''I've been married twice. Here's why my second wedding was the complete opposite of my first''

No white dress, no 200-strong guest list and no man walking her down the aisle.

By Rebecca Sullivan
Here at Now To Love we love to celebrate those incredible milestones that sometimes arrive a little later in life.
Finding a great love isn't easy and for many women, that connection is made years after their first marriage ends.
When doing things the second time around, the beauty of hindsight means women often want their second walk down the aisle to look very different from their first.
So to kick off our wonderful Second Weddings series, meet modern bride Michelle Stephenson, who decided her second nuptials were going to be the "polar opposite" of her first.
If you'd like to us to feature your wedding on Now To Love, email rsullivan@bauer-media.com.au
I've actually been married twice and both ceremonies were the polar opposites of each other. I was 24 when I first got married and my late 30s the second time around. I sometimes joke that the first wedding is the practice round.
The first was a large ceremony with 200 people, the white dress, the whole thing.
The second ceremony was with just 55 people in the Byron Bay hinterland with a non-white dress.
With my first marriage, I was marrying an Eastern European. It was a massive wedding. We had about 200 people on the guest list and legitimately I knew about 10 of them. The whole thing was run by my Eastern European mother-in-law. I had the big white dress, I had the hair extensions, I had it all.
It was such a lovely wedding, but I don't remember it being about me, so much as it being about everyone else.
There were traditions that we had to go through. People had to pay to dance with me and we got the money. People would pin money on my wedding dress.
To be honest, I was fine, because I was younger and for me I didn't have a sense of what I wanted. I was happy for someone else to do it, as long as I got to choose my dress.
Michelle wearing her princess-style wedding dress at age 24. (Image: Supplied)
Just one of the many hilarious (and odd) traditions Michelle went through at her first wedding. (Image: Supplied)
But years later with my second wedding, I knew I wanted it to be completely different.
[Australian fashion designer] Collette Dinnigan was closing her business and I went to her Paddington store literally the day she was closing down and my wedding dress was one of her archive pieces.
It was the first dress I tried on and it was this taupey, mushroomy colour, a really pretty off-the-shoulder dress with diamantes on it. I got such a good price for it. I can wear that dress again and I have, which I love. I originally wanted to have a red wedding dress, but this is what I landed on.
By then, my husband and I had a child together but he hadn't even proposed yet when we started organising the wedding. We'd actually found a venue and booked everything, but he hadn't actually proposed. So then it became the joke about not if we were getting married, but when he was going to propose.
We organised the whole thing and he proposed two days before the ceremony.
It was perfect. He bought the ring and he got it made and this was the whole thing. He did all of that on his own. I had said we can wait to get married until we can get a ring we can afford. As soon as I saw the ring, it encapsulated me so perfectly. I knew this is definitely the man I was meant to marry.
He proposed on our favourite beach in Byron Bay at sunset. It was amazing and we got married two days later with all of our friends.
Michelle and her husband Ethan just moments after saying "I Do!" (Image: Supplied)
Michell knew she didn't want to wear white, or be walked down the aisle. (Image: Supplied)
The second time around we kept it really intimate with 55 people. There was only first tier people, so close friends and family only. No extended family.
I even had one aunt saying "We'd like to come for the ceremony" and I had to say "Sorry, the ceremony is part of the day".
We were getting married on a property and it was so intimate and special. I got to chat to every single person and have a drink with everyone.
It felt like a celebration of us, more than a very formal wedding. It was just a lot of fun and I still remember to this day how it was just a great wedding.
We had hip hop playing and I walked down the aisle to the acoustic version of No Diggity [by Backstreet, featuring Dr Dre] and I walked myself down the aisle. I find the whole giving away thing antiquated.
The couple sharing a sweet moment together on the dance floor. (Image: Supplied)
The pair got married in Byron Bay. (Image: Supplied)
My first wedding was in a hall, one of those big old school halls with a five course, sit-down meal and this was a cocktail event with fish and chips in buckets and burgers. On the dance floor we were handing out bottles of tequila.
It was under the stars, the dance floor was outside. It was the complete opposite of the first wedding.
It more inclusive of the people in our community. We had friends DJ and friends sing.
The vibe for the second wedding was far more intimate, relaxed and fun. (Image: Supplied)
The wedding took place outside on a property. (Image: Supplied)
Guests patiently waiting for the bride to arrive. (Image: Supplied)
The adorable happy couple. (Image: Supplied)
If I had any advice for other brides, it would be to definitely just focus on making it about you. Don't feel pressure for it to be a certain thing.
WATCH BELOW: The most stunning celebrity wedding dresses. Story continues after video.
The other thing is to outsource. Include your guests in the day. I got a friend to help me with the flowers. Instead of going to the florist, we just went to the market and I got a friend who was an artist to write boards up.
My husband works in TV so on the day he hired a producer and paid her her day rate to be on site and she ran the whole event.
She took our phones off us and said 'You don't deal with anything'. That was awesome. And don't stress about the small stuff. Once you're there, that other stuff doesn't matter.
If you'd like to us to feature your wedding on Now To Love, email rsullivan@bauer-media.com.au

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