With Valentine's Day in the rearview mirror and springtime right around the corner, there's a certain scent in the air.
It's the smell of open bars, overpriced catering, decaying flowers, and the salty tears of lifelong bridesmaids. That's right. It's the start of the Valley's early wedding season.
Since we all have that one (or six) wedding(s) to go to in the next few of months, and there's nothing more awkward than being a date to a wedding where you won't know anyone, here are 10 guidelines for being an appropriate wedding date.
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10. Dress appropriately.
First impressions count for a lot, particularly when you may never get a second one. The first thing anyone is going to notice is what you look like, so you should do your best to look both nice and appropriate for the occasion. You're going to look out of place if you wear a full gown to the beach or a Hawaiian shirt to a black-tie event. If you're going to a wedding with a steampunk bridal party, then it's best to grab your top hat and aviator goggles and join in on the fun.
9. Eat your food.
What's worse than paying thousands of dollars to have your wedding catered? Paying thousands of dollars to have your wedding catered and people not eating. It doesn't matter if you're downing full meals from the finest chefs or appetizers that taste like they were made in a high school cafeteria, you should eat. We're not saying you need to ruin your diet, but take the majority of the meal off of your plate, and no one will feel put out by your lack of hunger.
8. Get to know your date beforehand.
Sometimes you get brought to a wedding just so the person you're with won't have to go alone. It might be a strange first date, but it's not out of the question to be asked to attend a wedding with someone whom you don't know that well. One of the keys to making sure the event goes smoothly is to make sure you know the person whose date you are before you go. That may sound stupid, but you'd be surprised how many people are willing to take a date they've never spent time with before just so they don't have to roll solo to a wedding. Even if it's just via text (or Tinder message), take the time to learn about the person who you're about to spend the evening with, because otherwise it'll be like going on a potentially awkward first date in a very public setting.
Regardless of the type of wedding, there are a few things you can count on: flowers, inappropriately drunk family members, and dancing. Unless you're highly allergic to floral displays, the first shouldn't matter much. Inebriated aunts, uncles, and grandparents aren't avoidable, so just do your best coping with that one. Dancing, on the other hand, is something you can choose to do (or avoid like the plague). In the setting of most weddings, there is only one option. It's bad enough to be the person who no one knows at a wedding. Don't be the stranger and the person who won't dance at the same time. Just trust us, no one wants to be that person or hang out with that person. Even if you're a terrible dancer, there's surely a grandparent (or a grandchild) who's a far worse dancer than you could ever be.
6. Don't drink too much.
It's not much fun to be sober at a wedding, especially if there's an open bar. That said, just because you can start doing shots doesn't mean you should be partying hard before the couple exchanges vows. It's better to be a little too sober than a little too drunk when meeting the family and friends of your date (or of the bride and groom), so pace yourself on the drinking. If everyone else is hammered, you'll look like the smart one if you're only on a steady buzz, but no one will forget it if you're the one who ends up a drink (or five) ahead of everyone else at the party.
5. Arrive early.
This one applies twice for wedding dates. Not only should you get to the wedding with plenty of time, but you should always make sure you're ready a little before your date told you to be, just in case they're running early. While it's no fun to be one of the first people at the party, it's a whole lot better than rushing in as the bride is walking down the aisle. Aside from frustrating the bridal party and the rest of the wedding's attendees, making your date late for the wedding of someone important to them is a surefire way to start problems in that fledgling relationship.
4. Play it conservatively.
There are times to speak your mind on controversial topics, and there are times to shut your mouth and smile. If you're a plus-one at a wedding, that almost always falls into the latter category. You don't have to agree with everything that everyone says to you, but maybe it's not the time to bring up your love of meninism, your fiery hatred of Beyonce, or why Fidel Castro is a better leader than any recent president. You don't necessarily have to stick to surface-level conversations, but try not to stray too far away from the group's popular opinions. It's just not the place and time to get into a political debate. Save that for the drunken after-party in the hotel room.
3. Be appreciative.
If someone's bringing you to a wedding, they probably (at least think they) like you at least a little. Also, you're probably getting free food, some free drinks, and an entire evening full of entertaining for the price of acting as some arm candy. The least you can do is appreciate the gesture and embrace the moment. Don't act bratty because the conversation isn't the best or the cover band doesn't sound a thing like the actual songs. Enjoy the wedding, make the best of the situation, and act like a decent human being. You won't regret it, and you might actually have fun.
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So maybe the people at the wedding aren't the types of folks you'd want to hang out with every week. That's all right, because you'll maybe never have to see them again. Weddings are perfect places to try out new lines in conversations or dance moves, because almost everyone you meet there is sure to be a single-serving friend. Instead of staring at your phone for three hours, go ahead and mingle with anyone and everyone. Who knows who you'll end up rubbing elbows with?
1. Have fun.
Really though, no one wants to bring someone miserable to a wedding. The most important thing about nearly any social gathering is that you and your date have a good time. Go to the wedding with an open mind and enjoy yourself. There's no reason to waste an entire evening of your life by being miserable when you could be having a perfectly good time. Have fun. Do what you want to do. Just try not to make too big of a scene while you do it.