A few weeks ago I popped my cherry…my wedding cherry that is. It was the first one I’d ever been to (at least one where I wasn’t some two-year-old toddler who fell asleep under the table). But now I’m at that age where weddings are regular weekend activities and Facebook is a continuous update on who’s next to take the plunge into holy matrimony. So in lieu of the rapid landslide of my friends that will drop off the map and become domesticated husbands-in-training over the next while — as well as the brigade of wedding invites and blissful happiness that is bound to be thrown in my face — I’ve created my own personal guide to surviving the wedding season.
Being a guest is a party, being in the wedding is a job: A wedding has two different tiers — the people that are there working (everybody in the wedding) and the people that get to drink, eat and judge their hard work (the guests). Before you get all excited about being named the best man, or even a groomsmen for that matter, you might want to think about what it will entail exactly. Getting invited to a wedding is just circling an epic party night on your calendar a year in advance, but being in the wedding is basically being given a part-time job on a 1-year contract. Particularly if named the best man, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Not only will have you have all your duties on the actual day, which will primarily consist of staying sober for half the night, keeping the groom in check, and delivering a perfectly combined sentimental and hilarious speech. But leading up to the day you will have to plan, organize, get people together, as well as save a sh**load of cash to throw a bachelor party that will be forever ingrained into your buddy’s memory as his last big hurrah. That’s a lot of pressure over a long period of time, isn’t it? All so you can be broke, uptight, and salivating for anything with alcohol in it on the big day.
One-night stand friendships: If you were brought to the wedding as someone’s date, or your date is in the bridal party, then it’s likely you won’t know many people, (perhaps nobody) at the wedding. This is where you’re going to want to befriend a dude early on in the night so you aren’t sitting by yourself drinking champagne and playing on your phone. Even if you think the guy is a square, he will act as the perfect buffer for you to then meet other people, at least just until you’re drunk enough to start introducing yourself to people on your own. Also, if your girlfriend or the girl that brought you is a bridesmaid or the maid of honour, then you won’t see her until well after the ceremony. For the whole first part of the wedding, she’ll be on bride duty. She’ll be wiping the bride’s tears, fixing her dress, adjusting her breasts, and even helping her pi** and sh** if she has to, not to mention, the whole entourage of pictures she’ll have to take with the bride after the ceremony. Tensions will be high and she will be busy, so make sure you stay far away from that “bridal den” and go find a friend for the night. You’ll catch up with her after the ceremony, and you would have passed a pretty impressive test if you’ve made friends and are already a hit with other wedding goers. Don’t worry, it’s a wedding and this guy you met probably is in the same boat — he was more worried about being alone than whether or not you are actually cool. You can part ways at the end of the night, without having to worry about exchanging information.
Get drunk, but be a tortoise: There are no prizes for being the drunkest person at a wedding, just a whole lot of shame to be witnessed by two people’s extended families. I would recommend that you bring a flask to help you survive the ceremony, as well as meet someone of the opposite sex early on when you say, “Hey, I have alcohol in my crotch, wanna go drink it in the bushes?” You can ride that tiny buzz right into the cocktail party where you’ll be presented all the free drinks your mighty liver could ask for. That will keep going right through to dinner: as your wine glass is bottomless, followed by the real party when the dancing begins and ties become headbands and all the girls are in bare feet. Weddings are notorious for open bar disasters: remember an open bar is an alcohol slip ‘n’ slide that separates the men from the boys. So get drunk, go crazy, but be the tortoise, because the hare will do nothing but leave you with your hair dabbed into your dessert as you ward off the spins with a bottle of Merlot smeared across your white dress shirt.
Cocktail Face: The wedding game face is “the cocktail face”. It requires that you act happy and cherry like a blow-up doll with a smile on its face at all times. No matter how much dread it feeds you, you’re going to have to play the part today. You will have to small talk your way through that entire room and talk about things you don’t want to talk about, to people that you don’t care about. Put it this way: today you’re the salesman for happiness.
I’m single but not suicidal: If you’re single, be prepared to ward off the depression rumours. “Yes I’m single, but I promise you I’m not depressed.” People expect that weddings will inflate your single status to the point that getting drunk, stealing a limo, and driving off a bridge would hardly be viewed as obscene behaviour. So make sure you tell people (especially older generations) that your single status is by choice, and you stand by it as a proud declaration of your independence or career focus. Word to the wise: stay off all dating apps such as Tinder — there is nothing more gut-wrenchingly pathetic than Tinder’ing under the table during a newlywed couple’s first dance.
Couples under the microscope: If you go to a wedding with your girlfriend, be prepared that you’re going to be walking around under the microscope. It’ll be a game of twenty questions: “So how long have you been dating?” “So when are you going to propose? (Nudge, nudge)” Weddings are like a bullfight for couples, a stadium affair that is higher stakes than the Bachelorette finale — a place where only the strong ones survive. So put on your happy couple face and lollipop the sh*t out of that wedding, flaunting your happiness for all the old couple’s slow-beating hearts to melt away to. (Side Note: if the wedding is for someone in your girlfriend’s family, then you have to be prepared to climb your way up her entire family tree and meet people like her 92-year-old Bubby who just took a plane for the first time in 50 years from her native Ukraine with grace, confidence, and charisma. Always remember two things: tortoise and cocktail face).
Age gaps are abolished: Remember how Owen Wilson caught Rachel McAdams’ eye in Wedding Crashers? He danced with a child. That’s right. Dancing with children is not seen as predatory, in fact, it’s seen as cute and endearing. If you’re single and trying to make a splash with the opposite sex, then you need to either dance with children or old people. Going to opposite ends of the age spectrum is one of the quickest ways to make an impact on the female guests. The two-step strategy: befriending the tiny rug rag ring bearers is sex appeal dynamite and dancing with the bride’s grandmother is like smashing a giant piñata full of vag***.
Weddings are not matchmakers: Unfortunately, you’re not in a Hugh Grant movie and this is not some sort of quirky British comedy where you will fall in love with a girl from out of town at the cocktail party. A wedding does not guarantee girls on a silver platter, and just because you’re the best man, does not mean it’s predetermined that you will get to sleep with the maid of honour by some sort of hierarchical matchmaking system. In fact, so many of the girls that will be at the wedding will be there with their boyfriends, or worse, their fiancées. But on the upside, it will be very easy to tell which girls are single. That’s because their friends and family will be throwing them into the single person crossfire, pleading with you to date their daughter or their friend because she has absolutely “everything” in her life except a man.
The bride will be manic: Today is the day she’s been dreaming of since she was a little girl and her and the guy down the block would throw fake weddings in her backyard. In other words, she has been nervous sh**ting all day and her mood swings are more consistent than a pendulum ball. So be wary of her unpredictable behaviour. One minute she’ll be high as a kite on life, another she’ll be crying and blowing snot profusely from some cliché line her father spoke, and moments later she’ll be going straight for a karate chop to someone’s jugular for dipping their finger in the icing before they’ve even cut the cake. My advice is to say your congratulations early on and get out of her way. On her wedding day, she is like a fu**ing celebrity, everybody is trying to take her picture, talk to her, and tell her how damn gorgeous she looks. She’ll be so elated and high, as well as over-stimulated/annoyed that she probably won’t even remember that you were there.
I understand how another engagement update on social media makes most of us want to ‘unfriend’ even our closest of friends. It’s that age where weddings become prominent fixtures in our life and on our calendars. So we have no choice but to figure out how to survive them, and hopefully, now, we can do so with a few less forced smiles and a few more genuine ones.
Previously published on jamienrea.com
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