Do Double Weddings Make Sense?
Would you share the spotlight at your wedding? Although it’s rare these days, some couples give up being the only stars of their special day in order to share their wedding (and venue…and decorations…and guests) with another couple. Before you shake your head in wonder, consider the benefits of a double wedding.
When siblings share a wedding date, their family gets a big break–meaning more guests can attend. Since long-distance relatives and mutual friends don’t have to set aside two separate chunks of vacation time and travel money for two close-together wedding dates, they’re more likely to show up–and more likely to be generous with wedding gifts, too.
If the bride’s family is following the tradition of footing the wedding bill, it makes great financial sense for sisters to share expenses. Instead of splitting the family’s resources into two modest weddings, both brides can enjoy the benefits of a lavish celebration. They only have to hire one venue, one planner, one caterer, and so on. Don’t make the decision to double up based solely on saving money, though; you should also be close enough siblings that you genuinely cherish the idea of sharing your special day.
Don’t overlook the perks of having two additional sets of helping hands. When it comes to planning a wedding, no one cares more deeply and personally about every detail than the couple getting married. With an extra couple in the mix, you can split your task list down the middle; you and your beloved can handle the invitations while the other lovebirds pin down the venue.
More people means more fun. If you and your sibling (or best friend) have overlapping social circles, combining all four sets of family and friends for the two couples means creating one gigantic party. Plus, if you choose each other as best men and maids of honor, you’ll all have meaningful roles in both ceremonies.
Double weddings work best when all four people getting married that day are close to one another. If your fiancés don’t know each other well and you and your best friend leap into the wedding planning frenzy together, you risk leaving your soon-to-be spouses feeling neglected.
A double wedding is sentimental and beautiful when combined creatively. However, when the couples each want their own version of everything from the first dance to the garter toss, the double wedding becomes doubly long. Try to find a way to combine some traditions (like cutting your cake–or cakes–at the same time) to keep your attendees from cutting out early.
If the worst happens and the other couple splits up a few years down the road, memories of your joint wedding will become awkward reminders for everyone involved. You may want to take down the smiling wedding photos when your single friend comes over. Make sure you’re okay with this possibility, just in case.
If you can’t stand the thought of sharing the spotlight, a double wedding is a terrible idea. People with very definite ideas about details like table runners and bathroom baskets have to be able to compromise with the second couple, or else sharing the celebration won’t work. Be careful of too many cooks spoiling the proverbial broth. Wedding planning arguments could lead to a lifelong feud.
Likewise, if you’re fine with the idea of a double wedding, double-check to make sure everyone else is, too. If you and your sister have planned your twin festivities since childhood, the last thing you want is for the two men marrying you to “go along with it” for your sakes–or for your three families to grit their teeth and smile through planning a wedding they hate. Unless everyone involved is completely on board with no hesitation, a double wedding is a recipe for a drama disaster.
Remember, by inviting another couple to share your special day, you’re not actually losing your spotlight–you’re widening it. Make sure to talk the decision through very thoroughly (including little details, like how to choose the wedding colors, in addition to big things, like whether to have a religious venue). You don’t have to shop for matching wedding dresses or tuxes. You just have to have matching mindsets. And who knows? You may even end up with matching anniversary dinners.
How to Plan a Double Wedding
If you’ve given thought to the pros and cons of planning a double wedding, and you know you want to share your special day with another couple, it’s time to start planning the perfect wedding (well, weddings) day.
The great news is: since you’re sharing the costs of the venue, décor, catering, entertainment, and other wedding vendors, you can go twice as big with all of them!
The first step in planning a happy double wedding is getting all of the participants on the same page. This means you, your fiancé, and both halves of the other couple–and it also includes any family members who are contributing financially (or otherwise have a stake in the wedding details).
Since double weddings run the risk of “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome, it’s important to agree on as many details as you can ahead of time. That way, everyone can make their peace with the inevitable compromises months before the big day, averting a tearful showdown in the florist’s shop.
Start by making a list of every possible wedding decision. (You won’t get them all, of course, but if you all contribute the top decisions on your minds, you’ll at least have a good shot at covering the basics.) Include the big things, like wedding date, officiant(s), venue, guest list, and theme. No detail is too small, though: if you feel strongly about the ribbon detailing on the flower girl’s basket, by all means, include that too.
The point of this list is to provide a basis for assigning responsibility and creative control to the person or people who care most about each item.
Get ready to compromise. There will almost certainly be some items everyone wants to control. If you and your fiancé want blue and white wedding colors while your sister and her fiancé have their hearts set on pink and white, both of you may have to grit your teeth and smile about a wedding with blue, pink, and white tablecloths. It may help to remind yourself that the details of a wedding are less important than the overall meaning of sharing your pivotal life moment with your nearest and dearest–and that includes the other couple getting married that day!
There isn’t just one way to plan a double wedding ceremony. The only hard and fast rule is to watch the time since your gathered guests do have to sit quietly through two wedding ceremonies in a row. Traditionally (and especially with siblings), the eldest bride has her ceremony first, but if you want to have your ceremonies simultaneously, you may.
Simultaneous ceremonies are easiest if both couples follow the same religious tradition and want the same ceremony style. Speak with your officiant about ways to merge your ceremonies (perhaps saying your vows one after another, then listening to the officiant’s speech together) that will still highlight the uniqueness of each couple.
Worried about too many bridesmaids and groomsmen? Keep your bridal party to a manageable size by choosing only one or two special friends each. In the case of siblings, there are often family members who are appropriate choices for both bridal parties. Some couples decide to be in each other’s bridal parties, with the bride of one wedding serving as maid of honor for the other and the grooms serving as each other’s best men.
Since many of your invitees won’t be familiar with attending double weddings, it’s up to you to communicate your expectations. The top question on most guests’ minds will be whether they need to bring two gifts, especially if they’re only close to one couple. Spread the etiquette by word of mouth: only bring a gift for the couple(s) you know well.
When planning ceremony seating, forget separating your guests into the “bride’s side” and the “groom’s side.” With four sets of guests present, it’s easier to just provide enough seating and let people choose their own spots. (The same goes for the reception!)
Making Your Part Special
Even though you’re sharing your wedding day with another couple because you treasure their presence in your lives, it’s not wrong to want a bit of your own spotlight too. Give some thought to how you’ll stand out and make your half of the celebration special.
The wedding cake is a perfect symbol of the two distinct couples because it can be cut into two halves. Ask your baker about doing a “half and half” cake with two flavors and two colors of icing. Maybe your sister’s half of the cake is decorated with roses while your half is more punk rock; both halves are sure to be delicious.
Wedding music is another place where you can let your uniqueness shine through. For the “first dance” song, both couples can hit the dance floor at the same time. But the song of one couple’s choosing changes halfway through to become a song for the second couple. Ask your DJ about meshing your top two songs–even if they’re of radically different styles. You can even coordinate some dance moves to surprise your guests as the music unexpectedly changes.
Of course, you don’t have to worry too much about the details of making sure your half of the celebration stands out. It will stand out because it’s you and your fiancé tying the knot, and all of your friends and family are there to celebrate it with you. The other couple getting married will enjoy their own spotlight–but it won’t dim yours one bit. Besides, the very fact that you chose a double wedding is so unique that you’re sure to stand out in your guests’ memories for years and years to come.