Whether you’re booked every weekend through October or it’s only a cousin or two getting hitched, wedding season is upon us! As a seasoned wedding guest, I’ve developed some strategies over the years that can make this awkward time full of strangers’ relatives a season of celebration.
1. Wedding Buddy: If you don’t know many people there, find a Wedding Buddy. If you’re unattached, this person will be your BFF (for the weekend, at least). Distant cousins and single friends of the couple from whichever educational stage yielded fewest attachments are great potential Wedding Buddies. Your Wedding Buddy can be your partner in crime and collectively you can expand the circle of people you know. Bonus points if y’all decide to make out!
Example: Meredith went canoeing and instigated a massage line with her wedding buddy at her friends Hannah and Peter’s wedding. Then they hooked up in the back of her friend’s rental minivan. It was great!
2. The Wedding Uniform: You know how cartoon characters always wear the same outfit? Haven’t you always wished you were Mickey Mouse, or Doug from the TV show “Doug?” Even if you have a bangin’ wardrobe, it’s nice to have a special outfit to wear for someone else’s special day. Wearing the same outfit to every wedding you attend helps you streamline your packing, save money and always look fabulous. Plus, NO ONE WILL EVER NOTICE! Unless 5 of your cousins are getting married in the same wedding season, in which case, I hope that you really like your aunts and uncles.
Example: Nancy bought a really pretty dress from Anthropologie that she shouldn’t have spent so much of her paycheck on in Spring 2015. She is getting ready to wear it to her fifth wedding next weekend. Nancy always gets compliments on her outfit and it’s comfortable. Plus, despite the fact that it looks like she’s only ever attended one wedding in her tagged photos on Facebook, not a single wedding guest has ever realized that she’s worn it to every wedding she’s been to since 2014 and will continue doing so until it goes out of style/she spills red wine on it and ruins it.
3. Wedding Cake: A wedding cake that tastes delicious is the exception to the rule. Don’t get your hopes up for wedding cake; you are bound to be disappointed. Instead, make sure you have a designated driver and help yourself to an extra alcoholic beverage instead! It will make it all the more bearable when you get dragged out on the dance floor to do the Macarena.
Case Study: Mary took one bite of Carly’s wedding cake, decided that it tasted like sawdust, and traded her desert plate for a 5th Bud Lite. This came in handy when Carly’s mother asked Mary to request one of the Trifecta of Shitty Wedding Songs from the DJ. Mary did it, and loved it. THANKS BUDWEISER.
4. Mentally Prepare for the Trifecta of Shitty Wedding Songs: Fortunately, my last few friends who have gotten married have had the taste to hire live musicians rather than a wedding DJ. If your bride and groom, or bride and bride, or groom and groom are not of this ilk, you may have to endure what I christened the “Trifecta of Shitty Wedding Songs” after I spent a summer catering approximately 100 billion weddings. These three songs are all designed to get people onto the dance floor while crossing generational lines. What’s not to love? Well, actually a lot.
Here’s the Trifecta:
- The Macarena – Los Del Rio or the Electric Slide – Marcia Griffiths. Both of these songs have dances that those alive in the US in the 80s or 90s know how to do. Both will get stuck in your head for the rest of the wedding and pound through your hungover skull on your drive home the next day.
- Cha Cha Slide – DJ Caspar. At first, the Cha Cha Slide provided a refreshing alternative to the aforementioned songs. By the mid-2000s however, just as your average wedding DJ discovered the song, the rest of us had grown tired of trying to remember what to do when they say “Charlie Brown” and being forced to clap your hands. Just because your dad AND your 8 year old cousin can dance to this song, it does not mean that they should.
- Shout! – Isley Brothers. While this on its own is not a terrible song, at a wedding, it comes with the expectation that you will be able to shimmy your butt to the floor whilst wearing high heels, then bring it up incrementally along with the music. Guess what? The average wedding guest can’t do this for the approximately 20 minutes it takes before this song is over, even without a stomach full of pork chop or chicken parmesan. After the herculean task of dancing to this song is over, everyone has to sit down because they’re tired, thus defeating the purpose of playing an inter-generational participatory dance groove.
Unfortunately the best advice I have for dealing with the Trifecta is to just suck it up and do it and pretend like you’re having the best time EVER! Then go request some R.Kelly because there’s nothing like a little Ignition (Remix) to help everyone get down.
5. The Wedding Weeper. If you’re the kind of person that can’t make it through a wedding without tearing up, have no shame. Cry freely, openly and make sure you packed tissues and waterproof mascara. Heck, if you need to take that awkward time between ceremony and wedding when the wedding party is taking pictures to go off somewhere and cry because love is beautiful, feel free to do it! Best of all, Wedding Season and Allergy Season frequently coincide, so you can always claim to have gotten a little pollen in your eye if no one else is feeling the waterworks.
Personally, I haven’t made it through a single wedding ceremony without crying since I was a child. This has even happened at strangers’ weddings where I was merely providing music and didn’t know any of the involved parties. There’s just something about ceremonies representing love that make me bawl like a well-dressed baby.
If you are not a Wedding Weeper, have empathy. Just because you don’t tear up during the father-daughter dance because you are worried that your dad will DIE before you get married, doesn’t mean that you should make fun of people who do. You don’t know what’s going on in their heads or their lives. If you are not capable of mustering a single tear for true love, then perhaps you should consider making a Wedding Weeper your Wedding Buddy so you don’t look like a fucking sociopath when you have dry eyes when the groom plays fiddle as his bride walks down the aisle, because that shit is beautiful.
6. The Dry Wedding. Occasionally, you will be invited to a Dry Wedding. While a Dry Wedding is understandable if the bride(s) or groom(s) are former alcoholics, or 16, other reasons for having a dry wedding, like “Born Again Christian” can be harder to reconcile. As wedding guests, we don’t expect an open bar, but when the champagne toast is done with Martinelli’s rather than Andre, it’s natural to be disappointed (especially when the ceremony consisted of a sermon talking about how women should obey their husbands). More rebellious wedding guests can go the BYO-secret flask route, but for the more law-abiding ones, I recommend simply sucking it up and leaning into the awkwardness. Participate to your fullest in all of the corny wedding traditions. Make a heroic leap for the garter or bouquet. It’s fine if you take out one of the flower girls in the process. A six year old is far too young to get married anyway. When the bride and groom leave the reception after an hour to go “do it” for the first time (assuming that the Dry Wedding is also a Born Again Christian one), you’ll have plenty of time to grab your wedding buddy and hightail it to the nearest bar.
7. You Don’t Have to Go. You are never obligated to attend a wedding. Your middle school friend who met her fiancee through online gaming and is getting married on the opposite side of the country that you haven’t been able to relate to in years? Yeah, punt it. My personal rule of thumb is to only go to the weddings where I am financially able to attend and emotionally able to provide as much support and love as possible to the happy couple. There will be other, less stressful times to connect with the people getting married. And chances are, that unless you are their sibling, parent or only friend, your absence will not have a major impact on their special day.
8. Remember Why You Are There, You Ingrate! You are there because your friend/relative/colleague and/or your significant other’s friend/relative/colleague has decided to give matrimony the old college try! This is a time to celebrate people you (or your significant other) love and care deeply about (or feel some vague obligation to based on bloodlines). Can you handle that? Sure you can. Now who wants to practice the Macarena?