I’m getting married for the second time, but can my children still come first?
By Erin Silver
PHOTO © BELAZZZ/123RF
Nov 10, 2017
I’m getting married. Again. And by the time I tie the knot for the second time, I’ll be 38. My fiancé will be nearly 40, and between us we’ll have three kids in elementary school.
If it’s a lot for you to wrap your head around, trust that it’s a lot for me, too. Back when I was a 24-year-old bride, I spent an entire year planning what I thought would be the biggest day of my life. I obsessed over every detail, and when it was over — and the last thank you card had been written — I wondered how would I spend all my free time. Nowadays I have less time to think about weddings, and frankly I'm so out of the loop. I honestly don’t remember the last time a couple of friends got hitched.
After my first wedding, I graduated to thinking about other life milestones: baby bumps; maternity leave; and kindergarten. Now I spend my time chauffeuring my kids to and from baseball and hockey practice.
As I began planning my second nuptials, it quickly became apparent that planning a second wedding with kids is not the same as your first time. Things are different now. I am busier. I have other priorities and expenses. I'm not in the right head space to devote the same attention to one evening like I did in my twenties, and neither is my fiancé.
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After a lot of discussion, we agreed we wanted a small, intimate wedding. We wanted to do everything in a way that’s less traditional than we did the first time. We don’t feel the need to meet anyone’s expectations or conform to specific standards. In a way, it feels liberating.
When it comes down to it, what we really want is a wedding our kids will remember. After all, how many times do kids get to see their parents get married? We want them to be involved, invested and excited. And we want them to have fun!
But it's so easy to go overboard.
“Do you think the kids would like fireworks?” I asked my soon-to-be husband. “What about a doughnut cake instead of a typical wedding cake? The kids love doughnuts.”
We don’t feel the need to meet anyone’s expectations or conform to specific standards. In a way, it feels liberating.
It occurred to me for a moment he might think I was nuts, but as it turned out, he had ideas of his own.
“Should we hire a magician to entertain them?” he asked. "[For] the kids. And maybe we should bring video games so they can play in another room if they get bored.”
We’ve since realized we might have to scale back our ideas and plan an event that’s more like a wedding than a kid’s birthday party or bar mitzvah.
But there are a few things I would really like. I want to include them in our invitation wording—it’s not just my wedding, it’s ours. I’d like my kids to walk me down the aisle, walking toward our future together hand in hand. They make me strong and brave, and I’d rather hold them over a bouquet any day. I want them to feel like they are also the centre of attention, like this is an exciting event in our famiily's life.
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Our wedding planner had a different view. She encouraged us to consider sending the kids down the aisle together, so that I can still walk down the aisle feeling like a bride. She suggested hiring a sitter to help with the kids that day, so they are entertained and looked after when we are busy attending to our guests. She advised us to personalize the menu so that it’s fun and uniquely “us”, but also sophisticated and refined. So, not chicken fingers and fries!
The wedding is still months away, and we tend to be consumed with the day-to-day of raising kids. We haven’t finalized decisions about invitations, bouquets or how we will all make our way down the aisle. But as our big day gets closer, we will be thinking about how to balance our ideas with those our planner has in mind.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have a doughnut cake instead of a traditional, three-tiered wedding cake... It would be a trendy dessert for us, and the idea is exciting for our kids. I’m sure we’ll need to make some compromises along the way if we want it to be both sophisticated for the adults and fun for our kids.
If I've learned anything from this experience so far, it's that there is no right way to get married with kids. And there's definitely more to consider than I anticipated, even for a smaller wedding. What I do know is that it will be a special day, and one that we and our kids won’t ever forget.