Dear Miss Manners:
My ex-husband and I were happily married for 25 years with three children and later two grandchildren. We ended up separating for two years due to infidelity on his part. Because I couldn't get over his betrayal and had lost trust in him, I divorced him.
He said his weakness had nothing to do with his love for me and that the other women had meant absolutely nothing to him. They were just flings--impulsive acts, which he was very regretful and remorseful about. He was adamantly against the divorce--fought it tooth and nail--and wanted to rekindle our marriage.
Well, now, after five years, lots of talking and getting to the bottom of what caused the breakdown in our marriage, we have decided to try again and remarry. We do love each other, I believe he's learned his lesson, and that we have many good shared memories of our life together and plans for the future, though it does feel kind of nutty remarrying the same person!
What are your thoughts on remarriages? I read recently that it is becoming more common.
Our first marriage was done at the justice of the peace with a small reception afterward. This time I want a few family members, including our children and grandchildren, to "witness" our vows, and have a small but "real" wedding with a nice reception for both family and friends. Is that acceptable or should we just slip off quietly to do it with little fuss or recognition? Can I wear white, or at least off-white? What is proper?
True, there are a lot more wedding repeaters, but Miss Manners does not have the impression that this is because your situation has become common. The others are either starting fresh with someone new or renewing vows that, although not formally broken by divorce, seem to have come up for option.
Although she suspects that the style is usually that of the youthful first wedding simply because weddings are the only glamorously formal occasion left in most people's relentlessly casual lives, Miss Manners doesn't grudge it to them.
It is a mystery to her why a mature lady would sacrifice everything she has learned about stylishness to dress up like a young girl, rather than seize the opportunity to find a smashingly chic suit or dress and hat. But if that's what she wants, and her friends are happy to indulge her, Miss Manners has no desire to spoil the fun. Whatever the circumstances, she has always believed that pronouncing who can wear white and who can't is a vulgar pastime.
Therefore, please understand that it is because she wishes you well that she asks you to pay particular attention, in your case, to the symbolism. Those who use the first-wedding style for second marriages will tell you that the latest marriage is the first "real" one. Those repeating their vows are acting out "I'd marry you all over again"--which is what you are doing for real.
But surely you are not doing this as if for the first time: Being older and wiser will be the key to this marriage's being more successful than your previous one. And surely your history will be in the minds of your guests.
So although you should have a pretty and charming wedding, Miss Manners would imagine that you would consider a realistic one--one that gracefully admits your being older and marrying for the second time--more real than the pageantry you think of as a "real" wedding.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.