It’s unpopular, I think, to admit how much weddings mean to me. As a diehard romantic from a young age, there’s a lot I love about weddings as an aspiring bride — the chance to wear a beautiful one-of-a-kind gown, the attention bestowed upon me, the commitment expressed through vows, the promise of a lifetime of togetherness, the celebratory atmosphere of it all… it’s safe to say I’m obsessed.
And yet, several weddings I’ve attended in the past few years have left a sad taste in my mouth.
After one wedding in the summer several years ago, I drove to a parking lot and cried. At another wedding, I sequestered myself to a corner and moped. I felt so alone, surrounded by adoring couples and a celebration of love. I spent a third wedding mourning that my relationship with the bride wasn’t what it once was.
I’ve always struggled with jealousy. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve struggled with comparison, which has led to my feelings of jealousy. I’m constantly holding myself up against those around me, measuring us, and coming up short in my own estimation. Usually, I compare myself to my friends and family — my brother got more Facebook likes on his post; my best friend is more beautiful; a writer friend got a book deal before me. I’m looking for reasons to love myself and have fallen into the trap of comparison, except I always come up short.
As much as I’ve loved watching the couples celebrating their love during those three weddings, I couldn’t help but compare myself to them. I’m 28, and my list of “nevers” in the dating world stretches like a CVS receipt. Never been in a relationship. Never been on a second date. Never been kissed. Never held hands. On and on it goes. The only thing I have done is go on two first dates. Two whole dates! In 28 years!
And here I thought someday I’d be a bride!
It’s just too easy to feel like a fool, and it’s so easy to resent the people who are getting married while I’m not. When one of my family members married several years ago, I remember attending the wedding and feeling true joy for him and his bride. It was an honor to stand up at the front of the church with the wedding party. I loved the new dress I bought just for the occasion to celebrate with the happy couple and their guests.
After the ceremony and festivities ended, I took off in my five-inch heels and pretty new dress, got into my car, drove to Walmart, and cried. I cried because it dawned on me, at the time, that I was 20 and despite my strong desire to fall in love and have my own forever story, I had never been on a date. All my crushes had been unrequited. I was heartsick and devastated. The high of the celebration was wearing off, leaving nothing but sorrow.
It’s been eight years since that experience. Last summer I went to my best friend’s wedding – this time around I loved celebrating with her. I was emotional throughout the ceremony – it was beautiful, moving, and I was unspeakably elated for my friend. During the dinner, I managed to forget that I was there alone.
I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my friend’s wedding this way. I regret that I got so caught up in my own issues at the other weddings that I couldn’t enjoy the celebration right in front of me. Moving forward, I will try to revel in the love showcased in future weddings I attend and put to rest all thoughts of my own future.
Maybe someday I’ll have my own wedding; maybe I never will. But one fact I’m sure won’t change is that I’ll stay a little bit obsessed with the institution of a wedding.
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