Dear Come Correct:
I'm getting married about six months from now, to an amazing woman. We agree on many of the important things—whether we want children and when, where we'd like to live, how to save for a home of our own, etc—but there's been some tension lately. Maybe I'm not getting it because I'm a brother and we're not all that deep into the wedding prep. (My best friend told me "man, your job is to not lose the ring and show up on time and properly dressed. Everything else is out of your hands. Trust.") But my mother and her mother are and so far, so good, except for one thing: although this is my first wedding, it will be my bride's third. Her first (in college) was an elopement. The second (several years later) was at city hall. Now she wants a big wedding so she can wear the long white dress and veil she never did for the first two. Her mother's not so crazy about the idea. My mother is mortified—she says that's for first weddings and if you missed out, oh well. My bride is determined to have the dream wedding—including the dress—she didn't get the first two times.
What do you think?
A lot about weddings has relaxed in recent years, including how the bride dresses. But your mother and mother-in-law are mostly right about wearing the whole nine yards for a third wedding. Although the white dress no longer symbolizes virginity the way it used to—now it stands for joy and new beginnings—the long veil is still considered appropriate for first-time blushing brides. (There's even a short, face-covering veil that's called a "blusher.") Yes, you've seen a lot of Hollywood weddings where the much-married bride has a cathedral train and a long veil to match as she floats down the aisle toward her umpteenth husband. But they do a lot of things in Hollywood they don't do in real life. (And politics: remember the photos of Mrs. Rudy Giuliani in a tiara and a big white dress for her third wedding?)
That being said, there are still options if your fiancee wants a big dress. Although she can pass up the Princess of Wales look, she can still look dazzling and elegant in a long dress, even a white one, as long as it doesn't look like a princess-y wedding gown. It could be white and very simple with a dramatic piece of jewelry…) A pastel gown looks romantic, a deep jewel tone can be striking. Her headpiece could be as simple as flowers tucked into her hair, or couple of jeweled hairclips. She might even wear a hat, depending on the gown and the time of day.
Flowers? Of course. But again, instead of a big, poufy bunch, something more scaled-down and sophisticated is a better idea.
A third-time bride is definitely entitled to her Big Day, and any wedding is filled with hope that the couple will live happily ever after. But if she's been married once, twice, three times before, the less the third wedding looks like a first one the better.
When the Groom Is The One With Multiple Marriages:
The guidelines for a first-time marriage apply: the groom is dressed according to custom and time of day and type of wedding (example: formal church wedding, morning coat; informal day wedding in a garden or restaurant: dark suit…) and the bride wears a white gown and veil if she chooses.
Good luck and be gorgeous!
Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).
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is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).