Aren’t weddings fun? Free booze, mountains of delicious food, and if you’re a single girl like me, there’s usually at least a few single men to flirt with. Before I became a mom, I was all about weddings. Even the ones that required me to travel. Because heck, who doesn’t love an excuse to get on a plane and go somewhere for a party?
I’ll tell you who: Moms.
Since my daughter was born four years ago, I have RSVP’d “Can’t make it” to six different weddings. And three of those were weddings for some of my very closest friends. Unfortunately, they all required expensive travel. And one was actually a kid-free wedding.
Sorry (okay, not sorry), but I’m a single mom, and especially in that kid-free wedding scenario, there was just no way that was going to work. I don’t have family nearby I can leave my kiddo with, which would have meant either begging friends to take my then-2-year-old for a few days, or bringing her with me and hiring a stranger to babysit her there. And that extra hassle would have been on top of the $2,000+ in airfare and $500+ on hotel accommodations. All so that I could go to a wedding where a friend —- who I do dearly love and miss terribly, for the record —- would have had 200 other guests she would also have been spending her time catching up with.
So nope, I couldn’t do it. There was just no way I could justify spending that kind of a money on a trip that would have involved so much hassle and so little actual quality time with the person I was traveling to see.
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If I’m being honest, I haven’t always had the money to spend on these weddings even if there was more quality time involved. Because, motherhood.
Part of this is on me. I’m the one who is a bit of a nomad and has made friends who are also a bit nomadic themselves, leaving me with invites to weddings all over the country. But you want to know a secret? I’ve even bailed on weddings for acquaintances right here in my hometown. Because while I technically could have brought my kiddo with me, trying to manage her unpredictable toddler behavior at a wedding attended by a bunch of people I didn’t know super well did not sound like a fun way to spend one of our coveted weekend days. And hiring a sitter would have meant giving up one of my rare sitter nights just to watch someone I knew and liked, but wasn’t super close to, say “I do.”
Call me selfish, but I’d rather use that sitter for a girl’s night out and some quality time with the close friends I otherwise don’t get to see enough of.
A few weeks ago though, I did drag my daughter along to the first and only wedding she’s ever attended. We had to travel to Seattle, but I have other close friends there as well — so we made a week of that wedding trip, and even got two extra days of quality time in with the bride and groom before the rest of their guests arrived. That quality time with both them and my other friends absolutely made the trip worth it in my mind.
But the wedding itself was a reminder of why I’ve said “no” more often than not to these invites.
Don’t get me wrong: I had a great time, and my daughter had a blast being the life of the party. But you know what? I spent so much time turning her into a princess that I had only 15 minutes to get ready myself. She got extra pouty and fidgety as we waited in our seats for the wedding to begin. And we had to spend the reception cocktail hour back in our room cleaning up her dress, because she was devastated when it got mud on it. I couldn’t really have adult conversations, because I was too focused on her most of the time. She wasn’t digging any of the fancy foods we were served for dinner, and struggled with understanding that the bride and groom could not make her their sole focus once the meal was over. After all, they had spent days doting on her, shouldn’t she still be by their side for every second of their wedding celebration as well?
Of course not. But you try explaining that to a 4-year-old who thinks her auntie and uncle hung the moon.
Once the dancing started, her smile returned. But around 9 PM, she started fading (and misbehaving as a result). We had to say our goodnights just as the party was getting to the good part — the drinking and dancing and reminiscing that I used to love most about weddings.
So yes, we had a good time. And I was thankful to be there for one of my best friends in this world. But … having a kid changes things. And weddings aren’t quite the same when you have them to think about. (I mean, I didn’t even have more than a single glass of wine!)
So friends, don’t take it personally if I have to send my regrets to your wedding invite. The truth is, I’m much more frugal with both my time and my money these days. And if your wedding requires travel, is kid-free, or is going to be attended by a bunch of people I really don’t know that well, there’s a strong chance I won’t be able to make it.
I’ll still be celebrating you in spirit, though. And keeping all my missed weddings in mind when my own day comes.
(Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Babble.com. It has been reprinted here with permission. The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of both ABC News and Babble.)