"Sometimes I think about those statistics that say college-educated women over 30 have very little chance of getting married, and the over-40s can forget it," says Meredith, 34. "I just don't buy that line of thinking."
The "fashion magazine stats," as Meredith dryly refers to them, contrast sharply with the flurry of knot-tying among her peers. In the past three months, Meredith has attended the weddings of three of her closest girlfriends--one colleague, one childhood pal, one roommate of six years.
So how has all the matrimonial hoo-ha affected Meredith? Is she supportive? Envious? Bored?
"I attended all three weddings, and only one made me want to get married," she says. "I think that happened for a couple reasons, but mainly because that was the only (ceremony) I wasn't in, so my mind wasn't so occupied.
"Also, it was a medium-sized wedding, maybe 100 people, and there were no unattached men. " Meredith says, laughing. "I felt like a spinster."
A fleeting feeling, no doubt, for the Costa Mesa resident who works as a deputy district attorney and describes herself as "single and happy as a clam."
"I think it helps that I like all three spouses," she says. "At my age, women marry for better reasons. They tend to look for someone who can be a life mate, someone they think they can live with, rather than somebody they're swept off their feet by romantically. So they tend to choose men who make good friends."
On the downside, marriage has cut into the time Meredith and her buddies spend socializing. She still clocks in about the same number of hours with her childhood friend, who lives in Los Angeles (a long phone call once a month, visits a couple of times a year). But the ex-roomie and the colleague she used to see every day--"I talk with them on the phone once a week, and see them maybe once a month."
"I know that they have exactly what they want right now," she says, "and it's pleasing to me to see them . . . so genuinely excited and in love. But there's also a feeling of loss, I have to admit. I miss them."
Because of limited time together--and the "new dimension" in her friends' lives--Meredith sees fundamental changes in her friendships.
"In the little time we have together, (conversation is) taken up with, 'What's new with you?' 'What's new with you?' What's new with them always includes the partner. What's new with me is probably a new guy or a new trial.
"When you're both single, you kind of live things together," she says. "When your friends are married, they watch you, and you watch them, rather than true sharing."
Still, the recent pairings have given an unexpected lift to Meredith's social life.
"Married men are a lot more inclined than single men to fix you up," she says brightly. "They're more likely to say, 'Hey, come on over, I've got a friend. . . . ' Especially newlywed men--they want all of their friends to marry, because they're so thrilled.
"I might not see as much of my girlfriends as I used to," she says, "but when I do, it's often in the company of other people, new people, new men. "
Korina, 18, hasn't been to any weddings lately, but she has watched three girlfriends disappear into relationships with significant others. The Huntington Beach student, who lives with her parents and brother, says she figures "it's just a matter of time" until embossed invitations arrive.
Like Meredith, Korina says she's happy for her friends, even though she feels "kind of off by myself now."
Yet her comments contain a few minor complaints and a reprise of clear intention: "I would definitely like to be married," she says. "I think about marriage a lot. It's something I'm absolutely ready for."
Toughest for Korina has been the relationship between her brother, who is 19, and one of her friends.
"We were best friends, then she started going out with my brother," Korina explains. "At first it wasn't a big deal, but (as the relationship progressed) we were hanging out less and less, and she was spending more and more time with him.
"Now, I go to school, work a full-time job, come home and they're snuggling on the couch," she says, a laugh taking the edge off her words. "That can get on your nerves a little."
Korina says her closest buddies until a year ago were her brother's girlfriend and another friend who's now "real, real involved.
"The three of us used to call ourselves 'the squirrels,' because we did everything together," she says. "We went to movies, clubs, hung around downtown (Huntington Beach). We were goofy. We had a lot of fun."
And, as Meredith mentioned, they lived things together.
"We used to go to clubs, come home and talk about everyone we met," Korina says. "It was like, 'I got this guy's number,' 'I got that guy's number.'
"I'm not really into that whole scene anymore. I got burned out on going to clubs. But I do miss when we'd rehash what went on at the end of the night. That was the really fun part.