An hour into my bridal shower, I found myself locked in my bathroom, sobbing. Let’s just say that the party didn’t go exactly as planned.
I’d spent weeks planning for this afternoon. There was a spread of food in my kitchen, including vegan and gluten-free options to accommodate all my friends’ diets. I’d cooked for three days leading up to the event. I was looking forward to spending an afternoon with my best friends, but only two – two – of them showed up.
I was crushed.
It’s always been one of my biggest fears that people didn’t like me. I’d never had the kind of close friendships it seemed like other people had. I don’t have a group of friends, really. I had acquaintances, but I didn’t really have many people that I could call up in the middle of the night. I’d never really had the group of girlfriends that comes over after you’ve been dumped with ice cream and wine and movies.
This had a lot to do with the fact that, until about a year before my engagement, I’d been an active alcoholic. It’s hard to establish real, lasting friendships when your life is run by booze. I was surrounding myself with people who drank the way I did. Looking back, they were fair-weather friends. If activities didn’t involve going to the bar or having drinks, they likely wouldn’t show up for them. I also think I hadn’t revealed to anyone how much that day meant to me. Maybe I couldn’t express it – in a way, it’s because I wasn’t a good friend to myself.
As those fair-weather friends flocked to me to drink, the solid, dependable people I’d known and relied on had long since fallen. They didn’t want to be near me while my drinking was progressing. I was a flake, I was a drunk, and I was a drama queen, three things that most people don’t want to deal with in their lives. This left me with very few close friends – and getting sober effectively purged the people that remained. I’m not sure why I expected them all to show up.
Still, I still wanted to have a day with the women in my life to celebrate my impending nuptials. Since many friends had asked if I was planning to have a bachelorette party, I decided it would be nice to have a day where my friends could come over and celebrate with me.
I planned the bridal party myself and 20 women RSVP’d to say they’d be there. I figured we could hang out and watch movies, eat food, laugh, and make the decorations for the wedding itself. I was making tassels for our chuppah and the place cards for the tables, and thought it would be nice to have the extra hands to help. Crafting and eating and laughing sounded like the perfect party to me.
Except on the day of the party, the texts started rolling in. One by one, almost everyone canceled or just completely failed to show up. I tried my best to put on a happy face for the two women who did make the time to celebrate with me, but it was hard to hide the disappointment when the food spread meant for 20 was displayed in my kitchen.
That night, my sadness turned to complete anger. My fiancé tried to cheer me up by helping with the tassel construction. It was a sweet gesture, but he turned out to be terrible at the delicate work required to complete the task.
I cried myself to sleep that night.
So, our wedding was an intentionally small one. We ended up with about 30 people on the guest list, and it was almost exclusively family. We chose to get married at our favorite restaurant, so the only decorations we’d need to worry about were place cards, centerpieces, and the chuppah for the ceremony. Everything was simple, and everything felt like us.
On my wedding day, the friend I’d had since kindergarten had flown in from the United Kingdom to be there. She really showed up for me, and so did my family. I got to walk down the aisle with my parents to Queen’s “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and then I married the man of my dreams.
It felt like no one was missing, and everything was perfect.
Today, I have the kinds of relationships with other women that I’ve always wanted, and that is absolutely due, in large part, to my sobriety. In the years since my doomed bridal shower, I’ve managed to find a number of friends that love me and do show up for me when I need them. If I had a bridal shower today, I know people would be there for me.
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Our small, intimate wedding with no bridal party and no pre-wedding celebration was perfect for us. And now I can tell the story of my very own “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” situation.