When Lorrie Ines tied the knot for the first time, she was a youthful twenty-one years old. Ronald Reagan was president, Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" topped the charts and IBM introduced the very first personal computer. That was in 1987 and more than just Ines' hairstyle has changed since then.
Ines, a now divorced 41-year old registered nurse in suburban San Francisco, will walk down the aisle for the second time in July to marry her fiancé Chris Hinton, who has never been married. The pair met online two years ago but will soon join a growing number of men and women who have found that society is becoming more accepting of these so-called "encore weddings" - and that the wedding industry is quickly following suit.
Deputy Editor of www.TheKnot.com , Kathleen Murray, says she's noticed more and more second-time brides registering on The Knot. "Many of them really feel like it's their first wedding and they want it to be as special as their first one. There still may be some raised eyebrows but most of the stigmas of getting married a second time are gone."
Encore weddings have become so popular that Beaches, the all-inclusive Caribbean resort, has designed special packages just for second-timers with kids. They call them "FamilyMoons TM", a combination wedding and honeymoon for the whole family. Joann Delgin, the Chief Romance Officer for Beaches (yes, it's on her business card), says "FamilyMoon TM" packages account for about ten percent of their wedding business and that number is growing. With 12,000 weddings at their resorts each year, that's a lot of "FamilyMoons TM".
"The events are usually small with about a dozen close family and friends gathered for the ceremony," Delgin says. "We offer a 'sand ceremony' where the bride and groom and children from both sides each scoops up their own vile of sand, then one by one they pour it into a larger glass container." Couples can take the container home and keep it as a symbol of the two families coming together as one.
Other couples exchange rings with each other and give their kids rings of their own as a way of including them in the ceremony. "Also popular, is giving a child a necklace or medallion that has the birthstones of each member embedded in it as a symbol of becoming one family," says Delgin.
Event planner Preston Bailey says intimate destination weddings are very popular for encore brides and grooms. Bailey, who planned the extravagant Palm Beach wedding of Donald Trump and wife Melania Knauss, says he's planned second weddings at a private villa in Turks and Caicos, on the terrace of a luxury hotel overlooking the ocean in Jamaica and steps from the ocean on an Antigua beach. "Most couples are very relaxed. They've been through it before and they know what they want." "Young sons are often ring bearers or daughters are flower girls. One thing is for certain", says Bailey, "family is always a big part."
Bride-to-be Lorrie Ines has two children from her previous marriage, both of whom will be an important part of her wedding. Ashley, her eighteen-year old daughter, is her maid of honor and her son Brian, 15, will escort his mom down the aisle. Ines admits her eyes welled up with tears when she saw Brian try on his tuxedo. "He looked so grown up," she said.
In line with many second weddings, Ines' July nuptials will be a much simpler affair than her first. There's a fifty person guest list instead of one hundred and fifty. She's having two bridesmaids instead of six and she's much more focused on the meaning of the ceremony. "The ceremony was the last thing on my mind last time. I was so much more concerned with my dress." Today, she and Chris have even written their own vows to reflect what marriage means to them. "Planning this wedding was much different. The first one was overwhelming. I was so concerned with the small stuff. Now, I'm much more laid back."
Theresa DiMasi, editor-in-chief of www.Brides.com says encore couples of today have many more options than the brides of the past. Gone are the days when it was taboo for a second-time bride to wear white. Today, anything goes. "Most dress a bit more modestly, opting for a shorter dress or white pant suit but some brides still want to wear a real gown." "Knee-length dresses are popular now. And colors can range from white, ivory, or champagne to gold or even pink. These days, it's up to the bride."
Kathleen Murray of "The Knot" says more fashion designers are responding to older brides citing a recent trunk show she attended that included several top designers with dresses intended for an older bride. "Oscar de la Renta, for example, and others are making less traditional wedding attire for older and second-time brides so they can look and feel great. Some have ¾ length sleeves to hide less flattering arms or have a more mature off-the shoulder look."
With all the "Dos" of planning a second wedding, there are still a handful of "Don'ts" that couples must navigate their way through in order to stay within the etiquette boundaries.
The blusher veil is most commonly cited by experts as a fashion faux pas for the encore bride. These traditional veils are short and cover the brides face when she walks down the aisle. Murray of "The Knot" says, "blusher veils are very traditional and second-times brides should steer clear." Long trains on an encore bride's dress are also a no-no, experts say, although shorter ones that extend just beyond the end of the dress are fair game.
Experts say the gift registry can be one of the trickiest minefields that encore couples must navigate. Rebecca Black, a California etiquette consultant, says registering is fine to do twice, but be careful what you register for. Do not ask for money, she says. Black says many guests may have already spent a small fortune on attending your wedding and asking for money as a wedding gift is downright "tacky."
Couples who have all the pots and pans they need might be tempted to list only expensive high-end items the second time around, like that $800 espresso machine they've always wanted. But, Black says they should think again. "It's a good philosophy for all couples to have a variety on their registry, so guests can spend what they want."
And, if you're a wedding guest who has spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on travel, gifts, attire, etc for a friend's first wedding only to have to do the same thing several years later; do you really have to get another gift? Experts disagree on this one. Rebecca Black says, "No, you're not obligated to. A congratulatory note would suffice." But, Kathleen Murray of "The Knot" says guests have to "grin and bear it." "You can spend less on a second-time gift, if you want, but you should act like this is the one and only wedding because for one of them, it might be."
One very popular route many encore couples are taking is also a big crowd pleaser. Increasingly, couples request that their guests make a small donation in their name to a charity. With "The I Do Foundation", guests can donate a lump sum to a charity or donate through purchases made in the couples' names at several partner stores, like Target or Linens-N-Things, which then donate a portion of the cost to a charity. "Already have a fondue pot?" says the foundation's web site, "Give your guests the option to donate to your favorite charity."
The American Cancer Society also offers personalized scrolls that couples can order in memory of a loved one who died of cancer. The scrolls are then left at their guests' place settings at the reception in lieu of favors.
Another popular encore wedding registry option for encore couples is to ask guests to chip in for their honeymoon costs. Lorrie Ines and Chris Hinton did just that, registering with www.honeyfund.com, one of the few sites that doesn't charge a fee, say Ines. After their July wedding, the newlyweds will head to Hawaii for a weeklong honeymoon where some of their guests may have already picked up the tab for things like massages, a dinner cruise, an ATV excursion and even happy hour cocktails, all things they registered for through the site. "You don't want to ask for money," says Kathleen Murray of "The Knot", "so it's about being creative in getting what you want."
Theresa DiMasi says once-untraditional wedding gifts are becoming a very popular trend for older and second-time married couples who don't need more flatware. "You can register for like golf clubs or photography equipment. Things that are lifestyle items that are a reflection of a couple's lives together." Wine and camping equipment are also popular items.
Untraditional weddings and untraditional wedding gifts, all becoming traditional as more and more brides like Lorrie Ines head down the aisle. "I don't know who makes up all the rules and who decides that some rules no longer apply", says Ines, "but its all working out fine with me."