Wedding Etiquette for a Widow's Second Marriage

Updated February 21, 2017

When a woman is getting married after the death of her first husband, the rules and etiquette surrounding the wedding are a little different. However, many aspects of the wedding planning are up to the bride's discretion, and she can even incorporate new family traditions that will make the day even more special.


For a second wedding, the couple is responsible for distributing the invitations. This means that the bride and groom can make the invitations as original or intimate as possible. It is appropriate for a widow to include the title "Mrs.," as well as her married last name (given by her deceased husband) in the invitation. A young widow may choose to have her parents issue the invitations to her second wedding, even if her mother and father distributed the invitations for the first ceremony.

Since guest lists for second weddings are also usually shorter than for first weddings, original designs can be included in the invitations for a more affordable price, as well as personal messages thanking the couple's loved ones for their support and attendance.

Ceremony and Dress

A widow who is remarrying should include her children in the planning and participation of the wedding ceremony, if possible. Sons and daughters should be the first people to be notified when the widow decides to get married again, and should give their "blessing" to the new union. Daughters can serve as bridesmaids or maids of honour in the wedding, and the oldest son can walk his mother down the aisle and give her away, if the bride so chooses. However, more than one child, or the bride's best friend, can walk her down the aisle as well.

Widows, according to etiquette, should wear light purple or lilac for their second wedding, but some brides choose to wear white again, which is acceptable.


The reception can be as small or large as the new couple wants it to be. The wedding reception for a second marriage is not always hosted by the groom's family (which is traditional for first marriages), so the couple might choose instead to have a small dinner at a fine restaurant with close friends or loved ones, or to have a home dinner and celebration. If the reception is held at a larger venue, the receiving line should be different for a second wedding, according to etiquette, since the parents of the bride and groom may not be present. The bride and groom should be at the beginning of the receiving line, with their children next to them.

Gift Registry

For first marriages, many couples indicate the stores where they are registered in the invitation. This is often not the case for second marriages, and some couples decide that they don't want gifts. However, it's still a good idea to register for wedding presents in most cases, since guests will want to bring presents to express their love and support.

Second wedding gifts don't have to be traditional, and can be given to celebrate the lifestyle and habits of the new couple. Great gift ideas include electronics and gift baskets. Some couples ask that their guests make a donation to the bride or groom's favourite charity in lieu of a gift.

Additional Considerations

If the wedding and overall planning for the ceremony will be a little more low-key, it's not imperative for a widow to have wedding attendants, ushers or a large wedding party for her second wedding. A rehearsal dinner is also not required, but an engagement party, as well as an announcement in the paper about the wedding, is perfectly acceptable.

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About the Author

Tamiya King has been writing for over a decade, particularly in the areas of poetry and short stories. She also has extensive experience writing SEO and alternative health articles, and has written published interviews and other pieces for the "Atlanta Tribune" and Jolt Marketing. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in English and is currently pursuing higher education to become a creative writing professor.