Ah, June – the month that signals the beginning of wedding season. By now, you may have one or two summer weddings already under your belt. Good job! You’ve made it this far; you deserve a pat on the back. Surviving wedding season as a single adult is an accomplishment.
Let’s start by reveling in Single Roots’ awesome selection of wedding season gifs. Did you click over for a few laughs? OK, good. Now that we’re in a more lighthearted mood, we can temporarily set aside the misery over not having a permanent “plus one,” connect over shared experiences as singles, and gain a few tips to implement before Labor Day rolls around and the Summer 2017 wedding season is complete.
Been There, Done That
To be honest, I’ve had all the feels (the good, the bad and the ugly) toward the 40 or so weddings I’ve attended solo in adulthood. My guess is that you’ve held a generous mix of emotions, as well. So, I’ll disclose my particular journey, and if your head nods “me too,” then I’ll consider us as fairly normal single human beings, in need of God’s grace and mercy, and doing the best we can in our circumstances. After all, few people have a correct response 100 percent of the time, right?
In my early twenties, my friends who dated seriously in college began to get married the summer after our graduation. I was truly happy and excited for them. I didn’t think I was missing out, because I had adventures of my own. My single life was fabulous! Marriage would happen “someday,” because there were plenty of proverbial fish in the sea.
In my mid- to late-twenties, I still enjoyed most weddings. The few tears I flicked away were because all brides are beaming and beautiful on their wedding day, and the weight and wonder of the vows gets me every time. Sure, it stung a bit when long-term crushes married, but I’d hold it together and have fun with my still-single friends, including checking out the cute single groomsmen.
In my early thirties, I fell apart. Though I was thriving in many other areas of life, I couldn’t handle weddings. I was emotionally drained from celebrating others’ romances when I could only produce unrequited love. I cried in the bathroom on two separate occasions. I felt left out and “less than” at reception tables and on the dance floor. I avoided the bouquet toss like the plague. Ultimately, I was frustrated that my obedience in singleness wasn’t rewarded with a husband…or even a date. It hurt deeply, and I was disappointed with God.
In my mid- to late-thirties, I’m in a healthier place. It’s not because my circumstances have changed. In fact, they haven’t. I’m still single and dateless this wedding season. However, I’ve learned a few basic tips that have helped me maintain a better attitude toward wedding season, so that I can both celebrate my friends on their “big day” and keep my mental health and attitude in check.
It’s OK to skip the reception. I love the wedding ceremony. I truly do. The harder experience for me is the awkward social interactions of receptions. So, unless I want to attend a particular reception, I’ve discovered that I’m perfectly happy to witness the moment that the two become one, drop off a gift and peace out.
It’s OK to make post-wedding plans. This is a recent breakthrough. At the first wedding I attended this season, I made plans to go on a walk with a close friend afterwards. It gave me an excuse to leave after I’d made an appearance, greeted the bride and groom, oohed and aahed over her dress and wedding details and connected with a few folks. As my friend and I were on our “walk and talk,” I unloaded some heavy feelings, for sure, but most of our time together was spent catching up on other aspects of life. It was an all-round great evening!
It’s OK to send a card or gift with an attendee. A young couple in my church got married right before Memorial Day. Although I care about them dearly, I didn’t have the time or energy to attend their out-of-town nuptials. So, I wrote out a thoughtful message in a card, bought a gift, and sent it off with a couple who was attending. Last week, I bumped into the newlyweds at Target, buying items for their new apartment. They appreciated the gesture, and thanked me for it. Win-win.
It’s OK to reply “no.” Even if your schedule is free, you can RSVP with your regrets. If you’d rather go hiking in the mountains with friends or stay home for Netflix and chill by yourself, that’s perfectly acceptable. After all, you’ve been invited, and that’s nice, but you are not obligated to attend. The choice is yours. Adulting is pretty great, isn’t it?
You are not alone if you have mixed feelings about wedding season. Do your best to celebrate — rejoicing with those who rejoice. If you’re feeling a bit down, find a friend to walk alongside you in your grief. Don’t forget that you have options in your level of attendance. Above all, remember that God sees you and knows your heart — including your desire for marriage and your desire to do singleness well in the meantime. Bring your feelings before Him and press on. You will survive this season.
What has been your experience in attending weddings solo? Have your attitudes and actions changed over the years? What tips would you add to my list?