Privilege Blog

What To Wear For Your Second Wedding

My mother married my stepfather in the early 80’s. They held their small wedding, family only, at the chapel at Columbia University, where I was in the middle of my MBA studies. It’s a beautiful place.

They held the reception at the Junior League in New York. Another beautiful place.

And my mother wore a Chanel shirtdress. Extra beautiful. Which still hangs in the upstairs storage closet in Santa Barbara. It was, unsurprisingly, peach.

We shopped for dresses together, mom and all three sisters. At some point we tried on Zandra Rhodes dresses, and laughed so hard we fell over. One sister found a dress that she now describes as a giant pink puffball. It had a lot of attachments. I wound up in a dark blue-green, satin, Albert Nipon, with sleeves that, had we filled them with popcorn, would have been bigger than my head. My mother wore this.

My sister agreed to try the dress on this weekend. It doesn’t fit my mom any more. Fitting into your dress 25 years later shouldn’t be one’s first priority. I Photoshopped out my sister’s identifying details. Leaving behind a virtual High WASP mannequin, I suppose. Thank you sister.

Before the wedding we rampaged around New York with our step-sister and brother to be, speaking fake Swedish, ascending the World Trade Center tower and visiting the open viewing deck, where I clung to the coin-operated binoculars in fear. After the wedding we rode in taxis and drank champagne from bottles. I know. I have a picture to prove it.

But that one we really don’t need to plaster all over the Internet, now do we?

This post is in honor of Meg and her relaunched Practical Wedding site, and all the brides, new or second time, because weddings are always new, and always to be cherished even if someone drinks from the bottle. Perhaps especially then. If you are a bride-to-be, go there now. If you are a mother of a bride-to-be, go there now. Many things will be made clear.

Columbia University Chapel via mrkw’s photostream on Flickr.
New York Junior League via wallyg’s photostream on Flickr
Dress photos, me and my sister

33 Responses

  1. Hmmm. I wore a black dress embroidered with huge gold hibiscus to my second wedding. Beloved wore shorts. Of course, we got married under a lemon tree, too.

  2. my mom wore a peach dress to her second wedding (to my father, in the desert.) it was also peach, and had been worn by my grandmother to HER second wedding. The dress, worn by my mother in her early 20s (after the birth of my older brother) was waaaaay too small for me. My rail thin, then 15 year old sister tried it on to maybe wear to our wedding. SHE couldn't even get in it! huh?

  3. What a stunning dress! Simply stunning.

    I'm my husband's third wife. I wore white – it wasn't my fault it took him three tries to get it right.

  4. I love the colour she chose.
    I wore off white. I wanted to wear Navy but nothing would fit and I ran out of time.
    Thanks for your comment on my hair. I was tempted to go with the Annie Lenox look. :)

  5. Perfect timing LPC, since tomorrow is the day my hb and I are attending a second marriage ceremony. Your mothers C dress must be saved forever! It must have looked nice on her. Now I´ll have to keep my eyes wide open and memorize what the bride is wearing tomorrow. To tell the truth, I´m glad not to be in her situation. I can relax and look around. I only hate the 3 hours drive back and forth.

  6. I have fond memories of shopping with my mother for her second wedding dress in 1975. We went into a fancy store at the Chestnut Hill Mall, and she launched into what had become a set speech:

    I need a dress for an evening wedding. It should be a solid color, but not white, red, or black. And it should look good from the back.

    Because my mother was standing there with her 20-something daughter, the sales associate assumed she was shopping for a MOB gown. She looked a little puzzled at my mother's stipulations.

    And then my mother explained "I'm the bride."

    She ending up buying a chocolate brown knit long-sleeved evening dress with a shirred bodice and sort of train-like effect in the back. She looked great, and I wonder where that dress is now?

  7. Jamie, Poppy, I'm surprised that so many other people have mothers with a second wedding story. I suppose I shouldn't be. I love to hear your own second wedding details, Ms. Givens. Patsy, ha! So you should have, I agree completely. Freckles, Pseu I have always remembered this dress and asked my mother if I could show it to everyone just because I think it's so beautiful. And Jan, sounds like a great wedding, yours does…

  8. I haven't attended any second wedding … and is a bit intrigued by the kind of etiquette that would be observed. Care to do a post on this some time? :)

  9. Sounds like a wonderful day! The dress is gorgeous! I like the idea of drinking champagne in a cab in Manhattan… such a dreamy and romantic vision!

  10. You know we're loving the timing on this post Miss LPC, all things wedding are appealing on our Anniversary. (And thank you for your kind sentiments.)

    I must tell you that I think the dress is drop. dead. beautiful. Between the pleating and the gold threads, it is just stunning.

