Welcome to Wedding Guest Wednesday, an occasional feature in which Solo-ish explores the joys and woes of attending other people’s weddings. Because it’s not all about the happy couple — it’s a big day for guests as well.
Every year, usually coinciding with the blooming of the jacaranda trees, wedding invitations begin to arrive in my mailbox. The hand-lettered envelope is always addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Lane, despite the fact that it’s virtually guaranteed that I will be attending alone.
I’m not the typical single guest one finds at a wedding.
First of all, I’m married. Second, I actually prefer going alone. Judging by the plot lines of dozens of romantic comedies, one would assume that attending a wedding without a date is every woman’s worst nightmare. While I can understand the value of this as a story arc, I believe that attending a wedding solo is far superior to going with a date, even one to whom I’m married.
And it’s not because I’m in the throes of a divorce or married in name only; I’m happily hitched to a lovely man and have been for over a decade. However, this lovely man happens to run restaurants, which almost always precludes him from being my escort to weddings or any other event that falls on a weekend, holiday or any day other than a Monday.
For most people, scheduling a wedding on a weekend makes the most sense. But when your family’s livelihood depends on Saturday night’s revenues, you either learn to enjoy going solo or cede having a normal social life altogether.
I didn’t set out to become the type of woman who attends other people’s life events without a date, but growing up an only child was excellent preparation. From an early age, I learned how to enjoy my own company, and I never had a sibling to help dispel the awkwardness of new situations. My independence, at times a point of contention in my past relationships, has served me well in my role as a restaurant wife.
I also find it more pleasant to attend weddings alone. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of my husband — I do, tremendously — but after 10 years of marriage to the same person, it’s a treat to have uninterrupted “me time.” There’s a distinct pleasure in having a hotel room all to one’s self. I also appreciate not having to cut my own enjoyment of weddings short because my husband is bored or doesn’t like dancing the horah. I’m able to reminisce with old friends without feeling anxious that my spouse isn’t “in” on our personal jokes, and I can’t tell you how many interesting people I’ve befriended because I wasn’t stuck interacting solely with my date. As for the dreaded “singles table,” I’ve learned from experience that it’s by far the most entertaining place to sit if you’re interested in hearing juicy tidbits about the groom’s sordid past.
Going solo is not without its uncomfortable moments. I’ve yet to attend a wedding where I haven’t received a pitying look from the bride and groom, or a pointed question about my marital status from a well-meaning relative. I understand their curiosity: It’s unusual to find a married woman attending anything (especially a wedding) alone. I do find it interesting that going to an event without my spouse in tow almost always invites people’s doomsday scenarios — divorce, sickness, even death — rather than the assumption that I’ve made the choice to show up alone.
I always respond politely and remind whoever is inquiring that my spouse is working. But maybe I’m doing people a disservice by not being entirely truthful. Perhaps I should tell the bride and groom the real story: That I know they can’t believe it now, in the flush of newlywed bliss, when they only want to spend time together. But in a matter of years, they’ll tire of the constant togetherness. The shine of matrimony does wear off, and as your relationship grows and changes, you no longer have the need (or the desire) to do every single thing together.
One day, perhaps, when they, too, are saddled with a house, kids and a busy job, they’ll wish for alone time. That will be their lightbulb moment, when they’ll realize that I really did enjoy going to their wedding on my own — mainly because I went back to my hotel room and slept diagonally in a king-size bed without being interrupted by snoring. Now that’s what I call matrimonial bliss.