My fiancé and I are in a weird stage of our lives right now. We moved across the country last year so I could continue my schooling, and haven’t really made any good friends in the area. We’ve outgrown or drifted apart from a lot of our high school and college friends, but haven’t yet made our “adult” friends. And that’s okay—it’s a thing that happens, the situation will improve when we have more time and are settled down somewhere, I know it’s just circumstances, etc. We have each other and we are mostly happy.
However, we are three months out from our wedding, and I feel incredibly lonely. My sister is probably my best friend, and I could really use her support and enthusiasm. Unfortunately she is going through a really difficult period of her life and has no energy for me. Plus, weddings aren’t really her thing. So I can’t even talk to her, and I feel like I am doing this all by myself.
We have no bridal party. There will be no bachelorette parties or bridal showers. We didn’t have an engagement party. I have no friends I feel comfortable dishing about wedding planning with, and none of them have ever asked for details, although a few texted to say they’re excited after receiving their save-the-dates. I’m not close to any of my extended family members. We’ll only have about thirty or forty guests, and although I’m happy with our intimate wedding, the truth is there’s no one else to invite anyway.
I am realizing that we are missing out on all the special little events and traditions that go along with planning a wedding and celebrating our marriage. This is our one and only chance to experience that, and we’ll never get it. I read posts on APW about how a wedding is a community event, and how your friends and family come together to help you pull it off and how special and meaningful that is. That’s not my experience at all. I am doing everything on my own, and I feel like no one even cares.
We are also a same-sex couple, so sometimes the paranoia eats at me and I feel like we are having this experience because it is not a “real” wedding, so it is not as important to people. In some cases that may be true but in other cases I doubt anything would be different if I were marrying a man. But it still hurts me since I already generally feel like my relationship isn’t valued and like I am excluded from all the traditions and narratives surrounding weddings and marriages.
I don’t want this to ruin my wedding day. I don’t want to spend time or energy resenting my friends and family members and feeling alone and hurt. Ideally everyone would come together and I would feel special, loved and supported, but I can’t make that happen. So how do I cope? How do I stop feeling like this whole wedding is a big waste of time and money when no one seems to care and it’s not even legally recognized in the first place?
Your letter hit home for me. It’s really, really hard to face the major life changes without feeling supported by people around you, and I wonder if it hasn’t happened to all of us at least once. I felt really lonely when no one visited me in the days following giving birth. But, I’ve also been the jerk who mistakenly skipped a friend’s funeral for her father because I had an exam the next day (seriously, Self?). Sometimes the big stuff happens, and your community drops the ball. Other times, the big stuff happens before you’ve even met the folks who will go on to be your lasting support. It doesn’t always bear a reflection on you so much as it does on your loved ones being fallible people who, you know, make mistakes sometimes.
You’re partially right about one thing. Weddings are community events in a bunch of different ways. They’re a way to celebrate your marriage with the folks around you, a way to publicly make a statement to everyone about your marriage, and sometimes (but as you’ve found, not always) a way to involve your friends and family in the process of becoming married. But notice, in each of those three points, the main thrust is still marriage. Marriage (meaning that whole promise between two people thing) is the meat of it all, and the wedding is the extra stuff (I mean, just think about elopements). Whether or not your community chips in and supports you (or if you even have one) doesn’t invalidate your promise. It’s the marriage that gives meaning to the wedding, not the other way around. Continue reading Ask Team Practical: I Don’t Have a Community