Summer no longer means endless freedom: It means preparing for and going to multiple weddings. Sure, sure, weddings are important and we all love celebrating our friends/family and their public commitment to love. But if you’re a single person, navigating wedding season can be painful. No matter how confident you feel about your single status, being surrounded by wedded bliss can bring up some not so fun feelings, and um, occasional rude comments from well-meaning fellow guests. If you’re staring down the barrel of a summer’s worth of weekends spent bopping to “All the Single Ladies” on a dance floor crowded with couples, we feel you. This primer will help.
Seriously, buy just one dress.
The dresses you wear to weddings are expensive and more formal than anything you’d usually put on for work or a date. Having to buy multiple new dresses for several weddings is going to cost an insane amount of money and make you feel resentful. Stick to one versatile dress and re-wear it. Seriously, no one will notice. Another excellent cost-saving solution? Renting a dress. Or actually do what all your married friends have been swearing you can do for years, and have an old bridesmaid dress tailored into something shorter. If you’re a dude, just iron the dress shirt you already have and donate a percentage of all the money you save by being a man to your local Planned Parenthood.
Be patient with the bridal party.
Being single and in a bridal party is the next level of hell for most singles. This goes double if all of the other bridesmaids or groomsmen are coupled up and doing a lot of bonding by talking about their own weddings, married futures, and honeymoons to exotic locales. You will feel left out, and that’s OK. Be patient. Be kind. Remember you’re celebrating your friend and today is not going to be about you. It’s actually good practice if you do decide to ever get married or have a kid, because then nothing will be about you again anyway.
You don’t have to dance.
It’s not your job as a single person to be the wild party starter. If you don’t want to run to the dance floor for the bouquet toss, take tequila shots, or start a conga line — you don’t have to. You’re well within your rights to be as comfortable as you want to be at the wedding. Some people think singles should be entertaining and wild at all times. They might encourage you to hook up with the cute server or make a surprise toast, but you can politely remind them that you’re an actual person celebrating your friend and not a boozy character in a rom-com. If anyone asks you for dating horror stories or if they can see your Tinder profile, politely excuse yourself and find the dessert table.
Do not feel sorry for the couple.
Being single is better than being coupled in so many ways. You get freedom. You don’t have to deal with another person’s constant quirks. No one expects you to spend the equivalent of a house down payment on a big party. At a wedding, you just might feel unexpectedly sorry for the couple — especially when you remember all the times over the past five years the bride has called you crying because her now groom forgot her birthday and was liking booty pics on Instagram. Feel sorry for her the day before the wedding (or rehearsal dinner) instead, because pity is very easy to read on anyone’s face. Focus on all the good aspects of the new marriage instead. Married couples get great tax breaks, so there’s that.
Weddings often have interesting and attractive single people at them, and there’s no reason you can’t engage in some flirting IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT. If not, this wedding (and all the other weddings this summer) is not your last chance to meet someone nice or nicely dressed.
Talk to the older people.
At the wedding reception, make an effort to chit chat with the newlyweds’ older relatives and friends. Sure, they might ask you inappropriate questions about your dating life or make vaguely insulting comments about your generation’s disinterest in taking on student loan debt, but they might also have far more in common with you than you expect. Single people tend to travel regularly, volunteer more often, and build interesting careers — kind of like retired people.
Go in on a group gift.
In a perfect world, you’d have unlimited funds to buy the priciest kitchen appliance on the Crate and Barrel wedding registry. But multiple wedding gifts add up, and single people don’t have a partner to help pay for anything, let alone a new KitchenAid mixer for every cousin and sorority sister getting married this summer. Consider finding other friends or family members to go in on a group gift with you. Couples don’t give a pricier gift because there are two of them, so why should you be penalized?
You don’t have to stay.
It’s perfectly acceptable to leave shortly after the cake is cut. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself or not having a fun time, there’s no reason you have to be the wedding guest who stays late to put away folding chairs or volunteer to drive grandma home. If you definitely know you’re going to leave unhappy, consider making plans with other friends on the same night. Hey, you’re already dressed up. Of course, say goodnight to the couple and thank them, and be in a good mood while you’re at the wedding. Then, peace out with your single self.
Hold on to this single feeling.
Remember this wedding season for when you’re part of a couple and consider single people to be a threat for some reason you can’t quite put your finger on. Vow to talk to them like normal people with feelings and interesting lives. Single people are just people. Married people are just people. Let’s stop defining each other so strictly by our relationship statuses, shall we?
Take a souvenir.
If the orchid centerpieces are beautiful or the monogrammed cupcakes are extra delicious, take one home with you. You earned it.