You stagger home from work way too late, open your mailbox, and there they are. Another wedding invitation! And a save-the-date! Did you get a +1? No, you did not -- to either. Why? Because you are single. A scene from the future reception unfolds in your mind like a montage from the beginning of the Like-"My-Best-Friend’s-Wedding"-But-Ends-The-Way-It-Should blockbuster romcom you’re going to make one day, the one in which the heroine is slouches single and drunk and alone in a hotel ballroom taking disposable-camera photos of herself...
Stop. End your stationery-induced fugue. Why? Because you’re going to a wedding single, and it's a little-known fact that in reality (not just in "Wedding Crashers," and not just for dudes who want to be Owen Wilson when they never grow up), attending friends’ nuptials stag can be fantastic.
Think about it: There’s unlimited champagne (well, unlimited enough). You get to dress up. If you look great, people may notice you. If you don’t, no one will notice you because, whoa, there’s a bride (or two!) in the room. You may get to hang out with people from college or earlier whom you miss and rarely see (and some you don’t miss, but with the right amount of champagne, they will at least look attractive). If it’s one of those years where your group of friends has approximately 15 weddings to attend between May and December, you have other poor people to commiserate with.
Still, just to make sure it goes your way, here’s a handy list of ways to make a wedding work for you when you’re attending solo:
DON’T Wear White
This should go without saying, but in case you’ve momentarily convinced yourself otherwise, let us assure you: The bride will mind. You will look tacky. If you tend to care what other people think, you will feel immediately self-conscious, and you do not need a Shosh moment ruining this for you.
DON’T Participate In The Bouquet Nonsense
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to be singled out and put on display. When the band starts playing “Single Ladies,” consider it your cue to take a breather.
DO Share A Room
Preferably with some of your favorite female friends. You’ll save money, you’ll have someone to help you choose between dress A and dress B (always pack two options), and you'll be far more inclined to host the hotel after-party if fellow hostesses are involved. (Note: If one or more of you hope to bring someone back to the room later, develop a plan ahead of time.)
DON’T Hook Up With More Than One Member Of The Wedding Party
Chances are at least some of the bride and and groom’s attendants know each other well -- very well. Some of them may be siblings, former college roommates, old flames. Rest assured that they will talk. In a very short period of time, things could get very, very awkward, mostly for you, and for no good reason. The right lone groomsman or bridesmaid should entertain you for at least four hours. No need to be greedy.
DO Take Time For Yourself
If these nuptials are a weekend-long affair, and especially if you know most of the other guests well and/or are all staying in the same place, it's easy to get overwhelmed. You have every right to use periods of downtime to work out, explore the local area on your own, spend some time alone at the pool or get some work done. You are not obligated to participate in group activities that don't include the bride or groom.
DO Be The Best Version Of You
Weddings call for good behavior (then again, so do most things). The happy couple and their families have invested a lot financially and emotionally in this day. This is not the time for you to give the drunken impromptu speech, monopolize the bride or groom’s time, move your place card to the table you should have been at, suggest an alternate schedule to the wedding planner, (intentionally) photobomb anyone, streak, take just the tiniest taste of the cake before It’s Time, pass out anywhere or set anything on fire with your bon voyage sparkler. We know you’d never do any of this, but just in case... (Note: If you’re hoping to meet someone at this blessed event, it should go without saying that this DO is especially advised.)
DO Embrace The Cocktail Hour
Contrary to what the multi-course sit-down dinner awaiting you might suggest, this is the main event, folks. The food is more varied and interesting (and usually more delicious), there are, true to the name, cocktails flowing, there are no speeches, and you’re not trapped at a table for two hours -- yet. Savor it.
DO Get In There
A wedding is an entire occasion dedicated to saying "I do". As a guest, it’s your job to say you do to as much as possible (the aforementioned bouquet toss excluded). Do mingle, get out on the dance floor, hora with the best of them, agree to be in pictures, show up at the cake cutting and the send-off. Tell the bride(s) she/they look(s) beautiful. Thank the couple’s parents. Then make a graceful exit. You have an after-party to get to -- or host.
DO Have A Real Conversation
You have no problem hitting the dance floor with friends for the fast songs, but if you find yourself without a partner during the slow ones, don’t worry. Use the time to go beyond the “How are you?” and “Where are you these days?” questions and really catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. There’s always going to be someone whose feet are hurting and a wise couple who picks dessert over dancing.
DO Pace Yourself
Are you still 21? You are not. That means you know by now that an open bar is no reason to drink so much that you forget most of the evening and can’t function in the morning. The correct response to a groomsman yelling “Shots?!” is a sudden, urgent need to go to the bathroom. When you come back, no one will realize you didn’t partake, and you’ll feel better than all of them at the morning-after brunch. Doing it up doesn’t have to mean doing yourself in.
DO Indulge In A Self-Congratulatory Pep Talk
Relish the fact that you did not just force all of your friends to wear $350 worth of shantung that there is not even the remotest possibility they will wear again. Nor did you put yourself through three successive prenuptial juice cleanses. You did not receive three of the same hideous tray (and zero of the one you registered for), force your divorced parents to be in the same room for the first time in 20 years, have to assign an underage cousin to control Uncle Richard’s Scotch intake, get bustled or spend $30,000 to $500,000 you could have used to make a down payment on a home, on a single night. Sure, you might go for some or all of the above some day, but today is not that day, and you are not (yet) that person. It’s okay to enjoy this moment.
DO Take (Mental) Notes
So what if your own wedding isn’t in the immediate future? There’s no reason you can’t use this as an opportunity to think about what you might do or definitely not do when it does come around (but for god’s sake, don’t take physical notes on an actual pad). Centerpieces so tall that guests can’t see across the table? Painfully cheesy, TMI handwritten vows? Best music played as dinner’s being served? You now know not to make these mistakes. And if you have no interest in getting married, ever, you can devote those brain cells instead to the member of the wedding party you have plans for later.