I had heard of the fated 'year of many weddings' that nearly every late-twenties/early-thirties human is rumoured to experience. From friends regaling their multiple weekends trotting the globe celebrating their friend's nuptials, to coupled-up pals having their complete summer booked by the December of the previous year, the folklore of multiple-marriage years was simply that—fables and folklore and something mystical—until 2015 gently turned into 2016 and my mailbox received more than a handful of invites to parties for people making their declarations of l-o-v-e.
Sitting here on the other side, it's been interesting to reflect on what this year was about. Who knew that being the most active wedding guest could give you a little life lesson in the process?
DISCLAIMER: While I have nothing to justify and nothing to validate in simply sharing the experience of what the year of nuptials was like, know these two things:
- I LOVE love. I believe in marriage. I loved every wedding I attended and have a touch of loving regret for each one I missed. Full stop.
- This is NOT a 'single girl complaining about always being the guest/a bridesmaid, never a bride' rant, or a complaint about this year's volume of festivities. So, for anyone about to check out because it's 'another one of those blog posts', I challenge you to check in and check this little ditty out.
So how did I survive and what did I learn? Read on, oh curious one.
THE COMMITMENTS: with weddings come a string of events to celebrate the engagement, the building of a home of the couple, and the pending official coupled (aka: future non-single) status of the to-be bride and groom. With weekends filling up with welcome cocktails, wedding days and good bye brunches, AND the other thing called life that happened around all these celebrations this year, a quick gut check into how much I could commit to event wise told me 'stick to the guts of it: just go for the wedding'. So, instead of attending every shower and every stagette I was generously invited to, I stuck to the nuptials. Missed out on a couple nights of throwing back some shooters with the girls yet also skipped the (since turning 30) three day hangover that would result.
THE SAYING OF THE NOT-EASY NO: in the first year I was ever invited to a friend's wedding, I got two invites -- for the exact same day of the year. This multi-nup spin around the sun, there was specific wedding day overlap and celebrations just days apart, yet separated by a province and a few states... and the roadtrip that connected Vancouver and Sun Valley, Idaho. Again, the act of saying no wasn't my favourite experience; but knowing how my want to participate in experiences with people I love (read: my manageable yet extreme FOMO) often overpowers my ability to choose what really works for my life, the gut needed to be consulted so I could make choices that allowed me to really BE at the events I was at. The 'no, thank you' to some events was also a stand for a non-rushed and uber enjoyable season.
THE OUTFITS: ah, fashun. With only one bridesmaid role (thus one outfit I didn't have to really curate on my own) in the books, I was left with the burning question: BUT WHAT WILL I WEAR??? Knowing that with weddings come wedding photographers, I got in my head about repeating outfits...for the hottest of short minutes. While I picked up a new dress (then promptly shrunk it because #drycleaningonly) for some formal February 'I Dos', I confidently and shamelessly acknowledged that A) I did not have the funds to be snagging new duds for every celebration this year and B) I had the ultimate outfit hanging in my closet: THE ONESIE. A navy, full length, widelegged romper that could be dressed up or tamed a touch for more west-coast casual weddings, the romper offers a pajama-like quality and a level of dance floor companionship unlike any article of clothing ever. So, i repeated that little number in the Pipe Shop in North Vancouver, in Victoria on the most stunning of farms, in Sun Valley, Idaho, on Galiano Island, and in Squamish. I peppered in some other outfits across other events, but in a nutshell: long live the onesie.
THE GIFTING: girl has affinity for making letters + multiple chalkboard signage needed around wedding time = gifting. One of my favourite experiences this year was giving the gift of letters to my pals. From welcome chalkboards to menus, seating charts to 'choose a seat, not a side' signs, spending a touch more time with the brides and grooms in my life, and having the privilege of contributing something to their special day not only made attending all the nuptials more accessible by my bank account, but gave me more insight into my friends, their plans for their big day and their experience in the whole process around getting married. Simply the best.
LEARNING IN THE NAME OF LOVE
Ever in the process of inquiry, and once I got back from the 9th wedding of the 9 this year, I stopped to look at the year. I revelled in how much love I have the privilege to be surrounded by. I considered how old, deep, connected friends were so generous as to invite me to their celebrations though time and distance has sometimes gotten the best of our being in constant contact. I saw more family members this year than I've seen in at least the 5 years prior. So much goodness, in so many ways.
Then I took a peek at myself in the mix of the multi-nups, and I'm patting myself on the back for how I made these nine weddings happen. Less from a 'wow I really planned the heck out of the logistics to get me to all those parties' (although I WILL congratulate myself for the amount of the PNW I saw through my Mazda windows) and moreso because while I've had a loose 'yes' and a non-existent 'no' for many years, I'm finally slowing down and tuning into what I want to experience, and how I want the whole picture of life to look.
I'm considering my schedule, thinking about personal downtime and whitespace, being more mindful around finances, and making space for my own experience of love. PLUS, and whether it's by exposure to all the vows I heard with their bold declarations of love, or time and perspective or simply dropping into myself more, I've accessed a whole other level of confidence in stating what I'm about, what I offer, who I am, why I'm here, and what I want out of this wild thing called life. And yes, that includes a wedding when it's my time.
So here's to all the couples I had the privilege of sharing time with this year, and to all the ones I missed out on sharing your big day with. Your hearts, your love, your passion and the memories (and stories) of all your really, really great dance moves have made a bigger impact on this still-figuring-it-out 30 year old than you'll ever know.