You’re a plus-one. Your counterpart is in the wedding. You got invited because you recently became work-besties despite only knowing each other for a few weeks. It doesn’t matter – you’ve found yourself at a wedding where you’re surrounded by a bunch of unfamiliar faces. You don’t know a soul and everyone can tell. You’re scared.
Weddings are intimidating because you’re only there for one of these three reasons: you’re friends with the bride or groom, you’re related to the bride or groom, or you’re in a relationship with someone who is one of the above. Which is why you need to take the correct measures if you’re going to dominate this thing rather than stand on the fringe like you’re a middle schooler praying the pretty girl will ask him to dance. That’s never going to happen unless you take matters into your own hands.
I. Booze before you schmooze.
“Drinking free champagne” is the slutty sister to “working the room,” and you’re not going to impress anyone if you’re sipping soda waters hoping not to offend anyone with an off-color story. Do you really want to be the person people are side-eyeing and whispering “Why aren’t they drinking?” or do you want to be the person getting asked, “Whaddya say you and I go grab a drink and talk outside over cigars?” That’s what I thought.
I’m not saying you need to be sitting on the edge of a pew at the church sipping out of a flask and checking your watch. But I am saying that carrying a slight buzz around a country club never hurt anyone in the long run. Last time I checked, most country clubs have a “Must Be .03 To Enter” policy anyway (or at least that’s what my mom told me when she’d drop me off at the golf course with a roadie of wine in tow).
Much like the bride and groom have their signature cocktails, you need to find your signature cocktail. I could give you the dangers of drinking scotch neat all night and tell you to stick to drinks mixed with soda, but if you don’t already know those dangers then you need to be knocked down a few pegs as it is. Coast on clear, black out on brown, cheers on champ. Wash, rinse, repeat.
II. Work the room; don’t let the room work you.
First comes booze, then comes schmooze – they’re a match made in Heaven minus the fact that I just referred to champagne being “the slutty sister” to schmoozing. If you think you’re going to win over any friends with your typical LinkedIn “What do you do for work?” questions, you deserve to get blown off by the bride’s half-sister who stood at the end of the bridesmaid line during the ceremony. Don’t be a doorknob who limits themselves to talking shop.
Did you take a ten-day vacation to Martha’s Vineyard once? Awesome, tell someone about that time you “summered” there. Did you meet one of the dudes on last season’s Bachelorette at a club last year? Great, you officially tell everyone that you “had a little thing” with him. Recently lose your job? Perfect – you’re knee-deep in “funemployment” which is code for “I’m rich enough to not need an actual career.” Money talks (even if you don’t have any).
You can look at this as “lying” or having sociopathic tendencies, but me? I’m looking at it as being interesting. You’ll probably never see these people again, and if you do, it’ll be at yet another wedding they’ll barely remember.
III. Make the important friends.
Buddying up with the plus-one of another person who happens to be in the wedding party is like a lion attacking an injured gazelle. It’s low-hanging fruit that will never let you max out on fun.
If you spot the bride’s father who you only recognize because of when he brought her down the aisle hours before, shake that man’s hand and hit him with a “beautiful ceremony, sir.” Should you find yourself watching the couple’s first dance next to the groom’s grandmother, you best be leading her out onto the dance floor when the Ed Sheeran turns off and the Van Morrison turns on. If a bridesmaid falls into your lap (literally or figuratively), turn your inner Jeremy Grey on and carry it through the night.
Just avoid the one who was clearly asked to be in the wedding party because they were childhood camp friends or because the bride was in her wedding. The newer the friend, the better – you have to strike while the coals are scorching hot, carry them through the night, and light everyone’s sparklers with them. Being cool by association is still being cool.
IV. Own the dance floor.
If you’re afraid to dance in front of a bunch of people you don’t know, pack up your things and call an Uber. You don’t need a repertoire of killer dance moves; just one staple move that people will see, mimic, and do towards you the rest of the night. Everyone wants to be friends with the person who’s cutting a rug and literally dancing like no one’s watching.
The second you hear the wedding band playing “Shout,” you need to swallow your pride and accept the fact that your rented tux is about to get ruined because you’re rolling around on the ground. All is fair in love and dance floors so it’s time to do your best Frank Gallagher impression and be shameless. Remember: no one fucking knows you so you might as well go for it.
Should you start sweating profusely? Take a breather, get a rag from the bathroom attendant, rinse in some champagne, and get right back out there once you’ve cooled down.
V. Make it an inside job.
It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Yeah, you’ve already dazzled the grandma and impressed the father-of-the-bride. But now it’s time to find someone on the inside.
The second you walk up to the bar and order your first cocktail, drop a twenty in their jar and make eye contact with the bartender before dropping a compliment on them. Bartenders remember only the following people: the bride, the groom, the wedding party, the parents, and anyone who’s kind enough to throw them a little extra coin at a bar that’s been widely accepted as being free.
Once you make friends with the barkeep, you’re getting preference and they’re going to be willing to pour you tequila-rocks in place of shots. Meanwhile, because you’ve already buddied up with the lead singer of the band during the break, he’s going to point at you during their rendition of “24K Magic” and make you the star of the show. The only reason Bruno’s a dangerous man with some money in his pocket is because he’s actually willing to spend that money, not cling to it just because a bar is open.
VI. Say cheese.
Photo booths are for losers who don’t know anyone. Yeah, you can take a photo of your booth picture and toss it on Instagram for the likes. And sure, it’s fun to put on a sailor’s hat and make a goofy face. But the real all-stars of the wedding are the ones who make their presence known by dipping into every photo possible. This means your attendance is required at every event – the cake cutting, the dance floor, the father-daughter dance (front row), and the end of the line when they’re making their grand exit.
Once your presence is known in the most important photos? Well, you’ll be the guy at the next wedding saying, “Whaddya say you and I go grab a drink and talk outside over cigars?” .