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Must a second (or third, or twelfth) wedding be an intimate affair? |
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Must a second (or third, or twelfth) wedding be an intimate affair?

Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I’m engaged to a wonderful man, “Jim,” and we’re planning our wedding. We just booked a gorgeous inn and I am going to wear a stunning full-length white dress. We’ll also be having a sit-down dinner with band and dancing for the reception.

I’m in my 30s and Jim is in his 40s, and we are paying, so no one else really has any say in this, but since it’s my third wedding and his second, we’re catching a surprising amount of flak from both our families.

Is there some kind of limit to how many big weddings you’re “allowed” to have? My mom and his sisters are acting like we’re violating some unwritten rule that this wedding has to be small and intimate.

This isn’t a gift grab since we’re planning to indicate “no gifts necessary.” I asked my mom if she had doubts about me and Jim but she insists it’s the wedding, and even said, “Enough with the big weddings.” We can fully afford this nice but not too elaborate wedding, so why all the grief? Are they living in the past or have we made some kind of awful goof?

— Engaged

I’m going with “neither.” They’re not living in the past and you’re not making some awful goof.

Chances are both parties are acting on some unspoken internal doubts: They’re concerned you’ve learned nothing from Jim 1 and Jim 2 and are forging ahead as if it’s a do-over, and you’re concerned you won’t be taken seriously because you’ve been here before.

If that’s the case, then my advice is — for you, and for your family too if they’re watching — to reckon with your own stuff as needed emotionally instead of fighting a proxy war through the wedding.

By that I mean, you resolve any doubts you have about (this) marriage head-on, not through event planning; and your families reckon privately with their concerns versus channeling them through canape-carping.

If you’re confident you’re doing what’s right for you in marrying Jim, then celebrate how you want to. And feel free to say to your critics, “We’re happy. We’re celebrating. I hope you’ll join us.” No further discussion necessary.

Dear Carolyn:

Does there reach a point on the introversion scale where you’ve gone too far? I work from home and rarely see other people besides my wife. I’m finding more and more that I like it that way and don’t really want to see friends or family. I’m not depressed, I just prefer to be home alone or only with my wife. Should I challenge my introversion and go out with friends from time to time, or is being an extreme introvert OK?

— OK?

You’re treating your circumstances now as if life is permanent, which we all know it isn’t. What will you do if your wife suddenly isn’t around to serve as your only source of companionship? What if you lose your friends and family to relocation, alienation or death? What’s your Plan B?

If you don’t feel like having one, then that’s your prerogative. If I were you, though, I wouldn’t let my connections and social muscles atrophy completely. It’s so much easier to maintain them now than it is to rebuild them later.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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