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.
I first became aware of the common complaint in a neighborhood Spanish class a few years ago. Two women in their early 30s were talking, in stilted Spanish, about the dreaded wedding season. Both were already married — in my late 30s at the time, I was not — and their summers were filled with travel to third-tier cities, dress-buying, gift-giving. According to them, it was exhausting and expensive business that apparently you weren’t allowed to say “no” to.
I am now 45, still not married, and most of my friends have also never walked down the aisle. The only weddings I have attended in my entire adult life were my sister’s two ceremonies — one at a justice of the peace in an industrial London suburb and the other on the coast of Wales.
I would kill to be invited to a wedding.
I could use an excuse to buy a frivolous outfit, even if I had to rigidly adhere to the bride’s whims and color scheme. I love wedding cake — or at least I think I would. I imagine it being like a grocery store sheet cake, white and fluffy, broken up with alternating lines of raspberry and lemon jam, cemented by a thick layer of too-sweet buttercream.
I want to get drunk on vodka cranberries served in Mason jars, dance to Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer” — and make out sloppily with a guest I would probably avoid in my daily life, maybe an electronic music DJ or a product manager at a start-up, likely one and the same person.
My fantasy doesn’t involve an exotic destination wedding. I actually was invited to one in Bali a little over a decade ago by a new boss, but I didn’t think she genuinely expected or wanted any of her subordinates to make that expensive 22-hour journey and show up to wish her well.
No, I would like to be invited to a wedding in, say, Bangor, Maine, or Milwaukee or Albuquerque — towns I wouldn’t have much of a reason to visit otherwise. I love scouting out regional specialties almost as much as I love driving, something I don’t do while living in New York City, so I envision using my hypothetical friend’s wedding as an excuse for a road trip and a chance to track down lobster rolls, fish fries, green chile burgers and local beers to go with all of these. It would be a welcome respite from my usual routine — at least for a weekend.
Of course, the ceremony is suspiciously absent from my dream scenario, because I don’t care much about the union of two humans who want to spend the rest of their lives together. I just want to go to an elaborate theme party. Don’t worry, I would give the newlyweds a thoughtful gift. I’m as generous as I am self-absorbed.
My long-distance-boyfriend of a year-and-a-half and I have discussed marriage. He’s done it twice and is in no hurry to mesh his non-marriage-material finances for a third time. (Potentially being a first-time bride over 40 fills me with dread, but that’s my own issue and for another time.) When I tried examining my feelings on the matter, a big celebration with family and friends, one day to have everything just the way I want it, excited me more than the quotidian realities of marriage.
I’m not embarrassed to have thought it out, because I am a planner by nature. The components would involve an emerald green lace dress; a Cartier panthère ring with emerald eyes; a whole roast pig, burnished, crackly skin, Filipino-style (no, I am not Filipina); a multitiered cake, starting deep green on the bottom and ending up sea foam on the top in a dramatic ombre, the interior pale green chiffon, flavored and naturally dyed with pandan, the vanilla-scented leaf common in Southeast Asia.
“You just want a party,” my boyfriend says. That’s an oversimplification, though he’s not wrong.
So, please invite me to your weddings before my cake-and-frills-deprived-self does something stupid. Like those women you read about in glossy magazines who hit middle-age and throw themselves some blowout fest in Martha’s Vineyard, complete with caterers and prop stylists. Or, you know, get engaged at 45.