A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me she was going as someone’s date to a wedding at the Pierre. Hearing this, I was surprised, as only weeks before, we’d been talking about how these days, considering the cost of such fêtes, wedding invitations seldom include guests. I suppose however, if you can afford to throw your party at the Pierre, you’ve got money growing on trees, so the numbers don’t really matter. But for us middle class folk, where there is a budget guiding our decisions, the guest list is always an issue. So for friends that are unattached, dates are most certainly out. I get it. I really do. And for the most part, I’m ok with it. Usually when I’m invited to a wedding, there’s a circle of friends I know will be there, so if I must go solo, it’s fine, because I won’t really be by myself. That said, seeing your name alone on the invite is a little tougher to swallow when you don’t know anyone but the bride and groom.
This past weekend, that was just the case. It was wedding #2 of five for me this summer, the only one where being single had me feeling a little unenthused. It’s not like it was a decade ago, when walking into a wedding reception was like walking into a speed-dating event—troops of single guys in every corner, to make eyes with and mingle with, to dance with, drink with and at the end of the night, maybe exchange numbers with. These days, all of them are married. Some are even pushing baby strollers around or wearing Baby Bjorns under their suit jackets. When you’re at a wedding, the lonely singleton amongst a roomful of couples, it can get awkward, especially when DJ spins a slow song. Let me tell you, it feels just like fifteen again.
So, a few weeks before the big day, I got an email from this bride-to-be, introducing me to her one other single girlfriend who’d be attending, thinking we might pair up, travel together, split a hotel room. “Kate, Andrea. Andrea, Kate.” We had actually met once before, at a party—a quick hello really. She seemed nice enough then. Maybe this was not such a bad idea after all. So I gave her a call, we settled on a plan, cut our costs for the weekend in half. Great. But as I headed out to meet her the morning of, I remembered, really, we were still strangers… Just like any blind date, our meeting could end up going either way. We could totally hit it off, or it could blow up in each of our faces.
My mother always tells me, it’s always best to expect nothing special. That way, if it turns out above and beyond, you’re pleasantly surprised. So, I went in expecting nothing. If we ended up hating each other’s guts, so what? It was one day. We would live.
Well, I made it through alive.
I’m sitting here, not yet a week later and I can’t stop looking at the pictures thinking about what a perfect time we had. I’ll admit it, being single, despite the old adage that you find it when you’re not looking, I always go into a wedding with the romantic idea that I’ll leave shouting from the rooftops, “I met someone!” I’ve never before imagined that that someone would be a new great girlfriend. But that’s kind of how it ended up.
From the minute we spotted one another hurrying through Grand Central, it was a match made in heaven. Like two peas from the same pod we were, rushing to find one another, apologizing, late, her having forgotten this, me having forgotten that, easily agreeing, no worries, we’d catch the next train. Sitting down, we split her Sunday Times, read a bit, chatted more. At the hotel we got dolled up, consulting one another on accessories and hairdos, while commiserating over parallel stories of dating in New York. At my realization that I’d forgotten my perfume, Kate said, like any good sister or friend would, “Use mine.” At the wedding, we danced and laughed. I practiced my British accent with her, a born Brit…taking the piss, she thought… but no, in adoration I told her. We even managed to find a pair of single guys to befriend.
I was so worried in anticipation of the day, of being by myself, that I didn’t even think of what fun it might be, to be there unattached. So I had a girl date. It was like going to homecoming stag with a bunch of friends. We could do as we pleased, no pressure, just fun. I’ll take that over sitting with an awkward real date any day.
So by the end of the weekend it was like Kate and I been friends for years. In spending all of a day and a half together, we sort of developed a friendship…in superspeed. Of course I would have loved to meet my dream guy there, but how could I be disappointed for having met a great new girlfriend? At 35, sure, it’s hard to go to weddings alone. But just as it’s hard to find that right person to spend the rest of my life with, it’s hard to meet the right woman to hike that bumpy road with. And when you find one, it is truly priceless.