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Your Guide to Planning Multiple Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions

Whether you're planning a civil and religious ceremony or want to tie the knot at home and abroad, we're outlining everything you need to know.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Elizabeth Austin Photography

Having two weddings may sound extravagant to some, but for many couples it's the best way to include all of their family and friends. Some brides and grooms (ahem, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin) just want to have a quick, fuss-free wedding for the two of them and worry about all the details of planning a guest-centric wedding later on. For others, it's the only option if the couple wants to get married far from home—sometimes there's just too much red tape to get through in order to make a wedding abroad legal.

 

Whatever the reasoning, multiple weddings are quite common in today's world, which is why we're sharing what you need to know about planning them.

 

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Throwing a Post-Elopement Party

 

There are a few main reasons to have multiple weddings.

The first reason is that you've decided to have a destination wedding and a local celebration, either because your destination wedding will be small or because the legal requirements are too complicated to make the far-flung ceremony official. Another reason why you may opt to have two weddings? In the event that the two of you are from different countries, you may want equal opportunities to celebrate with both families. One other big reason why couples plan two weddings is because they've eloped (maybe at a local courthouse or some far-flung destination on their own) and want to follow that event up with a grander or more religious ceremony and celebration.

 

You can have a civil ceremony and a celebratory ceremony.

Whether you need to get the legal ceremony out of the way locally before heading to your destination wedding or you're eloping at the courthouse, you'll likely want to have a second ceremony with your family and friends present. If you're planning big weddings in two destinations due to an international marriage, you can have ceremonies at both weddings if you choose, but it's not a necessity.

 

You don't have to tell people about the civil ceremony if you don't want to.

There's no obligation to let your guests (or even your family) know that the ceremony they're attending isn't the only ceremony you've had. In fact, some couples find it more romantic that they're in on a little secret together and prefer to let guests think the ceremony they were invited to was the one and only celebration.

 

Planning two weddings is hard work.

If you're planning two wedding receptions, it'll make your workload a lot easier if you decide to prioritize one as more custom and let the other be less detailed. For example, the first wedding might be at a private estate where all the furniture, lighting, and décor is brought in while the second might take place at a resort that includes everything you need besides flowers and attire. The less decisions you have to make for the second go around, the more relaxed you'll be.

 

Related: How to Figure Out Your Wedding Budget

 

Be realistic about budgeting for two weddings.

Managing two wedding budgets is no small task, but if you're realistic from the start and set a budget you know is comfortable for you and your families, you'll save yourself a lot of stress throughout the process.

 

You'll probably want two totally different aesthetics.

Rather than wearing your wedding dress twice, you'll probably want two separate sets of attire that work well with each venue you've chosen. While the first wedding may be very formal, you might choose to have a casual cocktail party for the second wedding. As such, you'll want outfits that reflect the unique environments.

 

Your wedding party should only be involved in one of the weddings.

It would be somewhat unreasonable to ask your wedding party to purchase attire, flights, hotel rooms, and more for two weddings. So, you'll probably want to stick with having them involved in just one of the ceremonies.

 

Your guest lists may have some overlap.

It's important to lets friends and family know that they're under no obligation to attend both weddings, but you should send invitations for both events to your immediate family and closest friends.