Editor’s Note: Lily of the valley always bloom in my garden at the beginning of June. Their tiny, delicate, white flowers like little bells, remind me of brides and weddings. Even their light, fresh, floral fragrance is a classic bridal scent. But not everyone is happy when June rolls around and the wedding invitations start to roll in. If you’re young and single, the financial stress of being “always a bridesmaid” can be significant, not to mention the emotional stress if you’re single and looking, and wishing it was you getting married, instead of on the sidelines holding the bride’s bouquet, or as a guest.
But not everyone is “wishin and hopin.” Advice Sister writer Katie Rice shares her perspective about being a single and savvy woman in this article: Weddings: Plus One is the Loneliest Number…Or Is It?
Wondering about weddings? The Advice Sisters encourage you to speak up about your thoughts, ask questions, comment on Katie’s article. Also check out our Summer special events features: the one dress that works for just about everyone for all special events, an outfit tailor made for curvy women,romantic and multi-tasking jewelry, and the one accessory you can’t do without — Alison Blackman Dunham, Editor in Chief
Plus One is the Loneliest Number…Or Is It?
By Katie Rice
My friends are starting to get married. And it’s terrifying. If you’re reading this from the “other side” aka safely past the age when everyone makes the big jump into couple-hood, then try to remember how it felt when you were in your early twenties and people starting tying the knot.
Before this year, the only weddings I had been to were family weddings where my significantly older cousins got married, I danced in patent leather shoes, and tried a sip of champagne for the first time. Now my peers were doing this? It seemed so strange.
I, for the record, am still single. Until I received the first wedding invitation, I was completely happy with my status. In my mind, we—meaning my friends and I—were all still at the very beginning of our professional and adult personal lives, and being single was what we were meant to be. However, when I got the phone call from a friend I grew up with that he was getting married to his college sweetheart and that I would be getting the fancy, lacey invitation in my mailbox soon, something shifted. If he was getting married, should I be thinking about marriage? And if I should be thinking about marriage, did that mean that I should be thinking about finding a serious boyfriend, which meant I should stop being so casual about casually dating people I met here and there in New York?
It was a crazy tailspin, and it lasted for the months between receiving the invitation, and attending the wedding.
I can’t really explain why a shift in someone else’s life caused such an examination of my own life. Maybe it was some latent desire to “keep up with the Joneses” that I hadn’t realized I possessed. Or, maybe I was looking for something to worry about. Who knows? All I know is that their wedding was on my mind almost all the time. I began to feel sorry for myself for being single. I began feeling like I was pathetic for not having a life partner — for not even having anyone in the running for being a life partner. This only made the “situation” (as I had begun to think of my single status), worse, because being pathetic is never attractive to potential boyfriends or even friends.
After two months of this worrying about my singlehood and trying to fill the plus one on my invitation, I decided, at the last minute, to go by myself. It would only be more depressing to bring some date that would just be more awkward.
At the wedding, I realized that I was so glad I went alone, because as I was there watching my friend walk up the aisle, somber in his suit to wait for his bride, this man, my friend who I had known through all of the awkward teen years and the silly college years and the growing pains of the first few adult years, I began to feel something different. Instead of focusing on my own singlehood and how pathetic that was, I started appreciating the love my friend had found. I was glad I hadn’t brought a date to the wedding. He wouldn’t have known anyone and I would have been distracted from just enjoying this very important, special moment, this celebration of love.
When I took the pressure off of myself and my own singlehood, I enjoyed the ceremony and the party afterwards. I was smiling and candid when people asked about how I was doing. I got to talk about me . Something shifted.
Now back home, when I start to feel anxious as more friends tell me they are getting married or thinking about it, I try to think back to this first wedding. Not only did I get through it, but I thoroughly enjoyed and cherished the experience. I am, I realized, not behind on some life goal (because it’s not a race). and it turns out that plus one is not the loneliest number. It simply means you have good friends inviting you to celebrate their love — because they love you.
Now I know, most importantly, that I am not lacking in love, but surrounded by it.