I've always thought of myself as pretty unsociable. My husband (can't get used to that!) is Mr. Sociable. He loves to go out and is never happier than when in a big crowd of friends. I, on the other hand, have never had a big group of mates in my life. I have usually had one, maybe two, close friends at a time. Then I move and lose touch with them and start again. I often have panic attacks about going to big parties and find my husband's friendly, enthusiastic, interested, and kind mates make me hyperventilate with anxiety.
So over the last few years I have constructed an identity for myself as basically friendless. I don't go out much. I lose touch with people easily. I'm a bad friend: I never call. I'm both lazy and afraid of boring people so don't contact them very often. And I've become more and more sure that I'm just not a social creature. I've tended to minimize the importance of all my relationships.
In fact, my initial vision for the wedding was a very small gathering — the two of us, our parents and brothers, a total of 11 people. Obviously this was never going to fit with my other half's plans and we ended up having about 100 people there. This was the cause of enormous and paralyzing anxiety to me in the run-up to the wedding day.
From the night of the un-hen party (a few cocktails with five close friends, both male and female) through the organization and rehearsing, through the wedding itself, the wedding was such an intense emotional experience. And from it, I had a surprising revelation.
The wedding made me fundamentally reassess that whole “friendless” narrative. Because it was all about people: being surrounded by love and affection and friendship, and realizing suddenly that I'm not an unsociable hermit after all.
I do have friends — I just don't have groups of friends. And I do enjoy socializing, just not quite as much as some people. And actually people are pleased to see me and don't think I'm boring. Surprise! Who knew?! Basically I'd allowed social anxiety to gradually chip away at me for a long time and the wedding really made me put it into perspective.
I wasn't expecting this realization at all — I thought that if anything, the wedding would make me reassess my relationship with my partner somehow. Instead it made me reassess how I feel about and interact with family and friends, and realize just how important certain people are to me. It was very liberating and kind of exciting.
It also adjusted my thinking about what mattered about the wedding itself: it wouldn't have been nearly as good, it wouldn't have been enough (for either of us), if we'd had the tiny intimate party I'd originally envisaged. Of course every couple is different but I realize now that, for us at least, the wedding was all about everybody else, not just us two.