Josh Kaplan

How to survive wedding season as a Jewish Milennial

I've reached that age when my summers disappear into a succession of marriage events


Green envelope with white wax seal stamp, green plant branch and peach ribbon on white background

August 18, 2022 14:14

For years, I denied it was coming down the tracks. I said it could never happen to me, that I would be forever free from the endless rigmarole, the pomp and pageantry.

But it comes to us all. Like the inevitability of death, taxes and prostate checks, I’ve finally aged into wedding season.

It started last year, the slow drizzle of save the dates, followed by the downpour of formal invitations, hand-drawn maps and whimsical rhymes thinly veiling appeals for honeymoon cash.

Suddenly, without my say-so, I saw my summers disappearing before my very eyes, as my holidays for the next half a decade of my life were wrested out of my control, instead decided by where my friends first looked lovingly into their partners’ eyes.

What surprised me most of all was the timing. The last time I checked, my peers and I were largely muddling through things, still undecided as to the trajectory of the next six months of life, let alone the next 40-50 years.

And then all of a sudden, without much warning, everyone decided overnight to run, full steam ahead, into domesticity. I guess it shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise: after all the pandemic took two of the prime years from my age cohort, depositing us at the end far too close to 30 for comfort.

I’m not sure what it says about me that my first reaction was not one of altruistic glee. In fact, the prospect of myriad weddings filled me with dread.

Maybe it was the thought of the endless envelopes stuffed with cash, the uncomfortable suits, the sweltering tents, the worry that someone will be dropped when hoisted high on a chair, or the melancholy sense that my friendship group is exiting our late twenties hedonism.

But — leaving aside my new understanding of the transient and fleeting nature of youth — I’m pleased to report as my first official wedding season comes to a close, there are at least two things I’ve enjoyed.

The first is that I realised that weddings can be fantastic. No matter the venue or the food or any of the accoutrements that the couple spent weeks agonising over, at the end of the day it’s a big party, usually a fairly nice one with at least some of your close friends.

As people inch toward 30 and begin the Great Exodus out of London, you realise that long gone are the days when meeting up didn’t involve ten different calendar apps and three separate WhatsApp chats just to figure out when in September 2023 you all might be in the same place long enough for more than one drink.

Even destination weddings, when you have to factor in flights and accommodation and pack for all possible weathers, can be quite fun and an excuse for a mini-break somewhere you’d never even think of. Lisbon! Rome! Belfast!

The second joy that I’ve discovered this wedding season is sadly, far more misanthropic. Because for all the joy and fun that a great wedding can bring, nothing beats the feeling that turning down an invitation gives.

In an instant, with a short, politely worded text, you can set yourself free. No more wondering if you need an entire suit just for one day or if a new tie will suffice.

Free from the travel and planning and small talk with someone’s uncle you’ll never see again. Liberation from hearing about why table names based on places important to the couple’s relationships are actually a unique choice and not a cliché.

Like slipping into a warm bath or taking off your bag after a hellish commute home, it’s the sort of cathartic release that many can only dream of. But the invitation rejection is a powerful tool which should only be used sparingly.

Besides being known as a bore at parties, having a reputation for flaking is one of the worst attributes you can have attached to you. The wedding decline can only be used with confidence in certain situations.

If you think you were a last- minute seat filler invite, if you’re a mere evening guest or if the wedding is abroad then all can be declined without much guilt. However, within the M25, it becomes a more delicate dance.

Will you see this person more than twice in the next six months? If not, you shouldn’t feel obliged to attend. But if they’re a regular fixture in your life, and you’re trying to bail just out of laziness, you should suck it up. You never know, it may actually be a good time. And who knows who you’ll meet?

August 18, 2022 14:14

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