A lot of my friends have been to a lot of weddings this summer. I say “this summer” like it’s not October now, but I’ve learned that wedding season doesn’t end until you can see your breath in the air. Apparently, 32 is the perfect age to get married, because it seems like everyone I’ve heard of who is tying the knot this year is 32 exactly. As friends tend to correlate by age group, this means a lot of people are getting married ALL OF A SUDDEN like, before they expire.
I’m not good enough friends with anyone who was/is getting married to score an invite (except for one, which I’ll get to), but a lot of folks I know have run a non-stop gauntlet of wedding after wedding after wedding, and it’s not even over yet. A lot of these people have grown unusually anxious about finding a husband. (Surprise: these are exclusively hetero women I’m talking about.) Looking around, I see many of the sane, mature, and intelligent weirdos closest to me feeling feelings straight out of the sexist rom coms they (we) usually mock.
I initially thought this was most likely the result not of the weddings themselves, but some deep-seated confidence issues the weddings were merely serving to bring up. Then I went to a wedding. The wedding of my boyfriend’s brother. His younger brother.
You guys, I felt it. For the first time, I felt it.
Right away, I got super weepy. I’ve met the bride and groom approximately three times, but during their exchange of vows, I wept like a baby. Yes, I am an emotional person, and yes, love is beautiful. And yes, they seem like lovely people who deserve good things. But I’m way too selfish to have purely been crying out of happiness for them. Later on, my dude (who was the best man) was talking to someone who brought up the idea that all three brothers could be another brother’s best man if they planned it right, and he made a joke about how he won’t be ready to get married until 2040. AND THEN I WENT IN THE BATHROOM AND CRIED. Not a lot, but enough to have to fix my makeup. Then I came back and said, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW OLD MY EGGS ARE GOING TO BE IN 2040?” and laughed a little too loud at my own joke. (Which was not really a joke.)
Initially, this made me think I should write one of those classic contrarian pieces about how, despite being a budding anarcha-feminist skeptical of all institutions, but especially the ones that used to enshrine women’s status as men’s property, I really do want to get married, because I have ovaries! But that rang hollow. The truth is, once the wedding was over, I went back to normal. (As most of my friends seem to be doing as well.) I talked about it a little with my boyfriend, and my opinion on marriage is the same as it was before: it’s something that might make sense to do down the road, but I view it mainly in the abstract, many-years-from-now future. (His is the same.) I like my life the way it is–nay, I love it–and will continue this way until I find a compelling reason to change things up. In fact, I’m so happy with the way things are that I’m mildly afraid to change anything ever, from my job to my hair color, but I realize that’s a problem I’m lucky to have. And as for my old ass eggs, I definitely don’t want children now, and I don’t know if I ever will. So what gives?
I don’t pretend to know completely, but here’s what I’ve come up with as to why you and me and everyone we know gets wedding fever. (As well as some thoughts on what to do about it.)
Location, location, location
What better way to make a single, New York-dwelling, 32-year-old woman question everything she’s built than by taking her out of New York and making her participate in a ceremony she heretofore had little stake in OVER AND OVER while simultaneously draining her funds until she feels like a broke college kid again? (A broke college kid who has to plan bridal showers.) Some down time at home with your friends will remind you who you are and that you are not a failure at life just because you haven’t met and married your person yet.
My family doesn’t do this, thank God, but I know a lot of people whose family members just don’t understand how a person in their 20s (or even 30s!) could not be ready to settle down and have kids yet. Your parents had three kids by the time they were your age! I know this is easier said than done, but try to explain to them you’re fine the way you are. If that doesn’t work, burst out crying. Works for some!
Admiration incorrectly interpreted as jealousy
The wedding I went to was totally beautiful. I’m not just talking about the little blue flowers in hanging mason jars and the cucumber water (although those things were perfect), but the whole idea of it. The vows were beautiful, the bride and groom were beautiful, and it was amazing to see two people very sure of something and very in love in what felt like a permanent way. It’s only natural to get covetous when you see someone in possession of something good. But guess what? That shit ain’t yours, and if you try to will it to be so, the results will not be beautiful.
The good news, however, is that you probably have a lot of good things of your own, so you don’t need to try to be someone else. I’ve got the whole rest of my life to be married; for now, I’m going to enjoy being young and fun and in a pleasant relationship with someone I love. Someone I do not yet have to argue with about money, groceries, child rearing, etc. Live it up!
My commie boyfriend thinks it’s a fool’s errand to try to create an impenetrable wall between “self” and “society,” and he’s probably (definitely) right. But that doesn’t mean you should just go along with whatever society tells you to do. It just means you shouldn’t feel bad for having some feelings inside of you that are most likely socially received. From the time we’re little girls, we are bombarded with the message that getting married is the be all and end all of a woman’s existence. That’s not necessarily going to go away just because you realize in the thinking part of your brain that that’s absurd.
Love is awesome
I’ve always said I don’t particularly want to “get married” so much as I want to find someone I love enough to marry. On that note, weddings remind single people they are single, and maybe a little bit lonely. Please refer to my last relationship-related article for a pep talk.
Giant parties are awesome
Some people, like Kim Kardashian, like the idea of getting married more than the idea of being married. Some people admire the idea of making promises, but that’s not enough; you have to be 100% prepared to keep those promises for them to mean anything. (Personally, I think actions are more meaningful than any kind of verbal agreement.) Yet others just want to throw a giant party, which I don’t think I need to tell you is a terrible reason to get married. The good news is you don’t need to get married to throw a giant party. I love throwing parties, not because of the meticulous planning involved (which is a chore for me), but because of the actual party part. Art, music, friends, memories, joy! Sure, my parties are not so much about me as they are about cults, monsters, and weird multimedia creations, but these things are an important part of my subconscious, so maybe they are about me, after all. (Related: You are all invited to my annual Halloween jam!)
In the end, I don’t have an all-encompassing explanation as to why we get wedding fever, but I think this is a start, at least for people who resemble the people I know. Feel free to add your own thoughts down below.