Oh, June. Remember when you could barely contain your excitement about the start of summer? So do we! So when did those days spent poolside deciding what ice cream flavor to enjoy turn suddenly into days spent trucking to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy an ice cream maker… for someone else?
Forget baseball; for those of you in the Bridal Wave, this time of the year means the kickoff of America’s other
favorite pastime: wedding season. If this is the year all your friends are decamping to Club Wed, you’re going to need a game plan. Below, we share a playbook for getting through the next few months keeping your single self feeling happy and self-fulfilled — in spite of all the brides bustling around you.
Know that you don’t have to attend every celebration
Pencil in all the dates on your calendar early, and then step back and evaluate your weekends. If you find you are booked nearly back to back with bachelor/ettes, wedding showers and big days, consider sending in a few “regretfully declines.” (Just because you’re invited to your second cousin’s wedding in Boise, Idaho doesn’t mean you have to go.) Here are some helpful guidelines to follow:
1. A-team only
— If you didn’t get a save-the-date card and your invite shows up within a month of the grand celebration, chances are, you’re a B- or C-lister. Save the weekend for yourself by claiming prior commitments.
2. The obligatory invite
— Are you someone’s boss? Do you suspect someone forced the B2B (bride to be) or groom to invite you? Do everyone a favor and decline.
3. Away games
— The increasingly popular destination wedding is often an “un-vitation.” The couple wants a small affair, so help them make it just that — or, if you do show up, stay for an entire week, have a friend meet you there and turn it into a worthwhile vacation for yourself.
Scout out a wedding buddy
If you’ll be hitting a wedding solo, recruit a pal as early in the process as possible from the guest pool. (Hint: At the engagement party, this will be the person in the corner looking like he or she is having as much fun as you are.) Wedding-buddy duties include sharing gag-me looks at the shower, having a ball on the dance floor together and saving each other from some overly touchy-feely guest at the reception. Another buddy benefit? You will have someone to split expenses with if the wedding is in St. Bart’s.
Don’t drag along a mediocre date
Just because your invite included a “plus one” for a date doesn’t mean you should necessarily bring one. Leave so-so prospects in the wings where they belong (even though they can be quite tempting when you’re feeling particularly lonely or bummed about your single status), because bringing someone will only give your friends false hope that you’ll be engaged next — and will make you look taken in a sea of possible dance partners. The same is true for your on/off ex (the person you keep getting back together with). You might have a great night and contemplate giving this person another chance, but you already know how it is going to end: your date will simply do that thing that drives you crazy and you’ll break up. Again.
Let an in-the-know guest hook you up
Get the lowdown on who’s available and worth your time on the dance floor from an in-the-know attendant or the happy couple themselves at one of the pre-ceremony events. There’s nothing that makes the almost-married happier than having a hand in coupling up their single friends (except for maybe landing one of those big-ticket registry items). Bonus: Don’t restrict your flirting to the guest list. The band, the bartender and the wait staff are all fair game.
Treat yourself so you’ll feel sexy and confident
Buy a flattering new suit or dress, belt out your favorite song or borrow your best friend’s snazzy shoes — whatever it takes for you to walk into the reception looking and feeling your best. You are in control of how much fun you have in nearly every situation. Go in thinking you are going to have a terrible time, and you probably will. And remember, happy people are attractive people. Who knows, that person behind you in the conga line could be your next date…
Avoid common danger zones
Until the cake has been cut (and you should stay at least till then), myriad pitfalls await you. Three to prepare for might include:
1. The league of concerned citizens.
Nosy relatives (and even complete strangers) will ask about your relationship status. The best way to avoid them? Stick to the dance floor! The electric slide may not be your favorite, but it’s better than launching into a lengthy discussion about your love life with someone’s great-aunt Edna.
2. “Calling all singles…”
As soon as word of the bouquet/garter toss spreads through the crowd, step outside for some air or head to the bathroom; just do whatever it takes to avoid the awkward moment when you either catch the object being thrown and face the nosy relatives all over again, or miss it and have them make jokes about how the small child who caught it will probably beat you to the altar.
3. Emotional overload.
Nothing says “wedding panic” like letting your inner insecurities out for a day. Today is not about you, and nobody is going to hit on you if you stand in the corner looking stricken. And be make sure to eat your free dinner and/or slice of cake!
Find your own fun
If all that talk of love and luck and couples being “meant to be” is still getting under your skin, entertain yourself with a distraction, like picking out who will end the night in a scene-making fight or estimating how long it will be before the groom’s uncle realizes that he lost his toupee mid-Macarena. No one said the conversation has to hover around the wedded couple’s impending honeymoon, how happy they look or their post-marriage plans to buy a home and have kids. In fact, some people will be dying for a refreshing subject change.
Ward off the post-wedding blues
A weekend spent celebrating someone’s wedded bliss while you go home alone can send you into a downward spiral of self-doubt and recrimination. Preempt a sad day spent thinking What’s wrong with me?
and Maybe I should have given my ex another chance
by having plans with your most upbeat friend to keep you busy. Have a decadent lunch, go on a hike, exercise... you get the idea. In other words, revel in your freedom. Not convinced? Rent Little Children, We Don’t Live Here Anymore
or another movie about miserable marriages, and then realize that marriage doesn’t necessarily make everyone happy.
The thing is, you never know when your single days will end, so enjoy them while you can. There are tons of married people who would kill to be as free and breezy as you are. Justify their jealousy by making the most of your single status!
Erin Torneo and Valerie Cabrera Krause are co-authors of the book, The Bridal Wave: A Survival Guide to the Everyone-I-Know-is-Getting-Married Years. They can be reached through their website, www.thebridalwave.com.