May. The start of full-frontal ‘wedding season’.
‘How many weddings have you got this year?’ is now a recurring question . For years I was in a non-wedding vacuum, twirling my hair naively at the question ‘Oh me? My friends don’t seem to be the marrying type‘. But suddenly its GONE NUTS. I’ve got four weddings this year, and four next (at last count).
For such fundamentally happy occasions, I find there is always an ‘undertone’ to the conversation topic. Whether its the cost (£351.38 on average to attend a wedding now apparently); the fatigue (ever steel yourself at the thought of a flush of weddings?) or the social pressure to get married yourself (that line of questioning every unmarried person dreads…). Its also tough on the bride and groom – trying to keep everyone happy while also planning the best day of your life is a proper head wreck.
I don’t mean to be a fun sponge. I love a good wedding and there is something truly amazing about watching your friends say those magic words…’Free bar’. (I mean – where did you think I was going..?). But seriously what is not to love? The romanticism and the outfits, the flowers and the champagne, the dancing and the wonderful sense of everything being right with the world. And then the hilarious unraveling of the formality, as the heels and the ties slip off, and drink and speeches flush the truth out of people. I vividly remember attending my second cousins wedding when I was younger and my Dad leaning over to me and saying, after the first dance started, ‘well there you have it, the great British wedding – they are all pretty much the same, you’ll see that soon’.
But if you are going to a wedding on your own – and by that I mean not just without a plus one, but without really knowing any other guests – it can be properly nerve-wracking. I’ve been there. This weekend actually, when I attended an old friend’s wedding back home in the North West. Of course, there can also be something amazing about it – you are ‘off the grid’ and being out of your comfort zone can mean you push yourself to meet more people and have a surprisingly brilliant time. (The case most definitely this weekend for me).
Over the last couple of years I think I’ve earned my wedding stripes. I’ve come so far from the days of not realising you’re supposed to buy a card, to having a pretty rock-solid wedding survival strategy:
- Eat Breakfast. Always. With extra carbs. I learned the hard way and once raced to a petrol station to buy a ginsters (ugh) after finding out dinner wasn’t until 3pm
- Take change for the collection. Otherwise you might be embarrassed into donating a tenner (the horror).
- Find out what colour/style the bridesmaids are wearing. If you can, there’s nothing better for making you feel morbidly self-conscious.
- Wear an old or unusual dress to prevent an ‘outfit clash shocker’. Avoiding Reiss, Whistles and LK Bennet helps!
- Plan for extreme weather. Take a nice jacket, wear a bra and have a back-up scarf. Its Britain and bound to be freezing, but couples always (understandably) want photos and receptions outside.
- Get a shellac mani-pedi (ladies) Shellac lasts at least 2-3 weeks without chipping and can get you through several weddings, so pretty good value.
- Charge your phone then turn it off until after the speeches. Otherwise you’ll risk documenting everything but seeing nothing and having your phone go off mid ‘Does anyone see any just impediment…’
- Scout out the canapes. Make friends with the waiters and stand near the door. Canapes are crucial to avoid a rush of wine to the head ( I am also just obsessed with them)
- Pace yourself with the fizz. You’re aiming for the sweet spot when you are totally at ease and at your most dazzling, but not letting of the handbreak off for a bar fight. That said…
- Say yes to shots. One or two will make it easier to get on the dance floor if you know no one. You just won’t give a crap.
- Have a killer question. when circulating with strangers, you risk trading awkward, generic questions or being ‘frozen out’ by people who would rather talk to each other. While it is massively lame to ‘plan’ conversation I’ve come to realise you need some lines in the locker to bust through small talk. I find asking after what is genuinely interesting about people’s jobs – ‘What’s the worst XZY you’ve seen in your line of work’ – works for pretty much anyone – from barristers to bar managers.
- Prepare your reactive line. Dreading being asked why you’re single? Or if you’re planning kids yet? Or anything else you which is somehow topical enough to be acceptable at a wedding. Just plan your polite ‘close down’ sentence beforehand so you don’t end up bumbling and annoyed.
- Take drugs. I mean paracetamol, hay-fever tablets, blister plasters. Safety-pins. Someone always needs them.
- Avoid the post-lunch slump. You’ve traveled hours into the English countryside, socialised to the point of exhaustion and consumed enough wine and trans-fats to ban you from operating heavy machinery, but instead of having a power nap you need to bring your A-game on the dance flour for another six hours. Hardened wedding guests take energy shots in their clutch-bags and pass them around like crack.
- Find a quiet space. Weddings are intense. Find somewhere to take time out – multi-cubicle toilets are naturally brilliant for this kind of escapism
- Figure out who the perverts are and avoid them. Single or not, solo wedding guests are always considered fair game, so chances are you’ll get your arse grabbed by a sleaze later. But people love being asked to identify sleazes in advance. Its great fun and they never realise you’re serious.
- Get your camera out at the end. The photographer has gone home but there could be some lovely or just amazingly drunken shots of people that the bride and groom would love to have
- Book a taxi in advance. Don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere.
- Don’t forget to thank the parents. Not enough people remember.
- Pick the weddings you attend carefully. If you honestly know no one that well – including the bride and groom – and you’re dreading it to the point you’ve got the shakes, life is too short and I think it is acceptable to ask yourself the question – do I really need to go? I’ve been told by experienced seasoners that weddings in the middle of nowhere, when you are only invited to the night do and know completely no one are the ones to avoid, unless you are massively backing yourself.
Have fun x