I don't know exactly how many weddings I've attended over the years but I know it's a lot. My colleague and I counted once a few years ago and it was in the 60s, which could mean any number of things -- I'm an excellent dancer (true), an excellent gift giver (also true), or I have difficulty saying no to someone when they invite me somewhere (the most true). It definitely means that I'm broke.
I have also been blessed to have made some pretty amazing friends along the way who have allowed me to share in their nuptials.
Going to this many weddings means that I've become somewhat of an expert over the years. Considering this is the season that many of you will be embarking on your own Summer Wedding Tours, here is some completely unsolicited advice I've gathered over the years.
The Do's and Don'ts - from a self-proclaimed wedding professional.
DO wait until you're later in life to get married.
I love the quote from When Harry Met Sally, when Harry says, "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." I completely believe it myself. But if you wait to get married, the more likely you are to get better parties and better gifts from your friends who now have better jobs than they did when you were all 23. You might luck out with entire set of glasses instead of just one or in some embarrassing cases, none at all (sorry, Kimberly). You may get your own bed at your bachelorette party instead of searching for floor space at a beach condo with 25 of your closest friends (sorry, Katherine).
Despite having plenty of friends who have waited to get married, Wedding Tour has certainly slowed down in recent years. But even still, family commitments, work responsibilities have all at one point interfered with my plans to rock the "Electric Slide" all summer long. Attending every shower and bachelorette party isn't always possible.
My advice - DO what you can.
Despite pleading with co-workers, I couldn't get off work to attend my friend Emily's wedding in Florida. But I was off the couple of days before the wedding, so I decided, with her blessing, to celebrate at the beach for a few days before.
My abrupt arrival and departure from the weekend's festivities was awkward - especially when people said, "See you tomorrow at the wedding!" and I had to say, "Well, actually . . .you won't . . . but it was so nice to meet you. Bye!!!!!" I was tired at work on Saturday after getting up early to drive back, but I'm so glad I made the trip to be with Emily before her wedding.
DO kick off the wedding weekend with a bang.
In Emily's case, it was a Thursday night beach party at sunset, but any kind of party that welcomes your guests and gives them an opportunity to get to know each other will work. Your wedding is likely (and unfortunately) the only time in your life when everyone you love will be at the same place and the same time, so maximize the time you spend with them.
When you don't know anyone at a wedding besides the bride and groom, DO find the oldest people there and befriend them. They are not necessarily looking to drink as much as possible in a short period of time and they have the best stories.
Carl immediately took a liking to me when he saw that we were both the party paparazzi, stalking people with our cameras. When we both took a break from taking pictures long enough to have a beer and enjoy the fire, we sparked up a conversation. Carl told me he was a teacher, with a sincere love of science and traveling.
Carl apparently thought I was a lot more popular at this wedding than I actually was because he kept interrupting his stories about all of the amazing countries he'd visited, insisting that I leave him to go hang out with my, "friends." I had to keep reminding him that besides the bride and groom, he was the only other person that I really knew.
He went back to telling me more about his travels. Then he paused and looked out at everyone standing around.
"There sure are a lot of pretty ladies at this wedding," he said.
You got that right, Carl.
Coming in a close second for coolest new friend I met at the pre-wedding festivities was Emily's Granny. She did a little dance for us as we were leaving to head to a bar, so I said, "You need to come with us!"
She said, "I'd love to go, but I've got to hook up!"
I stopped abruptly and looked at her.
"Hook up to my dialysis machine!," she laughed as she walked away.
I. Love. Her. We further sealed our bond while putting fruit skewers together.
DO hire a steel drum band.
DO take part in the fireworks. Weddings are a celebration.
DO NOT light six of them at once.
DO crash the rehearsal dinner - you never know when one of those bridesmaids is going to fall out and the bride is going to be looking for a back up.
Gotta run, I think I hear the Chicken Dance . . . CONGRATULATIONS EMILY AND JAY!