It’s no great mystery. Weddings, when single, are tough. It doesn’t matter how much you love the bride/groom, how glad you are to be there for their big day. They are just tough.
We singles will always be the ones that screw up the seating arrangement, or if we happen to be “cute enough”, will be accosted by drunken divorcees while dancing to Living on a Prayer (this has never happened to me, but others tell me it happens). We have already become experts at smiling in fake joy as all the couples join the newly-marrieds for that first dance. We know how to chat up every elderly relative in the room to pass the time. We have learned that drinking all the wine may seem fun at the time, but in fact, it multiplies the next morning’s “oh my god I am doomed to a life of eternal loneliness” effect by a factor of ten.
These are just a few of our tried and true coping strategies, and we singles are very good at them. But these can only get us so far. Because, after all, weddings are meant to celebrate coupledom, and when you’re not a couple…yeah, you get it.
However! I am happy to report that I, on my recent Berlin adventures, found a miraculous 5-step way to actually have a good time at a wedding. I know, right? After all these years. Who knew it was this easy?
- Make sure all the weddings you attend are in a foreign country, because then you, and most of your fellow guests, can all experience cultural awkwardness together. You’ll all be outsiders, which makes the rituals of the typical American wedding (the dance circle, the clinking of glasses for kisses, etc) strangely comforting to you (and probably bizarre to the natives). You will also know that everyone in the room really wants to be there, and there will be fun touristy things to do the next day. Plus, it’s more fun to try to find your way home afterward when the street signs are in another language.
- Make sure all the wedding ceremonies you attend are German, because they will be, if my recent experience is any indication, refreshingly matter-of-fact and unsentimental. You will basically watch the bride and groom sign their marriage papers, you’ll understand about 50% of the ceremony, and then you’ll have a party. No professions of love before God and family, none of that stuff that always makes you feel vaguely like you’re sinning by being single. And bonus! – the ceremonies are short. I think they could be livened up, though, if the bride/groom traded caps, like college football signing day.
- Bring your own camera, even though it’s a pain to haul it through airports, because you can use it to keep your hands busy, you can silently, with Nat-Geo style narration in your head, stalk the wedding photographer and steal their shots, and you can take pictures of flowers on the tables when you hit an inevitable lull in your wine buzz.
- Make sure you have least 3 other non-marrieds with you. This is key. This is everything. First because other non-marrieds will get how hard it is to watch all the love and companionship swirling around, and second, safety in numbers. After all, if there are just two of you, you endure they “are they now-or-will-they-be-a couple?” speculation (regardless of sex and sexual orientation), and we all know that 3 is a crowd. 4 is perfect. Enough personalities to keep the conversation interesting, enough bodies to have enough physical presence to confidently take over corners of the room, and even if 2 of your peeps leave the dance floor, you’re not left alone, gyrating to 80’s music in your uncomfortable shoes.
- And finally, speaking of shoes – wear comfortable ones. Remember that bit about finding your way home via unfamiliar street signs? That involves walking. And seriously, who the heck are you trying to impress with those 4-inch stilettos? It’s a pretty safe bet that you’re NOT going to meet the love of your life at a foreign wedding, and it’s not like you must be wearing fabulous heels when you meet said love of your life, anyway.
You might be thinking I’m cynical after reading this. You might think I’m just a bitter single who’s jealous of those who have found love. You’d be wrong. I want to love weddings. I want very much to leave them with hope for my future, and a belief in the power of love. And to be completely honest, all joking aside, this particular wedding was one of my favorites, due mostly to the coolness of the bride and how carefully and thoughtfully she planned the day. With her own mix of American/German efficiency, she took great care of us out-of-towners.
So, henceforth, all my weddings will be German and I will bring a posse of non-marrieds with me. And we will wear comfy shoes and take lots of pictures. Sounds easy enough to me.