For second-time around marriages, personalization is key

Applauding The Encore Bride




Todd Meadow and Lizzi Bickford walk down the aisle in Hamptons style with an original dress designed by Michelle Farmer. Independent/Nathan Coe

We all love the young, blushing bride but what if you have “I do” déjà vu? Second marriages now make up 30 percent of all nuptials.

When it’s not your first time around the bridal block, where is the road map? For “encore” weddings, as the Emily Post Institute calls them, what are the new rules? Surprisingly, not many. You can wear white. You can have a big to-do, complete with bridal showers and bachelor parties. Gone are the days where women would don a modest pastel suit and go with hubby number two (or three or four) to the Justice of the Peace.

The good news is couples can create their own nuptial vision, and bridesmaids can avoid taffeta nightmares which get recycled into shoe box linings for hamsters who have met an unfortunate demise. Most of the advice from Post’s predecessors revolves around including extended family and making sure all legal, financial, and emotional issues are finalized so you can imagine your honeymoon hot tub without your lawyers involved.

Traditions can also be updated. Instead of walking down the aisle, how about arriving by boat? At The Boathouse in the Island Boatyard and Marina in Shelter Island, you can arrive via water and step into a newly renovated event space with a deck and field, and, after a fun-filled reception, literally sail off into the sunset.

Leyla Marchetto, of Navy Beach in Montauk, works with her husband and partner Franklin Ferguson to create memorable weddings. She says, “For second weddings, they do all kinds of non-traditional activities from water weddings (married like a baptism in the water surrounded by friends) to small ceremonies by themselves on the bluffs (almost like eloping). Then they meet all of their guests at Navy Beach for an intimate dinner and still have the entire restaurant to themselves for dancing the night away,” she said.

“Some couples have even been married at their local town hall and instead of the ceremony witnessed by their friends and family, their guests take turns giving speeches about their lives and how they connected throughout dinner or a cocktail hour,” Marchetto added.

Events by Peter Ambrose encourages couples to make their second wedding unique and memorable in everything from the menu to the signature cocktails, floral arrangements, and overall design. Ambrose suggests, “Incorporate dishes that reflect your childhood upbringing or items your friends and family link to you when they see it. Serve unique dishes such as Peruvian ceviche or Moroccan tajines that tie in a personal connection to your special day.”

Jessica Matarese of Events by Peter Ambrose says, “Our creativity and ideas spin off of the personalities of our clients. We encourage our clients to incorporate the accents of their venue. Events by Peter Ambrose collaborated on a wedding at the Parrish Art Museum with planners Sarah and Taylor, co-founders of Duke Van Deusen Event Planning, and the team of Ovando NY that featured a play on neon. We incorporated the contemporary neon artwork created by Keith Sonnier displayed around the venue and created a Tuscan antipasto cocktail station that was elevated by neon colored vessels and greenery to make it pop.”

Second marriages can often combine not only diverse families but spiritual practices. One of the Hamptons’ most picturesque churches, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton, welcomes couples of diverse faiths to have their ceremony in its beautiful, historic sanctuary. Some second time couples may choose simply to have nature as the backdrop for their vows. For the en plein air couple, Gurney’s Resort in Montauk has a unique oceanfront setting with different venues including a private beach, multi-level outdoor decks, indoor dining, and banquet spaces. And oh yes, this is a great spot for a proposal.

A second time around bride may also not feel like a traditional, “Say Yes to the Dress” moment at a formal bridal salon. For Hamptons designer Michelle Farmer, whose store, Michelle Farmer Collaborate, is in Southampton, working with second time brides gives her the chance to design something sleek and sophisticated, such as for bride Lizzi Bickford who was marrying Todd Meadow.

“Finding the right dress is like finding the right husband — when you know it’s right, you feel it,” said Bickford. “I adore Michelle and am in awe of her talent, craftsmanship, and eye for detail. We had so much fun working together throughout the summer at her Southampton store, dreaming up and designing the perfect gown for the occasion. Over the course of just a few short weeks, Michelle created a one of a kind gown and cape made from white bias-cut silk and chiffon. Every detail of the dress, like my wedding, was incredibly personal.”

For encore marriages, it does seem that personal is the key word. In the Hamptons, you can do it your way with talented people able to manifest your vision, grand or intimate. Because this “I do” is for you.