Screw Weddings

Perhaps you’ve heard, but there’s been a lot of attention paid of late to the fact there are more single people than ever in this country, and gasp! they’re just fine with being so. But here’s one thing that sucks about being single: You can’t have a wedding. And while this may seem obvious, as having a relationship is a pretty integral part in throwing such an event, hear me out for a minute. Because as much as weddings have been commodified and over-stylized and hyped to the point where they seem to have become more important than the bond itself — call it the Wedding Industrial Complex — there’s still (hopefully) meaning behind them, and what’s more, they’re a hell of a lot of fun.

If you’re single, you’ve probably made an investment in someone else’s happiness: buying your fair share of plane tickets and hotel rooms, bridesmaids dresses or tux rentals, wedding and shower gifts. And perhaps you believe that at some point, you’ll likely get married as well, so it all shakes out in the end.

But what if you realize that a wedding just isn’t in your cards? Sure, you could go all Carrie Bradshaw and register for a pair of Manolos, or you could do what Bostonian Ashley Norwood did when she decided to throw herself an “AshBash,” or the wedding reception she never had. Her party, and her personal journey coming to terms with being happy on her own, are the subjects of a new documentary, AshBash, A Love Story, which premieres on Monday, April 16, at the AMC Loews Boston Common as part of the Boston International Film Festival.

“When I was around 39 I had this epiphany, that [being single] wasn’t something that was happening to me. I was subconsciously making a choice that I wasn’t aware of,” Norwood says. And once she came to that realization, she decided to celebrate it, inviting family and friends from across the country to share in her happiness. Norwood says that for years, she was asked by many of them when she intended to settle down. But gathering all of her loved ones in one room allowed them to see exactly how complete her life already was. “No one had seen the fullness of my life,” she says. “When people saw the scope of all of my relationships, they got it. I don’t think anyone worries anymore that Ash is alone. But I don’t worry anymore either.”

Norwood’s AshBash was a success (it involved a family talent show so how could it not be?) and she says that movie is just her own story, it’s “not about being a movement.” But here’s a thought: Perhaps it should be.

For more, check out AshBash: a love story from Heidi Sullivan on Vimeo.