real life

What no one tells you about attending a wedding after the death of your partner.

Love, it’s a beautiful thing. There is such joy in seeing a couple – giddy with love for each other – come together to exchange wedding vows surrounded by friends and family.

Though we are widowed, we can appreciate love for what it is. We had that same love too. The kind that gives you butterflies when he walks into the room. Where you wonder how one person can truly know you – flaws and all – and still love you wholly and completely. Who makes you better by their mere existence.

We know our widowed status can make others uneasy. We get that our lives are a reminder that bad things happen to good people and that happily ever after can come long before you’re ready to say goodbye.

Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud hosts discuss the wedding trends that are over in 2017. 

But we’d also like you to look beyond our widowhood when inviting us to weddings/functions. Before you point to wedding etiquette and Guest Rules 101, know that we understand weddings and private affairs are expensive. We know you’ve budgeted for a set number of people and may have very little wiggle room. We just think it’s insulting that everyone – even singles (in non-committed relationships) – is permitted to bring a guest and we are not.

“But you’re widowed!”

Yes, our spouse has died but does that banish us into “No +1” territory for the rest of our lives? This is especially hard when brides/hosts we consider close friends don’t give us the option of a date/guest simply because we’re widowed. If it’s an across the board rule, we can certainly understand and respect it. We do ask that if your big day is our very first wedding post-loss, that you please show a bit of compassion. You’d be surprised at how many hurt feelings can be eliminated with a simple telephone call.


Then there are times when we meet Miss Manner’s rule of thumb for having a +1 only to be told, “Well, your late spouse’s friends will be at the wedding and we’re just not sure if they are ready to see you with your new guy.”

Image via iStock.

Again, we are punished for being dealt a hand we did not choose. Three years post loss and we’re still not allowed to pick up the pieces of our lives. Should we dye our wedding dress black, build a shrine and spend the rest of our days wailing? Do you seriously need a public display of grief?

So we get a conditional invite. You can come BUT…

You can’t bring the guy you’ve been seeing for the past two years…

You can’t look too happy…

You can only come to the wedding; not the reception…

We’re happy to support you from a distance if you feel “widowed” means “alone now and forever”. We’re happy to root for your new marriage from miles away if our newfound love makes others uncomfortable. It’s your day and we want to honor that but we will not add another ounce of weight to the already heavy load of being widowed.

If having lost a spouse is the only reason our invitation is missing the line to add a guest, then shame on you. We’re deserving of a +1…even with a dead hubby.

Mom to a feisty preschooler, Kerry Phillips became widowed at age 32. She runs an online support group for young widows and widowers venturing back into the world of dating and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.

This post originally appeared on Young Widowed and Dating and has been republished here with full permission.