The grandest wedding ever witnessed by mankind occurred when G‑d descended upon Mount Sinai to give the Torah. G‑d was the groom, and on that day He "married" His beloved nation. The Tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments served as the wedding contract. The Tablets given on that occasion were presented amidst a spectacular sound and light show and exciting pageantry. Forty days later they were shattered. The Second Tablets were presented unpretentiously and without fanfare, and withstood the test of time.

In our personal lives, we all hope and pray that our first marriage contract also be our last one. Sometimes, however, life's circumstances dictate otherwise. One of the lessons we can draw from the Sinai marriage is that in a situation where both spouses have experienced marriages which have been "broken," it is advisable to give subsequent attempts a more modest introduction.

The joy isn't any less the second time around; only more private and sereneThus, traditionally, the primary difference between first and subsequent weddings is the noticeable reduction in the pomp and festivities which accompany the marriage ceremony, as well as the reduced number of invited guests. This doesn't imply that the joy is any less the second time around; only that that the joy is more private and serene.

There are several other minor ritualistic differences between first and ensuing weddings. The following differences – some of which are law, others custom – only apply when both spouses had been previously married:

  • On the Shabbat before the wedding the groom receives an aliyah, but no sweets are thrown at him.
  • The bride doesn't wear a white gown.1
  • The badeken ceremony is omitted. A veil is placed over the bride's face before the chupah, but not by the groom.
  • The chupah is held indoors. The common custom is that children of the bride and groom do not attend the chupah ceremony (they may attend the reception following the ceremony)—possibly out of consideration for the emotional turmoil and conflict they may experience.2
  • The sheva brachot blessings are only recited beneath the chupah and after the wedding meal. The bride and groom, however, are required to rejoice and celebrate their marriage for the next three days.