I have been to many weddings by myself, usually in Virginia or my hometown in Maryland.
Wedding planners call me a “single.” Even when I’m attached in life, I’m usually invited to weddings alone because I’m unmarried, which means that I’m the ninth person at a table for eight, the weird bridesmaid who sways back and forth near the dance floor because she doesn’t know what to do during the slow songs, and the guest who doesn’t know where to point her glass when it’s time to make a toast.
Being a single isn’t such a bad thing. Sometimes single wedding guests have more fun than the bride and groom. (My single experiences at weddings inspired my first novel, which is set in Maryland and called – you guessed it -- “The Singles.”)
After many years of mastering the art of being single at summer ceremonies, I’ve come up with a list of ways to make the experience easier.
1. Stay with the Group.
Don’t stay in some inferior hotel down the street just because you’re alone. You want to be in the know for after-parties, bar gatherings, and carpools. Stay near the bridal party so that you keep yourself from being excluded.
Don’t skip the meals. Find the cake. Don’t deny yourself.
3. Don’t Be Cheap.
Get a nice hotel room. Don’t bunk with people you don’t know. You need your own space — you should treat the wedding like a single person’s vacation.
4. Show up in pictures.
You’re a part of this moment, so make it known. Jump into group photos. Find the photographer on the dance floor. Don’t be shy.
5. Table hop.
If you’re at the wrong table, find a new one. Most of these tables are filled with people who are meeting each other for the first time. These folks might as well meet you, too.
If you’re losing your mind and feel aimless by yourself, take some extra pictures for the bride. Snap some cell phone shots and send them to her later. Consider yourself a volunteer archivist.
7. Take in the sights.
Visit at least one tourist attraction near the wedding site. Get something cultural out of the experience, even if it’s just trying a new restaurant or taking a long walk. (I’ve had plenty of good ones in Annapolis.)
8. Don’t overthink it.
Don’t assume that everyone who’s coupled at a wedding is happier than you are. Weddings are not symbolic of anything besides the intentions of the bride and groom. The wedding doesn’t mean anything about your life and where you should be.
9. Try a new outfit.
If you’re among strangers, test that new dress or suit. Try a cool tie. It’s a good time to experiment.
10.Ask one person to dance.
You can do it. It’s so much easier to ask a stranger for a dance at a wedding than it is at a club. It’s a safe space. Be bold.
11. Play with the kids.
Single guests can keep busy with this task, and frankly, if we’ve learned anything from “Wedding Crashers” (another Maryland story!), it’s that playing with kids makes us look attractive to others.
12. Get yourself adopted.
Find a couple who wants to take you around and introduce you to people. Don’t feel patronized. Just find a cool twosome and let them lead the way. It’s their duty.
Meredith Goldstein is a Highland, Md. native and the author of the new novel, “The Singles,” which follows five date-less guests at an Annapolis wedding.
Have any tips for going stag at a wedding that you’ve picked up along the way? Share them with other readers in the comments section.