Every year, I wait until the very end of wedding season to take down alllllllll the invitations from my fridge. My once cluttered fridge has some breathing room, my once over-used magnets are now free (every year I think I need to buy more magnets, every year I somehow make it work).
Every year I take my carry-on – which has permanently lived in the corner of my room for the summer, always in a state of unpacking or repacking – and gleefully stick it in the garage. It’s time for it to gather some dust; it’s time for me to get some rest.
And, every year, I write a blog post. It started the first summer I went to 5 weddings – which felt laughably ridiculous – and I was in this new, weird grove of writing about singleness on the internet. The next summer I found myself in the in the same exact place: 5 weddings, 0 dates. So I wrote one again. And again.
And forever? We’ll see…
Every year, I write about the cringe-worthy moments (getting seated with your ex, YIKES) and I write about the funny things that always seem to happen to me and I write about how tra la laa weddings alone aren’t so bad, tra la laa weddings while single can be fun, tra la laaaaaaaaa it’s fine, people. We’re fine.
Except that, this year was different.
This year, wedding season was hard.
I went camping on the way to a wedding. (Because two full-time-working, also-in-grad-school girls don’t have enough on their plates, right?)
I went through a break up the week of my best friend’s wedding. (0/10 – would not recommend)
A girlfriend and I got seated at a table of all men. At another I, alone, got seated at a table of strangers.
And I had to miss a close friend’s wedding.
I navigated some exes and some hard situations. I navigated officiating a ceremony(!). I navigated a whole lot this summer.
Maybe it wasn’t wedding season, per se, that was hard this year. It was just a hard summer. It’s just been a hard patch of life.
I normally sit here and write about my bloopers, write about the funny, ridiculous moments I find myself in. I normally write about how IT’S NOT HARD, okay? IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Weddings, alone, aren’t a big deal. Weddings, single, aren’t the end of the world. I still fully believe that.
And yet, I felt the pain a little more this year. I sat on the sideline during the dance party, catching my breath and taking a water break (aka waiting for some more Kesha) and I found myself reliving the break up conversation I had only 6 days earlier. It was a good call, it was a good break up (if that exists?) – but it felt like cruel timing on the universe’s part to have it so very close to my best friend’s wedding. It wasn’t a “you messed up” type of ending or “I hate you forever” kind of deal – it was a “hey, us together isn’t working…”, a “this is good, but it’s not great”, a mutual “welp, this sucks, but here we are”. I wasn’t broken hearted, at this wedding; I was just feeling oh-so-very single. I was just wondering if I’ll ever – truly, ever? – find someone who it will work with.
I packed up my best friend’s last minute items and I drove her to her first look and I saw her marry someone who is beyond wonderful and loves her so well and brings out the best in her. And I loved getting to witness that – I loved getting a front row seat to their love story, to their special day. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But doing so while single? It’s a little bittersweet. It’s a little gee-that’s-nice, it-might-be-nice-in-my-life-too.
And at another wedding, I was feeling the weight of the past. Going into it came with a lot of baggage. Some of the sweetest memories, some of my all time favorite people – and then some hard ones, as well. I got to stand up front over the couple, share what they meant to me, bless their marriage in front of the community that had traveled so far to gather together on that day. It was so special and so unique and so them. It was an honor to be there and an honor to be a part of it. And there were also moments where I held my breath and plastered on a smile and did my best to just get through the day. Get through the night. Smile and small talk and suck it up.
And then there was a wedding I had to miss. A wedding I got pictures texted to me of, a wedding I would have played a role in, a wedding I had to say no to because life has a funny sense of timing. A wedding that, the day of, killed me to not be there. A wedding I will forever miss. A wedding of a friend so special that, when I told her the unfortunate news, responded with “it’s only one day in a lifetime of friendship.” Okaaaay. More people like that, please, when it comes to weddings. More people like her in the world, amen.
So, life wasn’t easy this summer. Weddings weren’t easy. They weren’t ha ha ha, here I am, single as can be and looooving it! But also, my singleness wasn’t the thing that made them hard. There were 50 factors this summer, all coming together, that made my life a bit stressful. Singleness was one of them. But I’m not naive enough to think that had I been in a relationship, had I brought a plus one to any of these, my life would have been easier. Life is just hard, sometimes. (As camping taught me, you have to put up with the snakes to get the free beer).You don’t get to control that. You don’t get to control the timing.
Weddings are a celebration of love and commitment – but the best ones are also a celebration of community. Of two communities, coming together. Of the community that cared for and watched over and journeyed with this couple. Of the community that will continue to love them and be there for them and live life alongside them. And that’s what I’m reminded of, time and time again, when I find myself solo at a wedding: this day isn’t solely about romantic love. This celebration isn’t for couples only. This is about community, this is about the best things in life – and I’m invited to it.
My best friend got married and I was going through a break up, and we met each other in the middle. And that was hard and unfortunate and not my favorite – but it was also beautiful. I was so sad but so happy – and both were okay. Life isn’t either / or – it’s both. It’s all of the above. It’s holding everything in tension, making room for all the things. Allowing your season to look so different than a friend’s season – but entering in, regardless.
Community comes together to celebrate and mourn, to cherish and let go, to do it all. It doesn’t matter your particular season in life, it doesn’t matter what’s going on: community does it together. I sat at my best friend’s wedding in the midst of a break up – because it was still something to celebrate. I sat on my phone thousands of miles away from a friend’s wedding, praying for them – because sometimes you can’t be there in presence but you can be in spirit. I showed up to an uncomfortable situation for the sake of two people I love – because community calls you into the mess. We don’t get to pick our seasons of life, but we get to decide if we embrace community during them. And I will forever keep showing up for mine.