Single in the Suburbs
by Lauralyn Avallone
My Ex-Friend's Wedding
Why I do's make some singles say I don't
Spring is in the air, summer is a few degrees higher away, and weddings are blooming everywhere. While brides are busily matching accessories with dresses and taste tasting multi-tiered cakes, some bridesmaids are kicking themselves with their freshly bought dyed heels, wishing they never agreed to be in their now ex-best friend's wedding party. They don't even want to go to the wedding at all.
The reasons why friendships go sour when fiances enter the picture vary as much as wedding dress styles. Friendships that cannot withstand the diamond's glare were most likely teetering on the edge of a break-up before anyone else walked into the picture. Here is a brief explanation of the stages a single friend may experience when her pal gets married:
When a friend gets engaged, aspects of the friendship change. Maybe she used to confide in you for hours on the phone about her soul searching, now she strictly confides in him. Or, it used to be girl's night out on Saturdays, now it's girls plus the fiance. Maybe she used to talk about work and have funny stories about bad dates, now she can't describe a day that goes by without referring to him. Or she used to be there when you needed her at any time, now she has her time spread thin between being there for her man, her family and friends. Often, in the balancing act for the freshly ring-clad, friends are the first to be dropped on the list of priorities.
Not to say this happens to everyone. There are some friends who can maintain a committed relationship and still commit quality time to their friends, though I don't know of too many. And I could understand why: being in love is dizzying, getting married is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime deal, and completing the family unit with little ones, well, let's face it, it's not just time consuming, it is your new life. Your transition in life from being whatever you were before - party girl, social butterfly, workaholic, the single - to being a Mrs., a Mommy, a bonafide grown-up. Gone is the single tendency to be selfish or spontaneous simply due to the nature of your routine, she is now responsible to someone other than just herself. This can cause a definite splinter in a weakened friendship if one friend is cued into the hottest happy hour and the other wants to coo over baby steps and diaper deals.
"I can't believe she's getting married before I am."
"I don't even have a date to bring to the wedding."
"Will it look bad to bring a girl friend?"
"I can't believe she's not going to be hanging out in the scene anymore."
"Who will I talk to about my dates now?"
"I can't believe she's not going to have her own place anymore."
"Will I be the only one without a date when she invites me to her dinner parties?"
"What will we have in common now?"
"Our friendship will never be the same; she will never be the same."
3. The Bridesmaid's Blues
So, you're asked to be a bridesmaid. Picturing the beautiful, glamorous, supportive bridesmaid's elegantly holding a romantic bouquet, you say, "sure! What are friends for?" Well, make sure it is your friend that you say yes to, because as most of us learn the hard way, being a bridesmaid isn't always a piece of cake (pun intended). It takes time and money. You need time to pick out a dress, unless one is picked out for you, in which case cross your fingers it's a friendly fashion for your body type. Then, you have to find shoes to match the dress, sometimes buying a pair and having them dyed a specific color is necessary. Strapless bras are a must have for most, and don't forget about hair and make-up. And, the parties: bridal shower, the bachelorette party, the pre-wedding party, and the rehearsal dinner. I'm going to risk sounding terribly tacky here, but prospective maids should know that being a major player in a wedding party run anywhere from $250 to $1,000. A worthwhile contribution to the happiness of an endearing friend, but a hefty price tag for a mere acquaintance.
Call of the While
As in, while you were living your life and I was living mine, I got engaged; dropped my friends and I now need people to be in my wedding party. Have you had one of these calls? Lord knows I have, and so have several of my friends. It never ceases to amaze me when wedding invitations from people I haven't spoken to since fifth grade are stuffed in my mailbox (do they hire PI's to hunt down your address?). One of my friends, let's call her Lily, is currently experiencing the ex-friend's wedding syndrome (EFWS - check the DSM, it's in there). The wedding is in June 2002, the friendship died sometime around 1998. Lily is stressed out over all the little details, and not having much of a relationship with the ex-friend bride just adds to her worries and causes resentment.
"She's not even my friend anymore," Lily sighed. "At the wedding party, all they talked about was bad invitations and things that go wrong; they made it seem like such a hassle, not at all fun, that it made me not want to get married. I would never go through all this trouble ever again. It's not worth it."
No doubt being the only single at a table of gushing girls who are gabbing on about Bride's magazine and comparing ring size and sparkle can be a harrowing ordeal. Don't expect to go to a wedding party and not be asked that dreaded question: so, are you seeing anyone? In singles speak, this could easily translate to so, what's wrong with you? Do you know that there are some of us singles who, cracking under pressure, actually resort to creating a fictitious boyfriend rather than admit we're alone? Singles do have fanciful imaginations.
What bothered me about Lily's comment was her disillusionment with what is supposed to be a fantasy-filled day of love and romance. Because of the particular party she went to, she now associates wedding days with as much enthusiasm as Tax Day: you fill out the paperwork, hope you don't make a mistake and get it over with by deadline. Also, saying she'd never go through the trouble again makes me worried: I always assumed she'd be my bridesmaid, if not Maid of Honor. It wouldn't feel right to not have her be right beside me on that day, just has she has been for other important days, saying, go for it! Plus, when you're as close as we are, the pre-wedding parties are really no different than all the birthdays, graduations and girls nights rolled up into one. It's just another thing to celebrate in your lives, together.
Before you say I do to being a bridesmaid, first consider how close the person is to you, how important your friendship is and whether you have the time to invest. Because there is nothing worse than saying I won't AFTER you've already said you would. Weddings should be exactly how the catering halls advertise them: special, dreamy, romantic, beautiful and FUN! I don't recall Villa Lombardi's, when offering to host the big event, ever saying: "for the most stressful, aggravating, depressing day of your life." If you foresee your ex-best friend's wedding having that effect on you, and your heart isn't really in it, then politely decline the invite. It's only fair to both of your happiness!
Top 5 Reasons Ex-Friends Go To Weddings
(I can't make this stuff up!)
1. Free food and booze
2. An opportunity to get all decked out
3. The possibility of hooking up with other singles
4. To gossip
5. Because there's nothing else to do and they want to check out the location
12 Reasons Why Being A Bridesmaid Is Priceless
(experience based on my old friend Lila O'Leary Guthridge's wedding)
1. Spending friend time with her before she was officially hitched
2. Watching her turn into a princess at the hair salon
3. Watching her smoke her last cigarette with a cocktail before she quit (she had been a smoker since high school)
4. Seeing her pre-wedding jitters as we prepared for the ceremony at her church
5. Calming her down after a spat with her sister, a fellow bridesmaid, who was extremely late
6. Buttoning up about eighty miniature buttons on the back of her dress because no one else could
7. Watching her mother and sisters help her secure her veil in place
8. Watching her father hug and kiss her before she walked down the aisle
9. Watching her say emotional vows to the man she loves (especially after knowing the heartache she experienced in the past)
10. Swing dancing with fellow bridesmaids
11. Catching up with her and her husband's family and friends
12. Talking about how much fun the wedding was the next morning, and meaning it