave a generous gift the first time? I lost that one, not that I fought too hard. I never want to look cheap, especially with family and friends, since something like a cheap wedding gift can cause bad blood and bickering for a lifetime. But if you were hosting a second wedding, would you expect a gift of the same financial value as your first wedding? I'm genuinely curious.
Money Spent to Host the Wedding
Since this one didn't impact our personal budget specifically, I didn't complain to my wife about what someone else spent. But in thinking about what's reasonable and what other people would do, I was curious what people think about money spent on a second wedding. With the high cost of traditional weddings, does it make financial sense to do another traditional wedding each time? Many of the participants have already celebrated your wedding previously, and after accounting for divorce costs, transitioning into a new financial situation and other uncertainties, perhaps spending over $20,000 again isn't the best move? After all, there are several alternative wedding ideas to save money while celebrating. And it can become costly for attendees as well. Not to be facetious, but where do you draw the line between when subsequent weddings are treated differently? I would assume after the first, but maybe that's just me.
Before you judge me too harshly as a "second marriage hater," let me say that I'm all for people being happy and celebrating their unions. I think many second marriages are much more successful and happy than first marriages. People should do what's right for them and do what makes them happy. It's just that for those on the periphery, we've been through your celebration once before — we've paid our dues! And things don't cost what they used to. It's a tough time for a lot of people financially right now, and when looking to treat a repeat event as a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, isn't it just a bit over the top?
What are your thoughts?