As you can tell from the excited office conversations, "special wedding issue" magazine covers, and humblebragging Facebook posts all around you, we're at the beginning of "wedding season" — an annual rite of passage where twentysomethings are asked to spend six months of their lives devoting most of their free time and all of their disposable income to presenting gifts of upmarket cookware to people who are in love with each other. But what if you're a twentysomething who hasn't been invited to any weddings this summer? What does it feel like to be left out of wedding season entirely?
At 32, I am perhaps out of the peak wedding season attendee demographic. But even in my twenties, I was never invited to many weddings. This would play out the same way each year — I would begin wedding season relieved that I had dodged a bullet. I was broke, lazy, and already prone to making anyone who invited me to an open bar live to regret it — what business did I have at a wedding? But as the summer creeped on, I would begin to have doubts. Why didn't anyone want me at their wedding? Why were none of my close friends getting married? What was wrong with me? What was wrong with us? Should I get married, just so we'd all have an excuse to complain about the high price of ugly chiffon dresses, like normal women in our twenties? Why am I always at the epicenter of a matrimonial dead zone? Does everything I touch turn to Forever Alone?
Though jury remains out on what is wrong with me specifically, here's the definitive list of emotions you go through when you don't get invited to any weddings during wedding season.
Everyone Else Is: Jumping on social media to either brag about their own wedding, complain about planning their own wedding, complain about how many weddings they have to attend this year, or complain about some strangers' weddings that they saw on the Internet.
You Are: Realizing that this year, you are not going to be invited to any weddings. Not even one. There are no destination weddings in your future, no mountain-top weddings where you have to climb a picturesque-but-terrifying walkway to get there, no weddings where you are asked to memorize the words to a hit mid-'90s pop song so that the happy couple may shoot a viral video ("fingers crossed for the front page of Reddit!" reads the invite). No save-the-date magnets with photos of the loving couple staring dreamily into each other's eyes hang from your fridge. Relief washes over you in an awesome wave.
Everyone Else Is: Buying plane tickets to out-of-town weddings; buying KitchenAid mixers for couples who definitely do not actually bake (but asked for one on their registry anyway); lamenting how wedding season is draining their bank accounts; buying bridesmaid dresses in shades like "burnt teal," "royal brown" and "infinite sadness" (it's kind of a medium-blue jewel tone, it'll bring out the blood vessels in your eyeballs really beautifully).
You Are: Buying whatever it is you usually spend your money on (Candy? Medical school? Credit card interest on a pair of Juicy Couture sweatpants that you bought in 2003, because the sales associate said they made you kinda look like J-Lo?). Because you do not have any weddings to attend. You get together with your handful of friends who have also not been invited to any weddings this year, and toast your good luck. To not knowing any people who love each other enough to embark on a lifetime of spiritual and financial commitment, ladies!
Everyone Else Is: Starting to actually attend all these weddings they were invited to and post fun-seeming pictures; composing gushy posts about how moving the event was on social media; telling you in person about how they cried watching their childhood best friend read the vows she wrote herself.
You Are: Starting to get a little offended. Seriously, no one is going to invite you to their wedding? No distant relative? No co-worker who has overestimated the depth of your casual work friendship? No random girl that you haven't spoken to since Girl Scout camp, but who still remembers you fondly? All your other friends who didn't have any weddings to go to this summer ended up getting invited to shotgun weddings at the last second! Do you not have a single friend who is in love and also very sloppy with contraception?? I mean, come on!
Is there something wrong with you? You're great at weddings! You can do the Macarena, and you got ordained as a minister online when you were drunk in college. So really, if you think about it, you are the wedding. How are all these people having weddings without you?
Everyone Else Is: Unable to hang out with you, because they are all going to the wedding of someone outside your immediate social circle every single weekend this month.
You Are: Fine. Just fine. I guess you're not hanging out with any other human beings this month, huh? Whatever. I don't care. I have a new friend named "They Have All 14 Seasons of CSI On Hulu Now," and she doesn't let the rituals of young adulthood get in the way of making time for me. She prioritizes what's important for her, and doesn't miss my Flag Day party because she has to go to some dumb wedding in Cape Cod for some cousin she doesn't even like!
Everyone Else Is: Attending their ninth wedding of the summer; learning a lot about getting beer stains out of voile; complaining to you about how hard it is to be in your late 20s/ early 30s, with just all of these weddings, it's like you don't even get a second for yourself, you know?
You Are: Nodding along while others talk, as if you, too, are burnt out from attending sooooooo many weddings this summer. As if you are not holding, deep inside you, the terrible secret that no one wants you at their weddings. After too many cocktails one night, you admit this fact to a work friend, who promptly tells you that she has been to SO many weddings this summer and they are SUCH a pain and you are SO lucky that no one likes you enough to ask you to be a bridesmaid.
Are you really, truly lucky? What is the meaning of luck? What is the meaning of adulthood, for that matter? You take your ninth cocktail with you out on the back patio of the bar while you go and ponder this. You ponder for a second, then think you have to puke, then don't puke, then sing the theme song from Jem. "Being left out of everyone's wedding party is truly outrageous/ Truly, truly, truly outrageous!" Oh god, is THIS why you don't get invited to any weddings?
Everyone Is: Very earnestly telling you that you're lucky that you didn't have to go to any weddings this summer; freaking out because they spent all their money on wedding gifts; planning a "staycation" that consists primarily of eating hot dogs while sitting on their fire escape all weekend, because they used up all their vacation days attending out-of-town weddings.
You Are: Finally chill again about not having been invited to any weddings. You're not a social outcast! You're just either very lucky, or very immature. Or hey, why can't you be both?!
Everyone Is: Relieved that wedding season is ending; going to their final weddings of the year; repurposing their bridesmaid dresses into car buffing cloths.
You Are: Starting to feel like this summer's wedding season drama is just a faint memory. What were you so upset about? Despite all the media chatter about them as big symbolic events, weddings aren't Valentine's Day, or other public spectacles specifically designed to hurt you and make you obsess over every life choice you've ever made. They're just big ol' parties. And who cares if you do or don't get invited to some random parties this summer? You were probably happier watching CSI.