Some see divorce as a devastating life event, but I always like to look on the bright side. In this case, it means there are plenty of people like me out there who are now finding themselves in their forties and in the lovely position of getting married for a second time — and with the opportunity to plan another wedding.
The first time I got married at age 29, I really had no idea what this entailed. We were pretty rock 'n' roll back then, and I remember pulling it all together in just over a month. Luckily — and with a lot of help from a few good friends (thank you!) — it all came together perfectly. I wore the most beautiful bespoke dress, all my close friends and family were there, and my son Arthur, then only 16 months old, accompanied me down the aisle.
On the other hand, we gave next to no thought to the menu, hadn’t tasted the champagne or wine, and opted to play down some potentially tricky family dynamics by not organizing a party after the reception. Of course, everyone had a brilliant time on the day, and with no official after-party booked, we ended up with a few friends in our wedding suite, causing havoc in the hallway with a garbage can and "the wedding CD" on repeat. Fortunately, it was pre-social media.
There are so many things that I loved about that wedding. But as I find myself planning a second wedding, there are lots of things I want do differently. First, I want to make the absolute most of every single minute. If I think back to my first wedding, I didn't realize how much I would enjoy the actual day itself. I would have liked the day to be longer, to have gone into an evening event. This time, after the ceremony and a relaxed summer lunch, I am really looking forward to the wedding party.
Having first married in a hotel in a big city, it felt really important to me this time to go back home and have the wedding in the tiny church in the village where I spent an idyllic, if slightly chaotic, childhood (and some fairly rebellious teenage years), and where my darling Dad is buried. The reception and party will be close by in my sister’s beautiful garden, and we are staying at my family's hotel. I remember them turning this stunning family home into a hotel when I was very young. It was managed by my uncle and aunt, and my godmother was chef. I have many happy memories of parties on the grounds: my first beers at the bar and falling asleep after a barn dance.
Having longer to plan, I have the opportunity to give more thought to some of the smaller details that can make a wedding day feel very unique: hand-written place cards, well-chosen thank you gifts — I don’t remember giving any before! My sister and I are discussing the flowers, as she has offered to grow and cut them for the event.
The first time I got married it didn’t cross my mind to get fit beforehand or do any beauty prep for the day and remember my tiny dress slipping on with ease. As I am now in my 40s, I am aware that the "effortless look" is going to take a little bit more work. When I consulted my lovely friend Olivia, a personal trainer, she promptly told me that as it was September and the wedding is in June, we should start right away! I was obviously in denial, as I couldn’t believe it would take so long to get fit and toned. But it seems that the days when five hours of clubbing and skipping a few meals to "do the trick" are long gone. Let’s just say I am glad I have a few more months to go.
I haven’t tried on any wedding dresses, as I have a good idea of the style that I want to wear — nothing too formal. And I might not go for such high stilettos this time since we’ll be in the countryside. The advantage of being a 40-something bride is that I know what suits me these days.
I do know for sure that I will be taking a little more care of this dress. Last time I received a phone call from the hotel two days after the wedding, saying they had found my dress in the bath and asking if I'd like to come and pick it up. I’m sure that explains why it looks so small — it must have shrunk a bit.
Bridal expert Katie Byrne understands the appeal of being able to do things differently for your second wedding. "I think a second wedding is obviously an opportunity for a person to include details that were 'missing' from their first wedding — a learning curve of what does and doesn't matter to them as they are in the present, with the added bonuses that age can bring: a larger budget, perhaps, or a more refined sense of style. Plus, what's available will change over the years, too. For example, our parents wouldn't have had customized wedding hashtags or Krispy Kreme donut towers! Not only can it be an opportunity to include family or friends (and children of the bride and groom) who weren't at the first celebration, but it can also afford the couple an opportunity to have the wedding they might not have had first time around — maybe on a beach in that gorgeous dress the bride couldn't dream of buying when she was younger, and so on."
With a second wedding, you find yourself coming at it from a different perspective. This is my fiancé Josh’s second time, too. He had a huge first wedding in Bali and he had wanted this one to be smaller. Needless to say, we are meeting somewhere in the middle in terms of numbers, but as to making a whole weekend of it, we are in total agreement. As an Australian, Josh loves a good recovery party, so the day after the wedding we are all heading to the Kings Head, our favorite pub owned by our great friends.
What mostly makes this wedding so incredibly special is that Josh and I have the opportunity to share the day with both my gorgeous, funny, and brilliant children. Arthur, now 17, will be best man, and Lola, 13, is my maid of honor. How amazing to be able to stand alongside them in the church when we say our vows and have them so involved in our happy day. Now fifteen years older, I appreciate more than ever how important these occasions are, these precious moments to get together with family and friends to celebrate love and life.
This article was originally written by Tilly Wood. For more, check out our sister site, Grazia.