I Had A Gorgeous Wedding — & Then I Had Another One 3 Weeks Later

Photographed by Toni Jade / courtesy of Katie Sanders.
“Looks like you had a fun big day,” the dry cleaner said to me as she inspected my once-immaculate wedding dress. She noted the gown’s broken bustles and blackened rim — evidence of the dancing, sweating, and celebrating that had taken place the previous Saturday night. “I’d recommend our $550 cleaning and preservation package. It’ll ensure the dress’ integrity for the next 200 years and is our most popular.”

“Thanks,” I said. “But I need it again in two weeks.”

The decision to have two weddings just three weeks and 20 miles apart definitely elicited some memorable questions and commentary (along with a barrage of “OMG, did I miss it?” texts from distant relatives who’d seen Facebook pictures from our first wedding but only knew about the second). But it also proved to be a liberating solution to what had been a major storm cloud over our engagement from the moment I said “yes.”

Nate and I had already been living and raising a puppy together in New York City, and we envisioned exchanging “I dos” in an intimate ceremony — celebrating with the people we love, awesome dance music, and definitely a late-night doughnut truck. Nate’s family, however, is part of a tight-knit community of Persian Jews on Long Island, and for them, an Orthodox-Jewish wedding with their 400-plus relatives and friends was incredibly important. This made planning a single event both challenging and unpleasant.

As I Googled “glatt kosher Saturday wedding venues that allow dogs,” my husband-to-be shared a thought: If one wedding was turning out to cost more than we wanted to pay for a hodgepodge celebration that left everyone feeling shortchanged, why not consider two separate weddings?

I’d only heard of the multiple weddings in the context of rich and famous duos like George and Amal and Tom and Gisele. But, in an age when the average couple is more diverse, connected, and Pinterest-obsessed than ever, it turns out throwing separate weddings can sometimes be a realistic option for us non-celebrities, too. So it was settled. Nate and I would cover the first wedding, hosting immediate family and friends at a tire-factory-turned-restaurant in Brooklyn. Nate’s family would take the reins for wedding number two (which we dubbed the “Persian version”), to be held in a suburban synagogue a few weeks later.

We had unknowingly joined a growing club of people who opt to celebrate their marriage more than once.
Photographed by Toni Jade / courtesy of Katie Sanders.

“Classically, we’ve seen that when people of different backgrounds or faiths get married, they either have a blended or a non-denominational ceremony,” says Brides executive editor Lauren Iannotti. “These days, we’ve seen many more couples doing two ceremonies and two receptions — one to authentically honor each of their cultural backgrounds.” She adds that the magazine has been featuring a “dual-wedding couple” per bimonthly issue lately.

A record-high 40% of Americans who’ve tied the knot since 2010 married someone in a different religious group. And — as anyone who’s ever been to an engagement party, two bridal showers, a bachelorette weekend, a rehearsal dinner, and a next-day brunch knows — Americans are increasingly drawing out their nuptials. “We’re seeing couples organize entire weekends filled with different events, so people figure, might as well have two weddings,” says Iannotti, who recently learned of a bride and groom throwing two ceremonies and two receptions in a single day.

True To Ourselves, Respectful Of Our Families
Unable to find the intersection of one family's demands for a Christian ceremony and the other's request for belly dancers and hijabs, Los-Angeles-based bride Chris Oh and her husband Hesh opted to have three weddings, with separate guest lists for each occasion.

Last November, the couple threw their dream wedding for 90 friends on the Sonoma Coast. They footed the bill themselves and called all the shots. They walked down the aisle to Justin Timberlake, decorated the venue with an Old Hollywood ambiance, and gave guests hangover-recovery kits as favors. “My mother would have flipped if that had been the wedding for her guests,” says 38-year-old Oh.

Four months after wedding number one, Oh put on a “way more covered-up” white dress her mother had selected and walked down the aisle again, this time in front of 80 of her parents’ family and friends in a church. Her third wedding, in Egypt, was planned by her in-laws. “We’ve been socialized to think that one wedding has to accomplish everything,” says Oh. “But who makes these rules? Our own wedding ended up making an important statement to our parents: This is who we are.”

For Oh’s Sonoma event, she worked with L.A.-based wedding planner Nancy Park, founder of the boutique firm So Happi Together. Park estimates that at least one-third of her clients in the past few years have thrown two or more weddings, largely in situations when parents’ requests and the couples’ desires are at odds.

“The breaking point is almost always the venue,” Park says. “You wouldn’t believe how often a couple will love a vineyard or a cool co-op space, and the parents aren’t able to fit their guests or just can’t buy into it. That’s when it may become a matter of who is paying.”

Photographed by Toni Jade / courtesy of Katie Sanders.
A Tale Of Two Cities
Along with cultural differences and parental expectations, clients’ growing interest in destination weddings is a common reason Park sees for having separate events. “A lot of my couples want their dream beach wedding in some far-flung location but also do something in their home city for people who aren’t able to travel,” she says. She recalls a bride and groom from London who recently had a small wedding in California (they wanted it to feel like a vacation for their friends) and also threw a local version when they got home.

When it comes to positioning multiple weddings to guests, both Iannotti and Park agree that it’s best to let everyone know about the celebrations ahead of time. “I’ve seen couples use hashags like #nancyandeddypartone and then switch to #nancyandeddyparttwo,” says Park. “People are going to know that there’s more than one wedding, and social media can let them take part in it all.”

“You just have to be careful not to overdo it and ask too much of your guests,” says Iannotti. “Make sure they know they can choose.”

That’s the approach bride-to-be Nina Sovani, a 29-year-old inventory manager at Rent the Runway, is taking. She got engaged to her fiancé, Abhijit, last January. They held a 500-person wedding in India (where their parents live) in September, along with what Sovani calls a “slightly more sane” 150-guest event in New York in November. Their theme: A Tale of Two Cities.

They told their friends to come to whichever was most convenient and exciting to them (or, if they really want, to both). “We want to show our American friends some of the fun cultural elements without making them travel across the world to sit through hours of ceremonies in a different language and eat off banana leaves,” Sovani says.

Having both weddings also appeased Sovani's and her fiancé’s families, who had started party-planning long before there was even a ring.

“When we brought our parents to meet each other four years ago, we left the room for 10 minutes and returned to find them discussing wedding plans,” says Sovani. “It was a very big deal to them. And when you grow up exposed to two different cultures, the wedding feels like a big symbol of that. It’s hard not to embrace both.”
Photographed by Toni Jade / courtesy of Katie Sanders.

You Only Get Married Twice Once
I never anticipated wearing my wedding dress twice in a month — or ever again, really. But on May 30, Nate and I exchanged vows on a Williamsburg patio in the company of 120 friends. My maid of honor’s dad officiated, and our puppy, Maeby, earned the title of World’s Cutest Ring Bearer. Then, everyone drank sangria out of mason jars and danced until their feet gave out. The night indeed ended with a doughnut truck.

Exactly 21 days later, we took our rings off and put our dancing shoes back on to tie the knot again — this time, with a crowd of 405 relatives and family friends in the ballroom of a Long Island temple. The “Persian version” involved a medley of Hebrew blessings and chair dances, enough rice and kebab to nourish a small city, and a surprise family flash mob.

Now that my stints as a bride are over, the dress is up for sale online (side note: Do I have to disclose that I wore it twice?), and the leftover cake slices are in the freezer. I look back on pictures from both wedding days and feel lucky to have been able to kick off my marriage to Nate in a way that honored us as a couple and accommodated our families. Sure, we’re not totally clear on when our anniversary is. But that’s something we can live happily ever after with.

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