How to survive a wedding sans date.
We all love a good wedding. You get to wear a fancy dress, indulge in an open bar and do a variety of choreographed group dance moves that involve waving your arms over your head to form letters. But weddings can also be stressful. Stressful for the bride, the groom and their families, sure, but also for the guests — us single guests in particular.
Despite the stories/urban legends you hear about couples meeting and falling in love at weddings or the wild tales of drunken wedding night debaucheries, I think we can all agree no one wants to attend a formal event of any sort alone. Who wants to shell out a few hundred bucks for their own hotel room? Or relive high-school-dance awkwardness every time the band plays a slow song? Is that Rod Stewart? What a coincidence. I’ve suddenly realized that my bladder is full/glass is empty/I’ve taken up smoking. What’s that? I just missed the bouquet toss? How could I have missed such a fun and not-at-all humiliating opportunity to display the fact that I am alone?
Given budgets and venue constraints, the bride and groom sometimes have to make difficult and unpopular decisions surrounding their guest list, specifically regarding who is and who is not permitted a plus one. On a day when every detail is meticulously planned the presence — or absence — of those two words, “and guest,” on your invitation was no accident.
So what do you do when the ivory envelope arrives addressed solely to you, plus none? Or you just can’t find a date to fill that guest spot?
If you’re attending the wedding of a family member alone, accept the fact that you will be interrogated about the current status of your love life. If you’re fresh out of a break-up, you might be granted a reprieve, but in lieu of questioning, you’ll probably be given several love life pep talks. If you’re engaged, the topic of conversation will be your impending nuptials. If you’re married, they’ll ask when you plan on popping out babies. And if you have kids, you’ll be chasing them around trying not to get spit-up on your dress. As you can see, no one gets off easy at family parties, so relax and have a second piece of cake.
If you’re attending a colleague’s wedding, regardless of whether or not you have a date, you can assume you’ll be seated at the “work table” — the table designated for the cubicle cohorts you already spend 40-plus hours a week with. “Work table” sounds boring, like a spreadsheet, so I really hope you enjoy the company of your coworkers (even without the ability to send each other links to cat videos on YouTube). Since it’s generally unacceptable to get super drunk at a work-related function and/or make-out with a coworker, it’s OK to leave this type of wedding early. Eat dinner, say your congrats, have a drink and then get out of there.
This is a broader and more challenging category.
If you’re attending the wedding of a close friend with whom you share several mutual friends and you can’t bring/can’t find a date, you’re in luck. You most likely know the people you’ll be seated with, you won’t have to worry about introducing yourself to the point of exhaustion and you probably won’t need to splurge on a king-sized room for one. Have a few cocktails, dance like a fool and let your hair down for you are among friends.
On the other hand, if it’s a peripheral friend with whom you share no mutual friends, you seriously need to assess how much you like this person. I was invited to my old roommate’s wedding last November and asked myself: Do I really need to fly across the country, spend close to a $1,000 on hotels and airfare and face the potential awkwardness of not knowing anyone other than the bride and groom? Although I was invited to bring a guest (god bless the woman who doesn’t expect me to come to Houston alone), I decided to go solo.
I was single, but I wasn’t stupid. First, I did some research to find out if I knew anyone else who was attending the wedding and then I made contact with them via email/Facebook. Then I asked for a clarification on the dress code. What do you wear to a casual BBQ second reception? Then I sought advice on where to stay. Yes, there were suggestions on the website but I wanted to stay where the other people my age (aka “the cool crowd”) would be staying. Last, but certainly not least, I got my hair and makeup done professionally. Being single at a wedding can be tough and you deserve to look fantastic. This just might be the best $100 you ever spent. You won’t regret it, I promise.
THE EX FACTOR
In a most dreaded of the single-at-a-wedding scenarios, what if your ex is attending? With his new girlfriend. Oh, and he’s officiating. A close friend found herself in this situation this past September. After much back and forth, she ultimately decided not to attend. It was sad and we missed her dearly but it was the right decision for her. Whether you stubbornly forge ahead or regretfully decline the invitation, both choices are brave and both are OK. There are times we grin and bear it for our friends and times we honor ourselves, make the dreaded phone call and send a nice gift.