by Sidra Montgomery, Guest Contributor
This winter the wedding invitations kept rolling in, serving as another one of those dated reminders of an impending deployment.
“Yet another wedding you won’t be able to go to” I say to my husband.
We have a fridge full of smiley, happy, in-love pictures and invites reminding me that I’m going solo to every one of them. Last deployment, it was three weddings. This year, it’s four.
Even though I had plenty of military friends at my first solo wedding last year, I still felt like I was wearing a big neon sign “I’m ALONE, here without my husband.” My friends were grabbing Instagram-worthy pictures with their significant others, “okay, now do a kissing one! Awww, so cute!”
Coerced to join the picture bandwagon I decided to ask my friend to take a solo picture of me — might as well send my husband a picture of myself, I thought. As I stepped in front of the camera I decided to embrace the moment and confidently pose in my beautiful rental gown.
After the pictures turned out (surprisingly) well, I realized I had to embrace being stag. There was no other way to get through wedding season but to take advantage of having fun without obsessing over the fact that my partner-in-crime wasn’t here.
What I’m here to tell you is…don’t avoid weddings because your spouse is deployed, gone for training or otherwise can’t come. Make the most of it and get ready to rock these weddings!
As I’m gearing up for my second season of summer weddings, here are my tips for making the most of your stag status.
The Summer Of Going Stag: How MilSpouses Can Survive Wedding Season During Deployments
Wear Something You Feel Confident In. If you’re going to go and you’re going by yourself, you might as well look fabulous. Find a dress or an outfit that you feel really good in, I’m talking through the roof confidence. Even if you find yourself feeling self-conscious or out of place for being there without your significant other you will get a little confidence boost knowing you look damn good!
Be Comfortable With Third-Wheelin’ It. When you’re going stag, it is OK to third-wheel it with other couples you know.
At one of the weddings last summer I pretty much only knew one other person and her boyfriend. I practically clung to them for dear life during the arrival, seating for the ceremony and cocktail hour. I was pretty open about it and even made several jokes about being their third-wheel. Even though it might feel weird, it’s OK!
Make New Table Friends. Table talk. Happens every wedding. Everyone sitting at your table tries to introduce themselves across the ornately planned centerpieces and cutlery. I’m not always excited about these forced meeting situations (#introvert), however table mates can become crucial when you are going to a wedding stag. It’s an easy way to build quick “friends” who you can dance with or take a trip to check out the desserts.
Table friends are crucial to making you feel a little less lonely, especially if you don’t know very many people at a wedding.
Dancing Is A Universal Language. It’s not a wedding without dancing, right? Dancing is a great way to let loose and have fun at a wedding, even when you’re without your sweetheart. Find your friends or those table mates you met earlier and chop it up on the dance floor.
You can always infiltrate the “single girls/guys” dancing groups who are ready to have fun with whomever on the dance floor. Everyone appreciates someone who can dance and smile while doing so!
Use the dreaded slow/romantic songs as an opportunity to refill your drink, use the restroom, eat dessert or take a load off (especially if you’re wearing heels).
Don’t Be Afraid To Leave Early. If you’re “over” the wedding scene and ready to go back to your hotel room, don’t be afraid to leave early. It’s OK to enjoy the ceremony and enough of the reception to the point where you feel you can respectfully leave.
Sometimes weddings are full of tight-knit friend groups and family members who have tons of history together.
Or sometimes people have had one too many drinks and you’re over it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling it an early night. It’s better to leave before you get cranky, tired, sa, or feeling so awkward you can’t stand it. Showing up for a wedding is a sign of love, leaving when you’re ready is an act of self-love.
As military spouses we handle so many things (all the things) on our own. Don’t let the wedding invites trip you up. Be your own amazing date…and look fabulous while doing it.
Sidra Montgomery is a social science researcher studying issues of identity in the military and veteran community. She recently earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Maryland – College Park. She is a Navy Spouse and served on the 2015-2017 advisory board of the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN). Sidra loves to be active and spend time outdoors with her playful Rhodesian Ridgeback dog and her husband. You can learn more about on her website (https://sidramontgomery.