I’m getting married for the second time, and to tell you the truth, I've been treating it like a second wedding. When I say a second wedding, I probably mean second-class wedding.
"I want a simple dress. It's a second wedding," I told the sales lady when shopping for a gown.
"I don't need a shower or bachelorette party. It's a second wedding," I said to friends who wanted to plan something.
"I don’t want a big wedding. It's a second wedding," I told my fiancé when discussing the kind of wedding we should plan.
I just don't want to be one of those brides parading around like this is the biggest day of my life. I got married already. I am divorced. I already have two kids in grade school. I have perspective. A wedding is one day. One day. I've been around long enough to know there are many important days that, in hindsight, are more important than a party.
I can name several offhand. Giving birth to two babies. Teaching them to talk and walk. Holding their hands on the first day of grade one. Listening to them read. Standing in a freezing cold arena, my teeth chattering from nerves—not from the cold—while they try out for a competitive hockey team. Sending them off to overnight camp for the first time, while waving goodbye and trying not to cry.
These are all the most important days for me. These days, and all the moments in between, keep me busy enough as it is. Which raises another point: at this stage in my life, I don't have time to plan a wedding. Or maybe I don't want to make the time. I find it indulgent. Needlessly expensive. Embarrassing.
It turns out, I may be approaching this all wrong. My bad attitude didn't hit home until recently, when I brought my sister and best friend to look at two finalists in my wedding gown search. I'd already been to the same dress store with my mom, and another time with my future mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I'd narrowed it down to two different, but simple, "second wedding" dresses.
My mom loved one, which was yellowish in hue, modest and beaded. The other was strapless, lace and the color blush. Blush is probably how I felt as I tried wedding dresses on for my second wedding. I hate being the center of attention, and I resented having to spend two days of my life standing on a raised platform in a wedding gown store. I needed my sister and BFF to break the tie so I wouldn't have to stand here again.
I could tell by the looks on their faces they didn't like either.
"You're not old—you're young. You should have a sexier dress," my BFF insisted.
"This one is yellow! You can't wear a yellow gown to your wedding," my sister guffawed.
"Fine," I said. "So help me find another one. I'm not leaving this store until I have a wedding dress." There was no way I was coming back to hem and haw a fourth time. I had freelance writing deadlines to meet, groceries to buy, kids to pick up at the camp bus stop. Today was the day.
By the time I left the store, I did have a dress. It was without a doubt more va-va-voom. It was definitely more white in color. And it was beautiful. Both my sister and BFF agreed this was the one. I even rang the "Say Yes to the Dress" bell.
I felt a little ridiculous, but I realized that if I could let go, just a little bit, I might enjoy this second wedding as much as my first. I even let them talk about planning a bachelorette dinner and maybe even a getaway somewhere together before the wedding.
"I'm not getting dressed up and going to clubs with a veil on," I told them. That kind of party, in my mind, is suited more for a 25-year-old bride, and I'm not even sure I would have liked it at that age. Instead, they're planning something more low-key, more me, but just as fun.
I suppose it's not every day that two people meet in spite of the odds, fall in love, and navigate the ups and downs of relationships and family life. It's not every day you find a best friend you want to laugh with and cry to above everyone else. It's not every day you get to hold hands with the person who makes you feel proud to be you.
When I think about it like this, I realize I do have something special to celebrate. It's an occasion that deserves a nice dress and a bachelorette party. What also makes it special is that we do have kids, and I want them to be excited about our wedding. It's not every day kids get to see their parents get married.
I'm going to say "I do" to a better attitude. I'm going to let myself be excited, to not downplay how important and special this actually is. If not for me—because I'm already so wise and experienced—then for our kids. I'm going to say "yes" to a second wedding. And I should probably stop calling it that, too.
Written by Erin Silver
Erin Silver is a freelance writer and blogger with more than 15 years experience writing for major magazines and newspapers in Canada and the United States. A single mom to two rambunctious young boys, she is inspired to share her experiences on everything from divorce and single parenting to dating and blending families. Visit her at ErinSilver.ca.