Wedding season doesn’t have to be this way. For starters, I think we need to agree as a society that a couple’s wedding day should be about their marital status, not their guests’. It doesn’t make sense that as a single woman, I’m expected to elbow my way towards an airborne bouquet, or get a flower and a prayer for me to find a husband, as a roomful of happy, cake-eating married couples look on. It’s hurtful and humiliating to feel that, simply because I’m not in a relationship, somehow that means I have to be free entertainment at the reception.
I also think we need to re-focus our priorities as a faith community. Between weddings and church services, I’ve easily heard over 100 sermons about marriage. And yet, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7 that it’s preferable to be single because single people can devote more time and energy to spreading the gospel. For unmarried members of the body, it seems like the church has glanced over that teaching, choosing instead to camp out in Ephesians 5 and similar passages that address marriage. I have yet to hear a sermon about how valuable and important singleness is; no church leader has encouraged me in my singleness. Instead, they have pushed me to “get out there” and date more. I think of Paul and wonder, Are you reading the same Bible I am? (The same goes for other areas of the church that can, often inadvertently, leave singles as an afterthought, like when the only prayer group for women is for moms.)
At the same time, it’s important for single people to acknowledge the negative emotions we experience around weddings, rather than trying to deny them. When we feel down, we need to choose to take those emotions to God instead of directing them at the bride and groom. If witnessing a wedding makes you think that God gives good gifts to everyone else but you, or if it makes you feel neglected, or if it reminds you of how weary you are from going it alone, take those things and lay them at God’s feet. Use the experience as an opportunity to tell God—and yourself—the truth about how you’re struggling. Use it as an opportunity to practice contentment.
We can also remember the point of attending a wedding: to witness and celebrate the union of two people we know and love. This couple has requested your presence to share and multiply their joy that day. Be gracious and selfless and kind by having a positive attitude, and by rejoicing with those who rejoice. It’s gracious for brides to consider how single women may be feeling at their ceremonies, but the focus of the day should be for them to celebrate their weddings, not to console their single friends. I don’t go to wedding receptions to be singled out, given leftover flowers, and prayed for.