Marriage In Your 20s Vs Getting Married In Your 40s: How I’m Doing Things Differently For My Second Wedding

Tilly Wood planned her first wedding in a month and didn't have an evening do. 15 years later, she's getting married for the second time, and plans to do things very differently...

Tilly Wood wedding

by Tilly Wood |

According to the Office for National Statistics, 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce. Some see this as a dismal fact, but I always like to look on the bright side. In this case it means there are plenty of people like me out there who are now finding themselves in their forties and in the lovely position of getting married for a second time –and with the opportunity to plan another wedding.

The first time I got married, aged 29, I really had no idea what this entailed. We were pretty rock-and-roll back then and I remember pulling it all together in just over a month. Luckily – and with a lot of help from a few good friends (thank you!), it all came together perfectly. I wore the most beautiful bespoke Gharani Strok dress, all my close friends and family were there and my son Arthur, then only 16 months old accompanied me up the aisle.

Till Wood

On the other hand, we gave next to no thought to the menu, hadn’t tasted the champagne or wine and opted to play down somepotentially tricky family dynamics by not organising a party after the reception. Of course, everyone had a brilliant time on the day and with no official after-party booked, we ended up with a few mates in our wedding suite, causing havoc in the hallway with a laundry trolley and ‘the wedding CD’ on repeat. Fortunately it was pre-social media.

There are so many things that I loved about that wedding. But as I find myself planning a second wedding, there are lots of things I want do differently. Firstly, I want to make the absolute most of every single minute. If I think back to my first wedding, I just hadn’t realised how much I would enjoy the actual day itself. I would have liked the day to be longer, to have gone into an evening event. This time after the ceremony and a relaxed summer lunch, I am really looking forward to the wedding party.

Having first married in a hotel in Richmond, it felt really important to me this time to go back home and have the wedding in the tiny church in the village where I spent an idyllic, if slightly chaotic childhood (and some fairly rebellious teenage years) and where my darling Dad is buried. The reception and party will be close by in my sister’s beautiful garden and we are staying at the Lords of the Manor hotel. My family turned this stunning family home into a hotel when I was very young. Managed by my uncle and aunt, my godmother was chef, I have many happy memories of parties in the grounds, my first Pimms at the bar and falling asleep on the hay bales after a barn dance.

Till Wood
Tilly on her first wedding day, with her son Arthur

Having longer to plan, I have the opportunity to take a bit more care and thought over some of the smaller details that can make a wedding day feel very unique; hand-written place cards, well chosen thank you gifts; I don’t remember giving any before! My sister and I are discussing the flowers, as she has offered to grow and cut them for the event.

The first time I got married it didn’t cross my mind to get fit beforehand or do any beauty prep for the day and remember my tiny dress slipping on with ease. As I am now in my 40s, I am aware that the ‘effortless look’ is going to take a little bit more work. When I consulted my lovely friend Olivia, a personal trainer, she promptly told me that as it was September and the wedding is in June, we should start right away! I was obviously in denial, as I couldn’t believe it would take so long to get fit and toned. But it seems that the days when five hours clubbing and skipping a few meals to ‘do the trick’ are long gone. Let’s just say I am glad I have a few more months to go.

I haven’t tried on any wedding dresses as I have a good idea of the style that I want to wear – nothing too formal and I might not go for such high stilettos this time as we’ll be in the countryside . The advantage of being a 40 something bride is that I know what suits me these days.

I do know for sure that I will be taking a little more care of this dress. Last time I received a phone call from the hotel two days after the wedding, saying they had found my dress in the bath and would I like to come and pick it up? I’m sure that explains why it looks so small; it must have shrunk a bit.

Bridal expert Katie Byrne understands the appeal of being able to do things differently for your second wedding. ‘I think a second wedding is obviously an opportunity for a person to include details that were 'missing' from their first wedding - a learning curve of what does and doesn't matter to them as they are in the present, with the added bonuses that age can bring: a larger budget, perhaps, or a more refined sense of style. Plus, what's available will change over the years, too - for example, our parents wouldn't have had customised wedding hashtags or Krispy Kreme donut towers! Not only can it be an opportunity to include family or friends (and children of the bride and groom!) who weren't at the first celebration but it can also afford the couple an opportunity to have the wedding they might not have had first time around - be it on a beach, in that gorgeous dress the bride couldn't dream of buying when she was younger and so on.’

With a second wedding, you find yourself coming at it from a different perspective - this is my fiancé Josh’s second time too. As he had a huge first wedding in Bali, he had wanted this one to be smaller. Needless to say, regarding numbers, we are meeting somewhere in the middle, but as to making a whole weekend of it we are in total agreement. As an Australian, Josh loves a good recovery party, so the day after the wedding we are all heading to the Kings Head, our favourite pub in the Cotswolds owned by our great friends.

What mostly makes this wedding so incredibly special is that Josh and I have the opportunity to share the day with both my gorgeous, funny and brilliant children. Arthur, now 17 will be best man and Lola, 13, is my maid of honour. How amazing to be able to stand alongside them in the church when we say our vows and have them so involved in our happy day. Now fifteen years older, I appreciate more than ever how important these occasions are, these precious moments to get together with family and friends to celebrate love and life.

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