In high school, summer meant beach days, beach days, sleeping till noon, and more beach days. In college it was 3 glorious months of no classes, re-connecting with high school friends, and getting to read books that weren’t assigned to me. In this new post-college life I’m learning to navigate, summer seems to mean one thing: weddings.
And that’s a plural weddingS – with a capital ‘S’. I was invited to 7 this summer. Seven. Sadly, I could only make it to 5 of them (flights are expensive, Nor Cal is far!). But 5 weddings in 3 short months is enough, let me assure you.
5 weddings, 0 wedding dates. That was the gist of my summer. Before you start to feel bad for me, for all those weddings I had to suffer through alone, and for the embarrassment I must have gone through showing up without a plus one…. let me be clear: I think society tries to convince us that we have to hate being single – and that the absolute worst thing in the history of ever is going to a wedding without a date (there’s a reason why there are so many movies and TV show storylines centered around people finding / bribing / renting last minute wedding dates, so as to not undergo the horror of showing up alone). And I think society is wrong on both accounts.
I don’t get why I’m not allowed to attend a wedding solo when it’s perfectly okay for me show up to a friend’s birthday party alone or drive to a housewarming party by myself. It’s okay to celebrate friends – even though I’m single – in some contexts, but celebrating marriage?? Without a date?! Impossible. It seems similar to the illogical reasoning of people who bemoan their singleness on Valentine’s Day – you’re single every other day of the year, but this 24 hours is so much more difficult?? Really?
I’m here as living proof that you can survive wedding season all by yourself. Whether you have the ability to hang with your BFFs as pseudo dates (which I totally suggest, they’re great dance partners) or you brave a wedding completely by yourself (not for the faint of heart, but this lil introvert managed to survive!), you’ll make it through. I’ve learned you simply need to be able to embrace the awkwardness…. but if you’re currently single in the 21st century, I have faith you already have learned to embrace the awkwardness in life (everyone trying to set you up? Random encounters with cute strangers? First dates?! Awwwwwwkward). At a celebration of two becoming one, there’s plenty of awkwardness for someone who’s very much just one. Don’t be scared, just be ready…
Be Ready For Laughably Awkward Moments (…that you might have to laugh off alone)
That one wedding where I was told, “Ohh they put all the singles at the same table! Maybe you’ll meet someone.” And then was seated at a table of all couples. Cool. On the other spectrum, that one wedding when I was at a table of all men. Literally, all males and one very uncomfortable Krysti. Slow dances, “turn to your partner” games, and marriage advice… all awkward-in-the-making situations for us singles. Be ready for it. Roll with it. This day’s not about you, anyway.
Be Ready For Your Singleness to Come Up Again and Again and Again
From your friends who point out each cute groomsman to you, or the people at your table who pointedly ask “So you’re alone tonight?” – the fact that you’re single is going to come up throughout the evening. A lot, typically. You aren’t a person at a wedding, you’re a SINGLE person at a wedding! Sometimes this makes fun awkward situations (see above). Sometimes it’s just incredibly annoying. Take it in stride. Laugh it off. Go eat more cake.
- At weddings full of singles, as a single person you’re supposed to “mingle”. AKA the newlyweds are hoping some sort of romance is birthed at their wedding, so they get bragging rights for the rest of forever. I was emailed a singles list this summer, the week of the wedding, so we would know ahead of time who is on the market (…and be able to internet stalk them accordingly). Nothing like being prepared.
- At weddings full of couples, as a single person you’re the single person. AKA as the token single, you get the fun jobs of getting stuck talking with someone’s crazy aunt (no date to save you) or get hit on by the drunk groomsman all night. Sorry, buddy, when I asked you about your very vague job description, responding with “I’m trying to make it sound glamorous so I can seduce you and sh**” is not helping.
Be Ready to Get to Do Whatever You Want
Want to dance the night away? Want to leave right after dinner? Want two pieces of that delicious cake?? You’re allowed to do whatever you want, because you don’t have to worry about another person all evening. You can have fun without wondering if they’re having fun. You can make a fool of yourself on the dance floor (usually my go to, especially when Kesha comes on), and not worry if they’re embarrassed. You can leave at whatever time you want and not be nervous if they really wanted to go, or were doing it just for your sake. There’s so much freedom! And at weddings – which typically are really fun or really …interesting, but rarely in the middle – freedom is a great thing to have.
*also, you avoid those hey-we-were-just-at-a-wedding, weddings-are-so-great, are-we-ever-going-to-have-a-wedding, uhhhhh?!?!? couple conversations on the drive home that are just a joy. Can I get an amen?
I love weddings. I went to 5, after all. I’m not anti-marriage, anti-relationships, or anti-love. Also, I get it: If you don’t like being single, if you really, really don’t want to be single, it’s probably hard to be at an event that is dedicated to a couple promising forever to each other. As a single person, it’s natural to sit there (or stand up there, next to your best friends) and think, “When is it my turn?” “When do I get this?” “Where is my happily ever after?”
It’s perfectly okay to be at a wedding and want to have one of your own one day. It’s okay to attend a wedding and want to be there with a date. What isn’t okay is to think you have less worth without a ring on your finger, to think your life has less meaning because you didn’t come with a plus one, to think you can’t be happy right now – sans a spouse. It’s not okay to give into fear, living in the scarcity mindset, or the-grass-is-always-greener mentality simply because you don’t have a date to your friend’s wedding.
Weddings are celebrations – the best kind of celebration. There’s good food and dancing and (hopefully) great wine and lots of laughter and you dress up all fancy to say to your friends, “Hey! Today’s a big deal! You’re a big deal. We’re celebrating you!” I was invited to celebrate two dear friends’ marriage, where I wasn’t going to know anyone else. So many people were surprised I was actually going to go. (Luckily, I ended up knowing two people. Score!) I got a lot of, “Wow, that’s really nice of you”s and “So sweet of you to still go, I hope they appreciate that”s. To me, it didn’t cross my mind to miss it – two people who mean so much to me were promising forever to each other, and I got the chance to be there to witness it! To celebrate them! What a special moment. I had to miss too many of those moments when I was in Malawi, so you bet I’m going to go to as many as I possibly can. With or without a date. Why does that have anything to do with me celebrating my friends’ commitment to each other?
I love that the church and Christ are often compared to a groom and His bride, that Heaven will be the biggest celebration of love – a wedding feast that we can’t possibly imagine. So, if you have the chance, celebrate with your friends on their big day. And, if necessary, invite them into mourning this season of singleness, mourning unmet expectations for this stage of your life. Community is called to celebrate together; community is called to mourn together. Community is called to vulnerability, to hard conversations, and to living life together. Community is not called to only show up when it’s easy, to only attend if they have a date to make them more comfortable. Life is hard and messy and beautiful and everything in-between – let’s not fight that, let’s live it together.