9 Things I Notice Now That I'm the Middle-Aged Wedding Guest

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My husband and I were married in the ’90s, when cell phones were bigger than toasters and Mark Zuckerberg was in elementary school. Like many twentysomethings, we did the wedding circuit as most of our friends tied the knot, and then the invitations dwindled. Over the past decade, we’ve attended a few celebrations, but the one we attended last weekend was a far cry from the weddings of our youth. The bride was a work colleague of my husband’s, and almost 20 years my junior. Weddings look much different when you’re in the older half of the crowd, particularly when you know no one but your own date.

Here are some wedding observations from a not-so-fresh-faced bride:

The ubiquitous disposable wedding cameras on each table are obsolete.

Instead, guests are encouraged to take photos with their phones and tag them with a wedding hashtag conceived by the couple: #mrandmrsjones #gothitched #hopefullyforever

DIY no longer means decoupaged picture frames and sachets.

Chalkboard paint, mason jars and burlap rule, and any bride can create her dream wedding if she spends enough time on Pinterest. And if she can’t do it herself, she can pay someone she finds on Etsy to do it for her.

‘Here Comes the Bride’ is so 20th century.

With any song ever written available online, couples can create a personalized playlist for the ceremony.

The bride used to change into her traveling outfit at the end of the reception. Why wait that long?

Many brides change into a shorter, simpler and more comfortable white dress for some portion of the party, and toss off the heels in favor of a cushy pair of flip-flops. As a guest, I leave my barking dogs in my shoes because I refuse to part with the sexiest thing I’m wearing.

The work table is still in the corner.

Seating is ranked. Close friends and family are in the center, spiraling out until the colleagues and crazy distant relatives populate the far reaches of the room.

The nutty uncle who can’t hold his liquor is still invited.

I witnessed an older man guzzling a beer on the dance floor—while standing on his head. Impressive and disturbing.

I am now closer in age to the mother of the bride than to the bride.

This horrified me, especially when I observed that the mothers of the happy couple are still wearing the beaded full-length gowns that scream “I’m middle-aged!”

There is a subtle scent of desperation among the unattached guests.

I never used to smell it, but my nose has matured. Even guests who are perfectly content with their single relationship status feel the pull of couplehood, and watching them play the field could entertain me for hours.

Being a wedding guest is freeing.

All eyes are on the bride, except for the groomsmen scoping out the single ladies. I can eat and drink with enthusiasm and dance with abandon—no one notices. On the parquet dance floor, my husband spins and dips me like he did on our wedding day, leaving me breathless and feeling like I’m 23 again.

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