The arrival of February usually ushers in a month of all things red and heart-shaped. This past February also was the month that I got married. . . again. Being a bride again was a surreal experience, and planning a wedding during a pandemic added to that sense of surrealness. As our wedding day approached, I began thinking about what the experience was like the second time around.
Overcoming embarrassment. The wedding industry definitely caters to younger couples, not empty nesters. So, during our initial stages of wedding planning, I felt somewhat embarrassed by it. I had not planned on buying a gown from a bridal shop, but I could not find anything suitable elsewhere. So, I relented and found myself saying yes to a dress, while ringing a bell nonetheless, at a local bridal store. I was a blushing bride out of sheer embarrassment. I felt almost apologetic for daring to have a second wedding, since my first marriage ended in divorce. While I never felt completely comfortable in the role of the bride, my embarrassment subsided, as I was grateful and happy to be getting married to an amazing man. Just don’t ask me to ring a bell, again!
Choosing a wedding date. I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, so, the fact that we were getting married during February was somewhat ironic. Choosing a wedding date around our work schedules, our seven children’s work and school commitments, and the pandemic was a daunting task. We chose the day that we began dating three years ago, and even though I had not considered a winter wedding, we chose a date with a very special meaning. I still am not fond of Valentine’s Day, though.
Planning a wedding ceremony and reception. After we got engaged, my then fiancé and I looked at each other and said, Oh my gosh-now, we have to plan a wedding! If you thought planning a wedding the second time around would be easier, you are both right and wrong. Because of COVID-19 limitations and our personal preferences, we had to limit the number of guests to invite. Our immediate families alone comprised nearly half of the guests, so, it was hard to not be able to extend invitations to all of our extended family members and some of our friends, as we had at our respective first weddings. This time, though, we were able to incorporate more personal touches. We chose a beautiful space that could accommodate both our ceremony and reception and were able to plan the ceremony we wanted. I even was able to include some Pearl Jam in our ceremony! We kept things simple, yet elegant, and it represented us. I never dreamt that I would remarry, but our wedding was the wedding of my dreams.
Involving our children in the wedding planning. When I got married as a 25-year-old, my parents were instrumental in guiding me throughout the entire wedding planning process. This time around, we planned the wedding and reception together, and we had our children’s input along the way. The girls chose the color of their dresses, the boys and their Dad coordinated their suits, my daughters accompanied me when I chose a wedding dress, and his oldest daughter designed the centerpieces for each table at the reception. It was a family affair, which made it all the more special.
Focusing on our marriage more than the wedding and reception. Even though we focused on planning our wedding and reception, most of our time and energy was spent on continuing to nurture our relationship, combining households, and joining our two families together across two states and five cities. We do not take for granted the incredible gift we have been given in each other and with our two families, and we are committed to one another and our children. The wedding was only the beginning of our life together, and that is what matters most.
Changing names and labels and keeping others. Once we married, we became spouses, instead of fiancés, and I tagged his last name to mine, albeit without a hyphen and without removing my middle name. When it comes to being a step-parent, a bonus parent, or some other label, our children can decide how they prefer to refer to us. To me, we are simply a family, and I do not feel the need to label or explain our relationship to one another to other people.
As our honeymoon period continues, I feel an overwhelming sense of love, gratitude, and joy that I get to love my husband and to be loved by him for the rest of our lives. Our love story is not a fairy tale; it is better, because it is the real deal.
It is never too late to find love, create healthy relationships, and make your dreams come true. I am living proof of that, and I can help you do the same in your life.