If you’re around, oh, 28 or so (22, if you’re from the South), you may even have 5-7 wedding invites you’re wading through this summer (10 or more if you’re Mormon). And with tight budgets, limited vacation time, and issues with fellow guests, to say nothing of the state of your own personal relationship (or lack thereof), other people’s weddings may be your own private battleground. So after the jump, 25 tips for surviving the season with your sanity, heart, wallet and pride still intact.
1. Do say no (but do so graciously). Whether it’s to a request to be a bridesmaid or to an invitation to a destination wedding you can’t afford, it’s ok to say no. But be gracious and timely and definitive. “Your wedding in Tuscany sounds amazing and I’m honored to have been invited, but, sadly, I won’t be able to attend. I’ll be thinking of you on your special day, and I can’t wait to see the photos!”
2. Do send an RSVP ASAP. Those RSVP cards were sent for a reason, and, as soon as you know whether you’ll be attending the wedding or not (and if you’ll bring a plus one), send the card back so the couple can have a head count for the caterer.
3. Don’t change your RSVP once it’s been given. Seriously, unless there are extenuating circumstances, it’s a total dick move to change your status of attendance once you have already been accounted – and likely paid – for. If you gave a Yes and, due to circumstances beyond your control, can no longer go, send a hand-written note of apology as well as a nice gift.
4. Do set a budget and stick to it. Decide what you can afford on travel costs, attire, and gifts, and don’t go over! No one who truly cares about you wants you breaking your budget to attend her wedding, and, if she doesn’t care for you, why would you want to overspend on her anyway?
5. Do introduce yourself to your tablemates (if you don’t already know them) and ask how they know the bride and groom (or bride and bride or groom and groom).
6. Do connect with other guests you know before the wedding and discuss carpooling.
7. Don’t wear brand new shoes.
8. Don’t be the drunkest person at the wedding. If you can’t figure out who the drunkest person is, then it’s probably you and you need to quit drinking.
9. Do flirt with other single people if you’re single too. One of the best things about being single is flirting with people at a wedding. Everyone is socially lubricated, high on love, looking their best, and feeling friendly, so live it up!
10. Don’t bring someone you don’t know very well. Avoid the temptation of having a date, any date, and go alone if your only other option is to invite a near stranger. Weddings make awkward first (or second) dates. Plus, it’s more fun to flirt with other single guests than to have the pressure of ensuring a decent time for someone you’ve dragged with you just so you don’t have to be alone.
11. Do ask a member of the wedding party if you can help with anything (monitoring the gift table, taking photos, passing around the guest book) if you are sans date or want to avoid your tablemates for whatever reason and want an instant ice breaker with other guests.
12. Don’t get your feelings hurt if the bride and groom don’t spend time with you. They may have about five minutes they can spend with each of their guests, some of whom they haven’t seen in ages. Connect with them after the honeymoon when their focus isn’t so scattered.
13. Do introduce yourself to the parents of the couple and tell them how you know their kids. Parents love that shit and it makes you look classy.
14. Don’t make an unplanned toast, especially if you’re drunk.
15. If you plan to make a toast, write it down and practice it beforehand. Make sure it’s about the couple and not just the half of the couple you know best.
16. Don’t wear anything that’s too small or shows too much cleavage. If in doubt, err on the side of being too conservative.
17. Don’t post unflattering wedding photos on Facebook. Better still, make sure the bride and groom are ok with people sharing pictures of their wedding on social media before you post away.
18. Don’t live-tweet the event.
19. Do wear Spanx if it makes you feel more confident.
20. Don’t trim your own bangs less than a week before the wedding. In fact, don’t trim them yourself at all.
21. Do remember the golden rules (of an open bar): one glass of water for every serving of alcohol; and tip the bartender.
22. Don’t gossip about other guests with people at the wedding. They may be within earshot, or word may get back to them.
23. Do wear a favorite dress to more than one wedding if there aren’t overlaps in the guests.
24. Don’t make a scene if you see an ex or someone you are estranged from. Be a mature person, smile, say “How do you do?” and go on your merry way. (Do look like a million bucks, though).
25. Don’t measure yourself against someone else’s wedding or marital status. Just because you are (fill-in-the-blank) years old and still single doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you’re doomed to a lifetime of loneliness. Focus instead on the positive feelings and memories you have of the bride and groom and on the delicious anticipation to be had in a life unfolding.