You can tell summer is coming by the state of our refrigerator. Save the dates hang down the sides, smiling couples inviting us to be a part of their day. It is most definitely wedding season.
In my life, wedding season has brought with it a cocktail of conflicting emotions. Anyone else?
I’ve always been thrilled to the moon for my sweet friends and their new husbands. I’m happy to be surrounded by loved ones, and will take any excuse I can find to drink a glass of champagne and dance. But at the same time, mixed in with my happiness have been pangs of real, deep sadness.
Because the celebration of what someone has highlighted so clearly what I lacked.
If you’re single, newly single, or unsure of where your relationship might be headed, a wedding can make your heartache nearly unbearable. I get that. I’ve been there.
So knowing that most of us are wedding-bound this summer, I’ve put together a few of my favorite wedding survival tips for single gals.
I hope these tricks take some of the sting out of this season, and at the very least, I hope they remind you that you’re just not alone.
1. I give you full permission not to go
If you’re anything like me, you’re a total “Yes” person. If someone asks you to hang out, or invites you somewhere, it’s almost impossible for you to form the word “No” with your sweet people-pleasing mouth.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to go to every wedding you’re invited to.
Now, I’m totally not advocating for skipping weddings you actually need to go to, or for being an inconsiderate friend. What I am saying is that there are some weddings you don’t need to go to.
Here’s an example:
A few years ago I was invited to an ex boyfriend’s wedding. I swear to you, if I wasn’t actually already committed to something else that weekend, I would have totally gone. But here’s the thing: Nobody needs to go to their ex’s wedding.
I did NOT need to watch my ex boyfriend get married. Nobody needs that. And we don’t need to feel obligated to go to every wedding we’re invited to.
So if you open an invitation to a wedding that's particularly tender for some reason, send a nice gift to the bride and groom and RSVP “No.” You’re allowed.
2. Buddy up
Having planned a wedding, and knowing full well how unbelievably expensive everything is, I know that plus ones aren’t always an option. But when they are, take full advantage. If you’re given the option of bringing a date, bring a girlfriend, or a guy friend you feel totally comfortable with. Having a buddy makes everything easier, especially weddings.
If you don’t have the option of bringing a plus one, try to figure out ahead of time who might be there. Knowing you’ll have a group to hang out with will give you peace of mind as you’re gearing up to go, and will also make the whole thing a whole lot more fun.
3. Don’t drink too much
Aside from other reasons why drinking too much isn’t ever an awesome idea, it’s a particularly bad idea in this situation. Drinking lowers our inhibitions, and it exacerbates our emotions.
If you’re already feeling tender, lonely, and insecure about your relationship status, adding too much alcohol will just make it worse. (i.e. you may give an embarrassing toast, give the father of the bride the details of your last breakup, or kiss the groom's brother. None of which will make you feel better).
So if you’re at a wedding and your heart is feeling extra tender, don’t add heaps of alcohol to the situation. Trust me. It never helps like we think it will.
4. Remember that nobody is aware of how single you feel except for you
When you’re single and surrounded by couples, it’s easy to become hyper aware of just how single you are. If you’re like I was, it feels almost embarrassing. You want to make a lame joke, or apologize for being the 3rd, 5th, whatever-th wheel. But I promise you, nobody is thinking about it as much as you are. I’d bet you anything you’re the only one who even notices.
My best friend’s mom has the best life phrases, and she always says it this way. “Nobody is worried about what you look like in your jeans, because everyone is worried about what they look like in their jeans!” So let that knowledge free you.
5. All the single ladies… head to the bathroom
When it comes time for the bouquet toss, DJs and band leaders love to bust out their best Beyonce impression and invite all the single ladies to the floor. This has always felt totally humiliating to me, so I've made it a strict policy not to participate. My girlfriends and I had a signal. When that song came on, we'd make a bee line for the restroom. If you love the tradition, go ahead and participate. If it feels humiliating to you, that might be a perfect time to hit the ladies' room (or refresh that glass of champagne!).
6. Choose your thoughts carefully
In tender situations like a wedding, it's more than easy to let our thoughts run away with us. It’s easy to berate ourselves for messing up our last relationship, or allow ourselves to feel smaller and smaller as we compare ourselves to the perfect bride. It’s easy to doubt we’ll ever find someone who wants to marry us, or believe that there are no good guys left. But although every single one of these things is easy to believe when you're feeling tender at a wedding, not a single one of them is true.
So we have to choose our thoughts carefully. We have to pay attention and notice when tapes like that begin playing in our heads. When you find yourself going down that trail, stop yourself, and move your thoughts to a different place. Start thanking God for the people there to celebrate the bride and groom, or for the cake as you get another slice (no judgment here!).
Remember as you’re at the wedding that you can choose your thoughts. Stopping yourself from going too far down one of those dark trails will help immensely.
7. Remind yourself of what's true
In these moments, it can feel like God must play favorites. He must play favorites and somehow the bride did something right to get on his good side. But I can assure you, as I know you know, God does not play favorites.
God sees you. He sees you and He loves you just as much as He sees and loves the beautiful bride. He knows you inside and out, your deepest desires, your greatest hopes, and He has just as beautiful of a story written for you as He does for the bride today. Remind yourself of that as often as you need to.
8. Try to enjoy it!
When we’re going through tricky or particularly painful seasons of our lives, it’s tempting to want to put our heads down, grit our teeth, and just make it through. But I hope you don’t do that this summer.
Instead, I hope you make the absolute most of this beautiful season. I hope you drink a glass of champagne and hit the dance floor with your girlfriends. I hope you soak in the beauty of marriage and love and celebrate your loved ones well.
This, right now, today, is a beautiful season of your life, and I hope you choose to make the very most of it.
P.S. If you're a bridesmaid for a wedding, and have started to feel bitter or even a bit jealous, this blog post is for you.