According to the statistics, when there are 120 people at a wedding, being the only single person should be highly unlikely. I was the only single person at the wedding.
In February this year the Office of National Statistics released data suggesting that 51% of people in the UK are single. Surprised? I certainly was. When you delve down into these statistics they are horribly flawed.
‘Single’ includes everyone over the age of 16 who is not married.
‘Single‘ even includes those who have been declaring themselves ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook for a decade.
‘Single’ even includes those who have been cohabiting with their partners for twenty years and have three teenage children together.
‘Single’ even includes those who are engaged to be married but who are taking the time to plan an extraordinarily spectacular wedding – like the one I went to last weekend.
To my mind, these people are NOT single, they are very much COUPLED. Someone at the Office of National Statistics is clearly very conservative with a small ‘c’ and is totally out of touch with modern day society.
I assume that if you delve further into the statistics:
- you will probably find that in the 30 – 40 age bracket there are fewer single people – none of my friends, fortunately, have started getting divorced yet!;
- you will probably find that in white middle class society there are fewer single people – whilst I hate the label, I cannot deny that this was a very white, middle class, wedding;
- you will probably find that, linked to the above, where there are higher levels of academic achievement, there are fewer single people.
I am not being ageist, or classist, or racist, or intellectualist or any other ‘ist’ you may want to throw at me upon reading this post, I just think it is true, and I am confident that if the conservative with a small ‘c’ person at the Office of National Statistics asked the right questions of the data, my assumptions would be proven correct.
This is a long winded way of trying to work out why, when, applying ONS logic, I should have been 1 of 60 single people at the wedding, I was in fact, the only one. La seule. La unica. The ONLY SINGLE PERSON AT THE WEDDING.
You probably think I am making this up, but there really were no other single people. I checked with the bride beforehand, and I suspect she put me on her table because she felt guilty about it.
This wedding was the marriage of a close work friend. Although we have been through a lot together over the last few years, a work friend can never as close as a school friend or a university friend. Your school and university years are when life-long friendships are formed. There was a definite Cambridge University clique (yep, white middle class – tick, higher levels of academic achievement – tick) at this wedding and as lovely as they all are (and they really are, not a hint of sarcasm), the comfort blanket of being part of the clique was not there for me. I am not part of the Cambridge University contingent.
This was one of the most spectacular weddings I have ever been to and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but it wasn’t the easiest for me to socialise in.
One immediately thinks that the main drawback of being the only single person at the wedding is that there is no chance of future romance. You are not going to meet the man/woman of your dreams at this wedding and live the fairy tale that the bride and groom are living, or at least that you hope that they are living. This is true, but so what? A lifetime can pass without you meeting the man/woman of your dreams. What’s another day?
I found that the feeling of self-consciousness was the biggest challenge for me as the only single person at the wedding. Here are a few survival tips.
Dress well. Make sure you wear something that makes you feel really good. You are probably going to feel quite self-conscious at various points during the reception in particular. Don’t let your discomfort be around your clothing. I wore a dress that I really liked and felt comfortable in. Unfortunately, it had a flowing skirt which, when caught in the wind, did a Marylin Monroe. Not ideal given that the reception was on the top of a windy cliff. Dress well mission not quite accomplished for me I am afraid.
Drink. Not so much that you make a fool of yourself (see my don’ts below), but drink is a social lubricant and you are going to need to make conversation with people who you don’t know very well. You are going to need some cocktail lubrication, some champagne lubrication, some red wine with dinner lubrication, and maybe even some shots of tequila or jaeger bomb lubrication. I didn’t indulge in the tequila and the jagermeister because I don’t trip the light fantastic regularly these days, so shots probably would have been too much for me. Just don’t make a fool of yourself and please please please don’t be sick! I wasn’t sick. Drinking mission accomplished.
Dance. Just because you’re the single person at the wedding doesn’t mean you’re banned from the dance floor. You are probably thinking: “well, duh, of course it doesn’t” but when it’s a couple’s song and everyone on the dance floor is locked to someone else, stepping onto the dance floor can be quite intimidating. Some songs really are love songs, maybe avoid them, but when a song can easily be danced to as a group, go and dance next to a couple who you vaguely know and they will unlock arms and dance with you. Try it. I guarantee it. Everyone has been single at some point you know!
Have real conversations. There will be times when you find yourself without a partner during the slow ones. But being the only single person at a wedding during a slow dance (sorry, I am a 1980’s child and that’s what we called them) doesn’t mean that you will be the only person not on the dance floor. Inevitably someone will have bought new and really uncomfortable shoes which they can’t bear to keep on. They will be sitting watching the dancing. Go and talk to them. Inevitably there will be a group of people standing, chatting about the weather. Yep, okay it might be a bit dull, but you do have the option of going to talk to them rather than standing on your lonesome or going to the toilet (again!) when you don’t actually need to pee.
Torture yourself. Don’t feel you need to stay talking to the really dull but excitable woman and her excruciatingly middle of the road husband who take pity you because you are single but who have nothing more interesting to talk about than how she was never so stressed in her life because she ‘nearly missed her flight’. This happened. She barely drew breath whilst recounting this story (hence my lack of punctuation). I nearly slit my wrists. I haven’t drunk a glass of wine so quickly since I was a teenager playing drinking games in a caravan in Newquay. When she offered for me to join her and her husband for a drive the next morning I politely declined. I have much better things to do, like cut my toenails or something. In truth, it was a night away from my baby. Although I did miss him, I did take the opportunity to lie in until 10:30am. 10:30am! Big grin. It was heaven, even with a fuzzy head.
Be scared of taking a time out. You don’t need to be talking to someone all of the time. Use the opportunity to get a drink, to surveil the scene and figure out who you actually want to speak to. The toilet and the bar always come in handy when you are trying to escape the above mentioned dull couple. If it is a weekend affair (as my wedding was) go for a walk, go and have a coffee somewhere, or just read a book. You are not obligated to spend time in group activities that don’t involve the bride or groom.
Make a big deal of it. Ok, so being the only single person at a wedding can feel a bit awkward but it is only a few hours and you invariably get a great three course meal and if you are lucky some free booze. What’s not to like?
Don’t find an excuse not to go. This is what another friend of mine, who didn’t go to the wedding, advised. This would have been really lame and I don’t believe that a true friend would miss their friend’s marriage because they felt awkward being the only single person at the wedding. No real friend would do that.
I was delighted to be invited to this wedding. She is a great friend and I am absolutely thrilled that she has found the person who she wants to spend the rest of her life with. She’s done better than me! And I couldn’t be more happy for her. I know that she will also be absolutely thrilled to come to my wedding if I find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.
The only single person at the wedding or not, I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for the world.