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Typically when we talk about weddings, we talk about taking maybe a little too much advantage of an open bar, making ridiculous speeches that make family members cringe, dancing like idiots even when we have no rhythm, and passing out in your khakis with your shoes on. We memorialize the token photos with sparklers and photo booths, poke fun at the now mandatory “wedding hashtag,” and even declare after spending another chunk of our paychecks at Williams-Sonoma that we’re just going to be checking “Must Regretfully Decline” on the official, monogrammed invitation from here on out.
The side of weddings we don’t typically banter about is the side when it’s a wedding of someone you once knew so well, but know you won’t be receiving and invitation for come whatever weekend has been decided is “theirs.” Maybe it’s a friend who you lost contact with due to miles and minutes you didn’t spare, maybe it’s a co-worker who used to be your saving grace come 12:25 every day who relocated and the time difference was too much.
Or maybe, it’s your ex.
One minute you’ll be scrolling around on Facebook, ready to see what pyramid scheme your favorite train wreck from high school is peddling these days, and there’s that photo that will come out of nowhere. It’s either a from above phone shot with two names tagged, one perfectly manicured hand splayed to display a 1.5 karat square cute, captioned, “I said yes!”, or a professional engagement shot in coordinating plaid in some random field with a Hollywood foot pop kiss, because you somehow missed the actual proposal. You’ll instantly forget about the Herbalife or whatever it is that whats-her-name is blowing up your newsfeed with, and be totally overwhelmed. Even if just for a second.
It’s not that you’re jealous, or wish you were the new fiancée posting your own ring photos. It’s…different. It’s a mixture of nostalgia, loneliness, and wanting to reach out, but not really knowing what to say. Do you say congratulations or will that feel like a, “Super glad you found somebody after I broke your heart” asshole move? What are all of your mutual friends going to say to you? Are they going to worry about making you upset if they go to the wedding?
How are you supposed to feel when someone you once loved, but no longer loves you, loves somebody else?
It’s almost an unspoken milestone of growing up in the digital age. You graduate, find/pick a career, figure out your finances, make a home, and then watch a “what could have been” moment happen over social media. You’ll inevitably see pictures of a white dress, a first look. You’ll see the recreation of the Bridesmaids cover and an obligatory jump shot. But on either side of the dashing groom or the blushing bride, there you won’t be. A person you once knew inside and out will be photographed beaming and smiling on the best day of their life, and you’ll be observing it from behind a screen.
But that’s what happens. It just is what it is. There really isn’t a textbook “This is how to deal with this” because there are so many factors that determine your reaction case by case. The reality of the situation, however, is that no matter how you feel about it, your feelings will not change theirs. You can be sad, or disappointed, or even just kind of shocked. But regardless of what is bubbling underneath the surface that ring isn’t on your finger. And it isn’t going away.
You can even write about it online, but the ring is still there. Glittering away with the caption, “Ready to change my last name.”
All you really can do is swallow your pride, paint on a smile, and say congratulations to the happy couple.
Congratulations, guys. You deserve to be so, so happy. And, honestly, I’m happy for you. .