I find weddings stressful and awkward. With few exceptions, you're stuck for hours with strangers grasping for chit chat. I'm usually wearing an uncomfortable dress that I outgrew four years ago because I'm too cheap to spend $200 on a new dress after I've already blown $750 for plane tickets, hotel room, rental car, and gift. Because I'm unmarried, I usually can't bring a date and am banished to the back in the room, behind the pillar, seated by the guy who talks about his gum transplant surgery. At every wedding I've attended in the past eight or so years, someone has stopped me with the same, relentless joke: "You're next." Once upon a time, this sounded like a kindly wish. Nowadays it sounds as if I've been singled out for a hit, and I'm left with the nervous feeling that, any moment now, my ovaries might explode out of my body, hog-tie the nearest single man, and drag us both to the altar.
On top of all these trying circumstances, there is the keen pressure to be joyous. You're here to celebrate after all, and you must smile, you must chatter about the flower arrangements, you must dance the Electric Slide. It takes a superhuman quantity of resolve to endure a wedding with grace. Suffice to say, I don't have nearly that resolve. Just two minutes ago, I couldn't resist eating the rest of the cake I brought home from dinner.
I have, consequently, committed a lot of wedding-related sins and faux pas. Here are a few highlights:
- At a wedding where I did not know a single person (other than the wedding couple), I approached a man who had a friendly and somewhat familiar face. As my opening remark to him, I said, "Wow, you must be [the groom's] brother. There is such a strong family resemblance in the face!" He hesitated then replied politely, "Actually, I'm the husband of [the groom's] sister." Yowza.
- One of the worse aspects of being a single woman at a wedding is that you're forced to participate in the bouquet toss where you're supposed engage in the desperate scramble to be the next year's blushing bride. You can try to hide, but married wedding attendees will fish you out of the bathroom. With the one exception where my friend, Elaine, tucked a $50 bill into the bouquet, I have never been a good sport about this humiliating ritual. I stand there sullen with sagging shoulders, vaguely hoping to die. Once, I actually punched a bouquet that flew too closely to me. I swear it's simply reflex to bat away a flying projectile, but tell that to the astonished bride who's staring at the limp bouquet and the exploded petals on the on the ground. Another time, I simply ran from the bouquet as it headed my way, pushing against the women behind me, and the bouquet landed with an unceremonious thump. On yet two other occasions, I've allowed the bouquet to actually hit me in the face and then fall to the floor rather than make the effort to catch it. I hear that's really bad luck.
- The last wedding I attended, the couple's wedding ceremony ended at 4pm, and the itinerary stated that the reception would "immediately follow." The guests were left to wait in the cocktail area making idle chit chat. After more than hour of talking about the weather and no wedding party member in sight, I became overcome by grouchiness. I marched to person after person (from waiters to family members) to gruffly inquire when the reception was going to start. Finally, an uncle was dispatched to ask the wedding coordinator of the plans and came back to say that the we were expected to wait for another two hours. I felt enraged and said, quite loudly, "I am getting the f-ck out of here," and then stormed out.
- Last, but not least, I broke up with a boyfriend at a wedding. I sobbed in the bathroom. I sobbed when the bride walked down the aisle. People would make the joke, "You're next," and I'd sniffle into my napkin as people would turn red and look awkwardly away. I refused to dance to any song, except that, when "I Will Survive" came on, I leapt to the dance floor like a gazelle and whirled around with abandon.