Today it is more and more acceptable to do things solo. I’m all for taking in a Saturday matinee (by yourself), having a good cup of coffee (by yourself), or participating in the newest workout craze (by yourself), but one place that being by yourself isn’t the greatest…is a party.
This past weekend one of my good friends got married. I love her and I wanted to share in the moment, but I also knew that while she and I had overlapped in various life spaces throughout the years, I would likely not know another soul at this event…and I was right.
When I got to the ceremony, I did a cursory glance over the guests, hoping there would be one familiar face, and yet it was only a sea of strangers. After the couple exchanged “I Do’s”, I quietly snuck out the chapel door and made my way home. During the time between the ceremony and reception, I contemplated ditching the party portion to avoid awkwardly staring at my phone for 5 hours, but decided the idea of my abandoned place card was more depressing, and also insulting. So I put my shoes back on, took a deep breath and decided it was now or never to suddenly transform from an introverted caterpillar, to an extroverted social butterfly.
After a slightly awkward first few minutes (ok hour), I survived the event, ended up having a pretty great time, and ultimate am glad that I didn’t miss this moment.
If you find yourself facing the daunting prospect of attending a wedding solo, here’s 5 tips to get you through the big day and night, and come out smiling on the other side.
1. Don’t Show Up Too Early
If you don’t know anyone else, the cocktail hour can be especially brutal. It’s an hour or so, where you have to make small talk, but there’s not much to talk about, and trying to use your best Pick-Up Artist lines to open a set of people huddled around a high-top table, isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If you’re already more comfortable making small talk with strangers (um, why are you reading this?) than this probably isn’t an issue, but if you’re like me, this hour is the worst, so by all means, avoid it. If it starts at 5, don’t get there until about 5:40. This cuts down on the amount of awkward alone time, but still gives you time to get one drink, and meet and greet with the Bride and Groom. Plus, anyone can pull off the “oh I’m waiting for someone look” for roughly 20 minutes until you can get into the reception hall.
2. Keep the Drink Count to a Minimum
Speaking of drinks…this should go without saying in general, but especially if you’re riding solo, keep the drink count low. It might be tempting to get through the awkwardness, by doing multiple consecutive tequila shots and chasing them with wine, but this will only backfire. Not only will you likely make a fool of yourself, but any potential temporary friends won’t want to be seen with you, and you’ll end up regretting everything in the morning. There’s also a good chance you won’t remember the event, which defeats the entire purpose of going to begin with.
3. Acknowledge Your Solo-ness
Once you get to the table, or if you manage to strike up conversation with some randos before hand, don’t be ashamed to admit that you’re by yourself and know no one. People love a charity case, and also there’s something endearing and sweet about someone braving a wedding by themselves. Plus it’s honest. Pretending your boyfriend is “parking the car” will only get you so far, and at some point, people will stop updating their Instagram, so you’ll have to talk to someone. Better to do it at the beginning, than awkwardly after everyone has defined their group for the night.
4. Ask the People at Your Table Questions
Believe it or not, everyone likes to talk about themselves. They like to talk about their job, or their family, or their dog, or what they ate for breakfast, or how their flight was, or pretty much anything they are doing. So if you’re stumped for conversation starters with the people you’ve found yourself breaking bread with, start with them. It’s likely once they start talking you’ll find something you have in common, and then an entire conversation will be born. Bonus points if you’re a local and they’re visiting…the “what have you done since you’ve been here?” question always is a big hit and it’s probable that you too have hiked up that mountain at some point in your life.
5. Remember: You Might Not Think You Have Anything In Common But….
You’re all there for the same reason….the couple. You all know the same people, and you’re all supporting them as they take this big next step in life, and you can talk about them. You can talk about the ceremony, you can play your own version of 4 Weddings (“I give this wedding a 5 because the wine was chilled, but not chilled to the amount I like”) or you can just share memories of how you know the bride or groom, and what they mean to you. Worst case scenario talk about the plates or the flowers, the food or the music, or what crazy uncle Larry is saying in his speech. You’ve all a member of group now, and you all now have that in common.
So there you have it. Don’t forget to have fun, bust out your best dance moves, and good luck as you venture into the awkward space of a wedding solo. And remember, if it’s completely unbearable, stick it out for the cake and you can always slip out the side door.