“My thinking evolved into being more about the ‘connecting with love’ and less about the shindig.”
When figuring out what to know about planning a wedding, it can feel hard to make choices, because you’re working with incomplete information. You might have experienced other people’s weddings as a guest, but never as a person getting married. What is it like to be at the center of it? What will matter to you, moment to moment?
This knowledge gap is one reason we can get pulled into traditional wedding styles – you haven’t done this before, so it feels hard to redesign. You likely end up just doing what you’ve seen other people do that seems cool, mixed with a healthy dose of must-do items from others
There are, however, plenty of people who have gotten married twice. When they found themselves ready to say “I do” a second time, they knew better what they wanted – and felt empowered to go get it.
I asked a group of them to share with you what they learned and did differently that second time. The sheer similarity of their responses, from many different kinds of people, is brilliantly comforting. I hope their thoughts give you courage and reassurance about the path you’re pondering.
Here are their suggestions:
Suggestion #1: Have The Number of Guests You Can Actually Connect With
“In my second wedding, I prioritized connection. A family member did the vows, I was more “one with the guests” if that makes sense. I think my thinking evolved into being more about the ‘connecting with love’ and less about the shindig.”
On a day when you’re making vows to another person, it’s hard to simultaneously connect with dozens or hundreds of other people, some of whom – if we’re honest – you might not even know that well. (One Redditor put that part bluntly: “Don’t feel pressure to invite everyone. 3/4 of the people who you invite you won’t talk to after the wedding.”)
People who had the chance to do it again frequently opted out of larger guest lists, and prioritized really seeing and being present with the people who came.
“We had both been married before, and the first weddings were the traditional-style weddings. As wonderful as those can be, we deeply desired a more intimate experience…”
On this day that’s about tying your future to someone else, it’s okay to opt into closeness and connection. (If you need help narrowing down your guest list, try this.)
Suggestion #2: Spend With Intention
There’s nothing wrong with having a long guest list – as my own husband Pete said, “if the people and celebration are important for you, do the big party.” But this brings in the question you’d be wise to ask – is it important to me?
As we talk about in the post How Much Should An Elopement Cost? – there’s value in stepping back and deciding where you really want your money to go.
For Rebecca, if she had her first wedding to do over again, the choice was clear: “I’d include far less people and spend the $$ doing something spectacular with that small group to celebrate.”
Eloping can save money, but it isn’t really about “saving money.” It’s about casting off expectations and really choosing what you want to do with the money you spend.
As one Redditor put it, “Keep it small, don’t let people guilt you into inviting (or not inviting) someone. I would instead spend the money on a dress that I like, a good photographer, alcohol, and some lighthearted games…Let loose and have a fun, memorable day with your new spouse.”
Care More About What You Want Than Other People’s Thoughts
“My first wedding was a big deal. My second, I didn’t care what anyone thought and ran off and got married. Best wedding ever. I dropped any and all expectations of anyone else but us.”
This was far and away the most common sentiment – your wedding is for you, not other people. This is probably one of the biggest things to take away about what to know about planning a wedding.
“We wanted to spend our wedding day doing the things that make us happiest and feeling most alive, rather than creating an event that can seem more about what others are expecting.”
“Think about it this way, do you want to spend your first day as a married couple worried about what everyone else thinks, or having a fun and memorable celebration…?”
This applies to everything – location, activities, even down to the color of your dress. Elizabeth, who noted above that she made choices in her ‘round two’ that gave her the “best wedding ever,” added, “Oh, and the casino thought I was the maid of honor because my dress was red.”
My own wedding dress was champagne color, and a lady at the shop gave me grief, but I stone cold bought it (and loved it!!) anyways! When I renew my vows, I told my other half it’s going to be in a black gown, just because I want to.
All that to say… Carve out time to think about what really brings you joy. As, Rebecca said, “I think I made the best choices I could have at the time, but I do wish I could have had the headspace to care less about family expectations and what others thought.”
Turns Out, Guests Often Like Wild Ideas, Too
“I had a “white wedding” the first go around. I love tradition & ceremony. My advice would be, however, to do it as uniquely as you can. Guests (no matter how many) will love feeling who you are through the ceremony.”
“Skipping a bridal party is unlikely to offend people – it can be a big commitment and stressful for everyone, even in the best situations.”
If you go with the wedding plans that really, truly, light you up with excitement, and if you decide to have guests – chances are, those guests will love it too. Your ceremony, the activities you choose – these can be once-in-a-lifetime moments of fun and relaxation for any guests attending, too. They will remember it forever.
As another Redditor advised, “Keep the ceremony small, maybe just family and a couple friends. Do it remotely where you have a few days to relax and definitely enjoy the honeymoon!”
Wherever you are in your wedding journey, I hope this post brings you relief that your instincts are normal. You have full permission to follow them!
What to know about planning a wedding? You do you, and I would love to support you in making your adventure elopement a reality. ❤️️ You can book a call with me here to chat details – I love hearing love stories! Tell me yours!