Women Are Marrying Themselves in the Wake of the Pandemic

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  • “Sologamy,” or marrying oneself, has been on the rise among women.
  • Many sologamists say the isolation of the pandemic pushed them to formalize their deeper self-love.
  • While it’s not a binding marriage contract, some women throw themselves lavish weddings.

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When she opened the box with her engagement ring, Nneka Carter burst into tears. 

It was the ring she’d dreamed of her entire life — perhaps because the 40-year-old had designed it herself and was about to accept her own proposal. 

During the pandemic, Carter, a master cosmetologist and fitness instructor, endured months of separation from her friends and family. As a single woman, she had to remind herself that she could get through that difficult time on her own. Ultimately, she decided to affirm that strength by marrying herself.

In August, Carter said “I do” to herself at a surprise ceremony in Tampa, Florida, surrounded by 40 friends and family members. 

“The pandemic reminded me that I just need me to be happy,” she said. “I didn’t want to feel alone or lonely because I didn’t have a companion, or I wasn’t in a relationship.”

Nneka Carter poses with an

“The pandemic reminded me that I just need me to be happy,” said sologamist Nneka Carter.

Frederick Morris

Carter is one of dozens of singles around the globe who are embracing “sologamy,” vowing to love themselves until death do them part. On the rise over the past decade, the trend has kicked into high gear since COVID-19 hit, as singles exhausted by Zoom dates and fortified by months of homebound self-discovery have embraced public declarations of self-love. 

“With increased time spent at home alone, individuals have opted for new methods to appreciate themselves and enhance self-compassion,” said Ieva Kubiliute, a psychologist in Los Angeles. “Conducting a sologamy ceremony can be the perfect way to enhance self-compassion and appreciate yourself in the best way possible.”

Not a binding, legal affair, but an expression of self-love

Sologamy, aka self-marriage, isn’t a binding, legal affair. You don’t get a tax break, and you’re free to marry someone else in the future without officially divorcing yourself. 

As a result, it’s hard to track exactly how many women have committed to themselves. But Amen Jafri, the director and producer of a forthcoming self-marriage documentary called “So I Married Myself,” said the pandemic had definitely increased interest. 

“During the pandemic, as many people were left in isolation, or couples found their unions challenged living within close quarters, I started to see more of a focus on self-love,” Jafri said.

In the past, she added, self-love was seen as either a self-indulgent concept or a superficial act, like taking a bubble bath. But the pandemic forced a lot of inward reflection and the realization that, ultimately, we are our own best companions — and that healthy relationships require us to be comfortable with ourselves first.

A white woman clasps her hands.

During the pandemic, “I started to see more of a focus on self-love,” said Amen Jafri, the director of an upcoming documentary on sologamy.

Dougal Waters/Getty Images

That was the case for Ena Jones, 51, who married herself in September 2020 after living through the toughest months of the pandemic and deciding that she wanted to commit to herself forever.

“I feel like I’m never getting married again,” said Jones, of North Carolina, whose big day included 20 guests (because of COVID-19 restrictions), a white wedding gown, a tiara, a wedding cake covered in sunflowers, and plenty of tears.

In the ceremony, Jones promised to be truthful to herself and to love herself until death do her part. Whipping off her mask, she promised to enjoy life to the fullest.

Celebrities have tied the knot with themselves, too 

In recent years, some famous women have embraced sologamy. In 2017, the Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima announced on Instagram that she wore a diamond on her left ring finger because it was symbolic. “I am committed to myself and my own happiness,” she wrote. “I am married with me.” 

At the time, Lima was single, but last month, she announced that she and her partner, the film producer Andre Lemmers, were expecting a baby this fall. That’s not atypical for celebrity sologamists: The singer Fantasia Barrino married herself a few years before marrying her husband, and Emma Watson, who proudly announced that she was “self-partnered” in a 2019 Vogue interview, began dating the businessman Leo Robinton shortly thereafter. 

Even on “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw, who famously registered for a wedding to herself in a 2003 episode, ultimately walked down the aisle with Mr. Big. 

Adriana Lima attended the premiere of the movie

In 2017, model Adriana Lima announced she was “married with me,” complete with a diamond ring.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

But sologamists say the possibility of marrying someone else down the line shouldn’t negate the importance of their relationships with themselves.

“I chose to do this in recognition of the culmination of my journey to loving and accepting myself, and recognition that I didn’t need to be in a romantic relationship with a significant other to be happy or find fulfillment,” said Roberta “Robbie” Lyndall Fincham, who married herself on July 2 — her 55th birthday. Her closest friends attended the ceremony, complete with a wedding cake, in her garden.

“If someone has achieved something so important as self-love and self-compassion, then it’s definitely worth celebrating,” said Fincham, who lives in Australia. “Why should couples have all the fun?”

Robbie Fincham walks down the aisle after her self-marriage ceremony.

Robbie Fincham walks down the aisle after her self-marriage ceremony.

Yen Seo/Soul Child Photography

Cakes, white dresses, and photo shoots

Fun is a big part of the proposition for sologamists, who don’t think lavish proposals and extravagant marriage ceremonies should be limited to couples. 

At Carter’s wedding, guests were asked to wear white so that she could stand out in her bright pink and orange ensemble, which she described as her “happy colors.” Topping the wedding cake was a sign that said “I am enough.” 

And because she liked to be “a little extra,” Carter also purchased a white wedding gown, which she used specifically for a sologamy photo shoot.

Nneka Carter, a sologamist who married herself, poses in her white wedding gown.

Nneka Carter, a sologamist who married herself, poses in her white wedding gown.

Frederick Morris

Palmonia Gordon, a life coach, had promised herself that if she wasn’t married by the time she was 50, she would use her wedding dress and “have a big old celebration.” After going through her second divorce from the same man, she thought she had found love again with someone new, and she even went so far as to buy a gown.

But when the relationship didn’t work out, Gordon decided to move forward anyway. On her 50th birthday, she donned the gown and married herself at the Casablanca Hotel in Niagara Falls. 

“As I sat in the hotel and had the makeup artist apply my makeup, tears started running down my face,” Gordon said. “This was all about me. I was ready to declare to the world that I was in love with me.” 

While it wasn’t intentional, Gordon’s January 2020 self-wedding turned out to be a last hurrah before the pandemic struck. She said she was grateful for having done it, as she leaned on herself to get through the worst of the crisis. 

“At the time, I felt like something was compelling me to do it,” she said. “The pandemic brought home how important it is to seize the moments when we truly have them.”

Palmonia Gordon, who married herself, poses after her Niagara Falls wedding ceremony.

Palmonia Gordon, who married herself, poses after her Niagara Falls wedding ceremony.

Mahnoor Anjum

Not every sologamist feels the need for a big wedding

After learning about sologamy online, Ghia Vitale, a 32-year-old writer from Long Island, New York, proposed to herself in her bedroom. 

“I am sexually and romantically attracted to myself, so it feels right,” Vitale said. “It’s also my way of rebelling against the institution of marriage and traditional relationship norms that I don’t agree with.”

One of those norms may be a traditional marriage ceremony. At the moment, Vitale doesn’t know whether she wants to do it herself or have someone else officiate it. After all, sologamy is first and foremost about the commitment to caring for oneself, whether it’s a massive hotel affair or a silent solo ceremony in front of the bedroom mirror.

That sentiment resonated with Jafri, who began her film as an observer but plans to join the ranks of the sologamists. She plans to purchase her own self-love ring next week.

“I started this film as a fascinated observer frustrated by the societal constraints placed on women, starting with the need to be partnered,” she said. “But I’ve realized I’ve learned a lot from it over the past two years already.”