Washington - It was a beautiful summer day. I was surrounded by friends, new and old, celebrating our dear friend's pending nuptials, and I was bored out of my mind.
Not the whole time. Just in those moments when the partnered people were venting about wedding planning or their mothers-in-law, and I had nothing to contribute. I didn't want to give advice that was divorced from experience, and so, after politely nodding my way through the conversation, I ducked out to find the other single woman there, so we could bond over the experience of not having in-laws dote on us or DJs to hire.
And at any given bachelorette party, everyone there is likely be struggling with something. Here are some tips that could make the experience a tad easier.
If you're feeling uncomfortable, that's normal
Caroline Moss, co-author of Hey Ladies! The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year and Way, Way Too Many Emails, says this fish-out-of-water feeling is normal. "Bachelorette parties and everything in the wedding industry is designed to put a lot of pressure on whatever your relationship status is," Moss says.
"It feels very close to skin. At other functions that are wedding-related, no one seems to care" whether you're single or not, she adds. But at bachelorette parties, the single friends are often singled out to do the things that married or partnered friends don't have the freedom to do, which brings us to our next point.
If there's a potential for you to be uncomfortable, over-communicate
If you have a hunch a bachelorette weekend might surpass what your bank account or emotions can handle, Jackson suggests telling the planers what you've budgeted for the weekend - or that you might need a break at some point.
"If you are at a bachelorette party, these are people you actually care about. So don't feel like you need to hide your reality or carry shame around your circumstances," Charreah K. Jackson, author of Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman's Playbook for Love and Success, says, whether those circumstances are frail finances or raw emotions.
Come up with an exit strategy
This is a good rule of thumb for everyone. Moss remembers one bachelorette party in particular where she felt a bit out of her league (the other women were big partiers). So when she noticed there were four sets of keys to their Airbnb, she snagged one. That way she could bail if the night got too crazy.
It's about knowing your limits. "Assess the situation you're in and come up with a way where, if you start get anxious, you have a way out," Moss adds.
Don't automatically opt out of conversations, assuming you don't have anything to contribute
I left that mother-in-law conversation because I was bored. But I could have stayed. "There's a misconception that single women have nothing to contribute to conversations about marriage," Moss says, but that's not true. There's a lot single and married friends can learn from one another.
Your married friends will want to live vicariously through you. Take it as a compliment
When Moss was single, she remembers her married friends saying a version of: I'm married; I'm no fun anymore. You do the idiotic thing. Or at least entertain us with stories from your wild-and-crazy dating life!
Sometimes the single friend does want to tell these stories, or go kiss that cute stranger by the bar. But sometimes, she does not. And that's okay, too. "Don't over-promise to be the life of the party and then under-deliver," Moss says. "Keep people's expectations for you pretty low."
Take advantage of the best part of being single at a bachelorette party
... which is the best part of being single in real life. "There's the potential for something exciting to happen. You can flirt, and it can lead to something," says Michelle Markowitz, who wrote Hey Ladies! with Moss. There's no need to take time out from the festivities to check in with a boyfriend or husband. Plus, Moss notes, "Some of (my married friends) would make marriage sound really great, and sometimes they made marriage sound awful."
Celebrate what makes you different
"If you feel like being single is sad, everyone will treat it that way," Jackson notes. So if you're the one person who's different, you should celebrate that fact, Jackson says, because "what you feel about your circumstances is contagious."
At one bachelorette party I attended, the bride made a toast to everyone in the group, singling out each person's recent accomplishments: a new job or grad degree, or foray into standup comedy. It was a nice way to acknowledge that marriage isn't the only achievement in a woman's life worth celebrating. I'll toast to that any day.