How to survive a wedding when you’re single

 Weddings are a wonderful celebration of joy and commitment. But those who are single may find the contrast between the happy couple’s boundless joy and their own uncertain future a little stark.

If you are single at a wedding, you have only two options. You can either be the fun single friend/relative, or the sad one. That’s it. There is no middle ground. And trust me, it’s better to look like the life and soul of the party and be crying on the inside than to be looking like you’re on the verge of actually crying.

What’s more, weddings make the perfect stage for you not only to pretend that you’re coping, but to subtly remind all those in attendance that marrying means sacrificing some of the freewheeling awesomeness that swingin’ singles enjoy. And yes, this may involve faking it a bit. But we all do on big occasions – you don’t really think that every single twirling couple out there on the dancefloor has a happy marriages, do you?

With these tips in your pocket or handbag, you will not only survive somebody else’s wedding – but thrive. I advise you to laminate them so that your tears or nervous sweat won’t make the ink run.

1) Dress loud

My inclination when dressing for formal occasions is usually to go subtle. A dark suit, a white or light blue shirt and a restrained tie is how like to I roll. On women, I generally endorse simple, elegant dresses in black or a dark colour.

But when you’re single, that’s the wrong option. You want to communicate not only that you’re confident and awesome. Your job is to dress as the captain of the Fun Express, and suggest that anyone who’s not on board is missing out. You want everyone to be thinking not only “how on earth are they still single?”, but “I bet they know where the best after-party is.”

I’m not saying go garish. Flashing or spinning bow ties are out, and especially one that does both. But if you’re a guy, why not consider a pink or lemon shirt, or a loud tie, or perhaps a jaunty hat? Dressing overly formal can work, like full tux regalia or perhaps even tails, or you might like to go jauntily casual with an open collar, or perhaps trainers instead of leather shoes?

For the ladies, I reckon a bit of colour. Crimson, perhaps, or maybe even a bright orange or yellow? If you’re going floral, make it tropical. Steer clear of blues and greens – too conservative. There’ll be plenty of time to wear your duller outfits when you’re in a relationship.

2) Pre-prepare your small talk

I don’t mean in some strange psycho antisocial way. I just mean that you will constantly be required to summarise what you’re up to in fifteen seconds or less, so for heaven’s sake figure out how to make your life seem awesome, even if it isn’t. It’s a little thing called “marketing”. If you’re completely stuck, say you’re either saving up for a big trip around the world, or writing a novel but can’t tell them what it’s about in much detail just yet. Both of those claims are not only excellent conversation-starters, but impossible to disprove.

 3) Stay sober

There’s nothing sadder at a wedding than a single who writes themselves off. Sure, people may wonder whether you were secretly in love with the groom or something romantic and doomed like that, but to lose control is to concede defeat in the mission of emerging from the wedding with pride. The other great thing about keeping sober is that it will reduce the chance of you sobbing and hitting on the bride’s mother.

4) Own the dancefloor

This one is really important. If you can’t dance, dance ironically; it’s fine. If you feel self-conscious, have a cheeky vodka shot before you go out there. (Note Tip #3.) Dancing is a wonderful way of subtly hint to all the couples in attendance that your life is better than theirs, because you regularly go out dancing when they don’t. For them, this is an exciting night out, but for you, it’s just another Saturday spent as King or Queen of the dancefloor. And I say this as somebody who spent the whole of his teenage years doing this – do not linger on the side of the dancefloor. Nobody bothers to water a wallflower.

5) Hook up

Look, why not, if the option’s there? Just make sure neither of you’s too drunk, so it doesn’t look desperate. In particular, dancefloor pashes are to be avoided – very undignified at your age. (See Tip #3 again.) I guarantee that anyone who’s married will, on some level, be slightly jealous that you’re still able to get action on a whim.

6) Avoid people with whom you’ve had history

Here’s the caveat to Tip #5: do not hook up with exes, for heaven’s sake. Weddings heighten your emotions, and that makes it more likely that you’ll consider going back somewhere that you sensibly decided you didn’t want to be.

 I’d steer clear of former crushes who once rejected you as well – you might discover that you’re not as over them as you thought. Although, by all means hook up – it’s a belated victory!

 Weddings are not a good time to take stock of one’s life. You might be entirely happy with the decisions you’ve made under most circumstances, but everybody wants to be clutching somebody’s hand when the bride and groom make their vows, in the same way that everyone wants to kiss somebody on New Year’s Eve. These events can be an emotional minefield, so for heaven’s sake, stay away from mines.

7) Be almost the last to leave

You’re single, so you’re a rager, right? And the last few hours of weddings are almost always the most fun, especially if you’re relatively sober and in a position to laugh at everyone else. (Tip #3 vindicated again!) But make sure you aren’t the last person out the door, and have to be evicted by a bride or groom feigning yawns, because that will only reveal that you’re trying to put off the moment when, after a day of more company than you know what to do with, you’re alone again.

When you do finally leave, always say you’ve got another party to go to, and invite other non-single people to come with. They will inevitably say no, both because they won’t be allowed by their partner, and because all of the romance of the day has probably put them in the mood for a spot of the ol’ shagging. If for some reason they say yes, note that their relationship might be on the rocks just in case you’re interested, and then pretend to text a friend, only to “discover” that it’s an extremely exclusive party and you aren’t able to bring plus-ones. Then suggest a drink elsewhere. Maybe back at yours…

In summary, your job is to lift everyone’s mood, not kill it. And who knows, perhaps you’ll do such a great job that you’ll impress another lonely single and end up with a wedding of your own? Let’s not kid ourselves, you almost certainly won’t. But hey – what is a wedding for if not blind optimism in the face of depressing statistical reality?


Good luck, and remember – if you’re single, mingle!

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