    Someday you'll have to share some "fake Swedish" with us, it sounds like loads of fun!

    Sending you a smile,

  11. I, too, love your stories…they take my breath away from one sentence to the next. What a classic dress!

  12. My cousin had her wedding at the Columbia University chapel… it's such a beautiful location!

  13. My husband's first marriage was his first wife's second. (Still with me?) She was 36 with two daughters from her first marriage. She'd already had the big wedding the first time, but got another white muffin dress for her wedding to my husband. Maybe the non-tacky thing to do is wear the traditional white once, then switch to something elegant but more second-wedding appropriate for your subsequent marriages.

    My grandmother fit into her wedding dress for her 50th anniversary party, but for as much cooking as she did, eating never seemed to be a big deal for her. Plus she spent a lot of time gardening and other farm stuff. I did not, alas, inherit her metabolism.

  14. Sounds like you had quite the blast. I can't imagine ever having a second wedding, but stranger things have happened. If I do, you know who I'm gonna call…
    LOVE your mom's dress!

  15. My mother wore a simple cream silk number and I remember thinking that she looked stunning. I had a bigger problem (literally) because I was 8 months pregnant and nothing would fit me. I ended up wearing a bubble shaped red dress and now everytime I look at the pictures a have a 'what was I thinking' moment. I stand out as a giant strawberry….

  16. That chapel is gorgeous, as is that dress!
    p.s. As I lived in Sweden for a year I can manage some fake Swedish too. Ja, ärlig! är det till räckligt bra?

  17. That is a gorgeous dress, and I see your mother was shopping from her color palette, ha!

    Would your sister ever want to wear it out? Would your mother want her to do so?

  18. Poppy, your mom's dress sounds amazing!

    LPC, add me to the list interested in your fake Swedish.

  19. Oh, the original Nipon dresses were to die for with all the little pleats which were their trademark. I love second weddings which equal second chances. I do not like the white traditional wedding dresses for seconds however – showing my age, I know. Wear white if you must but make it different like a silk shantung suit which is usually better in color and not a soft color like the mother of the bride type. I also think it is tacky to have showers and register for second weddings. We love to give concert or theater tickets. No one at this point should need anything.

  20. The wonderful thing about 2nd weddings is that you can really wear what you want.
    How lovely for your mother to have found her second love and to still be married to him so many years later…After three fiances and no second wedding, I've long given up the thought about what I would wear should I marry again…sigh.

  21. Love this whole post–and that peach dress is just perfect for a second wedding. Would love to see your Nipon though!

    xo Mary Jo

  22. My BFF is getting remarried July 4th, in a purple number from MoMoFalna. Let me tell you, the second time, I really do think – rightfully – anything goes!

    In any event, I would wear that dress anywhere on this day, or 25 years from now. Well done, Mama!

  23. I wore a Renee DuMaar burgundy suit with a burgundy dyed fox collar…very Joan Collins. If I was going to be portrayed as the evil step-mother, I decided to embrace my character! We renew our vows every 5 years. This is going to be year 10…it looks like we'll be spending it in Key West. Year 5 was in Vegas with all of it's tacky charms. I'm thinking sundress and sandals this year.

  24. Your Mum's wedding dress is so pretty. When I married my 1st husband, I was 23 and wore a copy of my Mother's 1966 wedding dress. If I were to remarry I's wear some sort of non bridal frock thing. Short. Maybe in a bright colour.

  25. ADG – Irrepressible.

    Everyone – These dresses all sound wonderful. I think a post on second weddings in general is on order. With reference to all of you in yours, and our mothers in theirs.

  26. Very enjoyable post and I also enjoyed the comments. This reminded me of my brother's wedding in June, 1987 in Spring Lake NJ at my mother's beachfront home. It was his 2nd marriage to my lovely SIL and I recall sauntering around Spring Lake with my very cool uncle. We ended up at the E&S (Essex & Sussex) which was then still open as a summer hotel at the pool in all our glam clothes. We sat for a while then went back to enjoy the beautiful wedding.

  27. What a beautiful dress. I would wear it now. At least find an excuse to wear it somewhere. When my Dad got married again, I can't remember what I wore. I do remember drinking before the wedding even started ;D

  28. A gorgeous dress on its own, and gorgeously appropriate for the occasion, too. My revered aunt wore peach for her "real" marriage, as she calls it. The first one was fake in every way except the paperwork, bless her heart.

  29. That dress is beautiful, but it was the virtual WASP mannequin that really got me. You had to obliterate her entire head and legs, not just blur out her face?? Too funny. I needed a bit of hilarity after a long day at the office; thank you.

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