I do, take two: the rise of the second wedding

5 July 2019
By Fashion Quarterly

Not content with one big day, more and more couples want to have their three-tier semi-naked cake and eat it too.

Dust off your dancing shoes! Book another rural minicab, three weeks in advance! Scrub the red wine stains off your emergency pashmina and empty the petals and tiny polaroids out of your clutch bag – second wedding season is here!

But that doesn’t mean what you think it does; not second marriages. The elephant in this room isn’t divorce, it’s déjà vu. We’re talking couples who do the whole shebang again, sometimes before the ink is even dry on the photographer’s prop certificate. Do-over weddings. Fweddings. Nope-tials.

Exhibit A: Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas who have just been in France for their second ceremony. Their first wedding being a Vegas ceremony officiated by an Elvis impersonator, which took place after the Billboard Music Awards in May.

The public lapped it up in all its kitschy glory, the bride in her slinky white jumpsuit and shades, with Diplo live-streaming the whole thing from the back of the chapel. The Parisian sequel was “a more traditional” affair, with the bride wearing a dress designed by Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquiere.

Turner and Jonas are the latest in a long line of celebs to say “I still do”. Karlie Kloss and her husband Joshua Kushner recently hosted a prairie-inspired second wedding in Wyoming, eight months after they originally got hitched. Penn Badgely and Domino Kirke had two ceremonies, four months apart in 2017. And finally, George and Amal Clooney celebrated their Venice wedding in 2014 with a follow-up bash for 200 at a Buckinghamshire stately home. Well, wouldn’t you?

When you’re a millionaire A-lister with the funds to cover two huge dos, plus travel and accommodation for several hundreds of your closest friends, the double wedding phenomenon is hardly shocking.

But like every celebrity trend, this one is inevitably trickling down to the mere mortals; mortals who aren’t about to fly you to Provence and put you up in a luxury gîte, but would still love the pleasure of your company and not to mention, a wedding gift.

We’ve already seen a rise in ‘event weddings’ – this year Bridebook reported a 26% increase in the number of couples spreading their celebration over several days, while next-day brunches for everyone to compare photos, hangovers and dancefloor injuries are well and truly a thing.


Now that the big day has morphed into the big weekender, or even the big week, so a nuptial redux that happens weeks or months after the first wedding is becoming more common too.

For British guests, who already spend an average of £391 a year on weddings and their associated activities, this trend could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Not to mention landing a serious dent in our annual leave allocation.

The second wedding introduces a new raft of etiquette conundrums too. Is a second gift required? Can we wear the same outfit to both? Must we cry the same amount? Do we have to think of new things to say to all the aunties? Is posting a photo of the couple captioned “still married!” acceptable?

Still, let’s be fair for a minute. There are many, totally valid, reasons why couples might choose to tie a double knot.

Separate religious and civil ceremonies, for example, where fitting both into one day alongside myriad rituals and hundreds of guests would be too much of a headache.

Two weddings are the norm for many first-generation kids, who often have one (big, fat) traditional wedding to keep their parents and family happy, and then another more intimate, personalised wedding with a guest list the couple can actually control.

This two-part sequence is the perfect, though costly solution for a generation that has grown up with two cultures side by side. The traditional wedding offers sentiment for the older generation, while the second wedding is a closer reflection of the couple themselves.

Likewise, international couples with far-flung families are often obliged to have two sufficiently massive parties, to satisfy both sets of loved ones and avoid the classic “you want me to spend how much on a flight to Bali?” comment.

While it’s easy for cash-strapped guests to gripe, let’s not forget that the pressure on couples to please everybody can be equally draining.

Then there’s the growing trend for humanist or independent wedding celebrants, who can conduct your ceremony any place you like – in a forest clearing, up a mountain, on a rollercoaster – but don’t have the legal powers to make your union legit.

According to a survey by Bridebook outdoor weddings have seen a 3% rise in the past year, while nearly 40% of couples would now consider choosing a friend over a qualified registrar.

In the mad three-ring circus that is the modern wedding industry, one of the nicer developments is the freedom for couples to make their big day truly personal. And sometimes, that means doing it twice, at least until the law changes.

But of course, there will always be the ones who take advantage. The couples who see their love as a Disney franchise, to be milked for infinite sequels. Why choose between urban realness and fairytale princess fever dream when you can just do both?

Because, here’s the thing: you can have another wedding, but it still won’t be perfect. You can have five weddings, and they still won’t be perfect. You could spend every weekend from now until your ruby anniversary hauling yourselves round every marquee, yurt, country club, fairy light-festooned warehouse and rustic barn and still not achieve flawless matrimonial nirvana because you are in fact, real humans.

Taking two bites of the nuptial cherry might mean more opportunities to make your dreams come true, but it also means double the chance of drunk uncles, brawling bridesmaids and scandal in the speeches, and those are the things you’ll still be laughing about together, 50 years later.

This article originally appeared on Grazia UK.

Words: Lauren Bravo
Photos: Getty Images

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