This afternoon I have the honor of watching two of my friends get married and then partying with dozens of people that I have know for years. I am super excited and have been looking forward to this for weeks if not months. But just a few years ago attending a wedding was something that I dreaded, a big scary event that had major cost and emotional consequences that I would actually try to avoid.
I never attended weddings as a child, mostly because I couldn’t be trusted to stay still and be quiet. I do distinctly remember being put out that I couldn’t attend my uncle’s wedding when I was about 9 because come on I was 9 years old and that is basically a grown up, and I shouldn’t have been stuck at home with my baby cousins. When I got to and appropriate age I had no interest in attending weddings and actually missed a few family weddings because at the time I valued schoolwork and my shitty college jobs more than celebrating with my family. But by the end of college the first wave of people who were a few years older or those who had been together since high school started getting married and I was obligated to attend. I didn’t really enjoy going to weddings, yes it was a chance for open bar, and to get together with my friends, but it was expensive and a hassle and it required dressing up, and it wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but I sucked it up and went with it. It is sad to say that I think I didn’t have a good time at any of these weddings because I was very self conscious about everything from how well I knew the bride and groom to how I felt while wearing a suit, which left me a bit jaded.
A few years out of college the second wave of my friends started getting married, and this time it was most of the people I was closest to. During the summer of 2011 I think that 2/3rds of my close friends either got engaged or bought a house, all while I was less than 6 months removed from living on my friend’s floor. I was in such a terrible place emotionally that I was actually upset about these weddings, and boy were there a lot of them. I was invited to 7 weddings in an 6 week span during the fall of 2012, and I just felt overwhelmed. I was so uptight about everything that I remember telling a bride to be that I hoped they didn’t want me in the wedding party because I really didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting a tux 2 weeks in a row. THAT was how self centered and stupid I was, I took what was supposed to be the best day of her life and tried to make it about me. I suppose that weddings made me feel uncomfortable because I don’t see on in my near future. It is so easy to look at parts of a wedding and say “I want that at my wedding” or “totally not doing that when I get married” and as someone who doesn’t like to put the cart before the horse I find that I have to fight back against those specific planning impulses and pull myself back to earth. During that time in my life I felt very lonely and instead of being excited at the prospect of celebrating with the people that I care about I was instead focusing on the prospect of being alone.
I eventually made it through the wedding bonanza and once I got over having to burn vacation for weddings 3 weeks in a row and having to eat great food and drink at an open bar and hang out with my closest friends for 3 weeks in a row it turns out that I actually had a good time. Shocking right? Now that the wedding blitz is over and I have settled into having 2-3 weddings a year I actually feel excited about attending weddings. I have a plan laid out where I have my suit ready, I have a few ladies who always make appropriate dates, I know what I am going to get for a present and how to get it wrapped and ready to go. The last one was a bit of a stroke of genus from my mother. I get everyone a nice wooden or ceramic serving bowl from a place in Burlington. It might not be on their registry and it might not be something that they use on a regular basis, but it is a very functional piece that looks nice on display, and something that is used especially on holidays. When they do take it off the shelf they tend to remember that they got it as a wedding present and they think of me. I get sent a lot of salad pictures.
I am excited for weddings now because of the positive changes that it means for my friends’ futures. As important as it is to get together and lift our glasses and sing along to all the songs that we know and act like crazy people, the most important thing is that two people I care about are now forever bound together for better or for worse. I am glad that I get the chance to spend today sharing in that moment, and frankly nothing could keep me from attending.