There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you plan a wedding. Much of what is covered by etiquette is simply there to help you avoid the uncomfortable moment that comes with a etiquette faux pas. And regardless of how well you follow the manual on manners there will always be a stickler that brings up some perceived slight. This is just how things are. And when it comes to a second wedding there are many more stones to trip you up along the way.
And I am serious when I say this traditional etiquette doesn’t make much sense these days as many couples divorce or are widowed, and most are dual income.
That being said….
I personally would be happy to go to a bride’s second wedding’s bridal showers and engagement parties. This is a chance to enjoy a day with her. With people that she cares for, and for people who care for her. This is the true spirit of the bridal shower. That means you shouldn’t feel self-confident about enjoying all of the enmities that a wedding brings with it. Enjoy the bridal shower. When your maid of honor tells you to look for the bridal shower invitation in the mail, get excited, get ready, and get the enjoyment out of the day that you might not have had the first time.
Just don’t expect a gift.
Many people will be happy to attend your bridal shower, but they will be less excited to give a gift. There is a good chance that many of your guests, at least those from your side of the family will be present at both. Friends as well. And they just might not be able to bring themselves to brining a second gift.
I say this because I think it is important to share opinions on etiquette and changes to it to help move things forward and be comfortable with our choices. I have even read that it is only a second wedding if the bride has been married before but not the groom! Some of this etiquette was developed in a time of shaming those who divorced and not allowing them societal privileges. In the past the financial and social implications of divorce and remarriage were different. Now men and woman are more equally financially and might both benefit from new stuff in marriage even if married before. From a practical standpoint, the toasters get split and they do wear out!
Weddings should not be done in order to get presents, and also people should not skip a gift if they would normally give one, even if they already gave one for a similar occasion. Heck if someone graduates twice would you only gift the first graduation? It is a new relationship, a new thing to celebrate. In a way the old etiquette would make me think that those invited to the free party the first time around shouldn’t be invited the second time! Again though, a wedding is about the celebration and being together, not the gifts. It is just sad to hear some brides being told, effectively, they they don’t deserve or aren’t worthy of gifts because they had a marriage that ended in divorce (typically a very difficult situation and often not the bride’s ‘choice’ or ‘fault’.)
I feel the same way about engagement parties and bachelorette parties. Some women might be surprised to hear you are having another bachelorette/engagement party. Of course, all this depends on your personal situation and all but the most traditionally minded guests might have a problem with this (they tend to be the worst guests anyway).
They are both celebrating real things that are happening, even if they are happening ‘again.’ The couple is engaged, why not celebrate that! Maybe even more now that they have gone through a tremendous breach of trust and are taking the risk to trust again. The bride is also a bachelorette again and is giving that up again, why not celebrate that?
If we refuse to celebrate a bride being married for a second time they way we would one being married for the first time, we also make things more difficult for the man (fewer celebrations, being told his bride is ‘t ok to have celebrations) and basically shame and punish him for not marrying a ‘better woman.’
I can understand no shower if the couple is perceived as having things, but that should be more due to age and life stage and not divorce. In divorce, all previous gifts go to one or the other or are split, so the bride (or groom) might have very little. Plus things wear out, and maybe the couple wants to start fresh? Refusing to do bridal parties etc is just another way of telling a bride she is not deserving because of her past. No one is guaranteed a shower ever, and no one should expect it. I just don’t think the standard should be different because of divorce. Many parents now have a baby shower for every kid to get stuff (always need more, replace what wore out, new gender, new weather season, etc) If we are willing to celebrate a new kid for a mother, couldn’t we also celebrate a new marriage for a woman?
I know that the traditional etiquette was brought up because the discussion called for it. I wanted to give my opinion on how I think things have changed. Etiquette should be about keeping everyone comfortable, and this older etiquette does not do that, so rejecting it seems to be the best etiquette.