Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unsolicited Advice for My Baby Sister: Survival Tips for Attending A Friend's Wedding

My baby sister Katherine is twenty-four, and the first of her college friends is getting married this summer. Ten years ago, the first of my college friends got married, and since those first nuptials, I have learned a lot about being a wedding guest. Here are some random tips I have for Katherine so she can maximize her fun at the reception:

  • Order A Gift From The Registry ASAP: Buy something off the registry! This is easier for you and the couple. If they really wanted polka dot ice cream bowls, they would have registered for them. But they didn't, so that means they either (a) hate polka dots, (b) hate ice cream, or (c) don't have space for polka dot ice cream bowls. And since you are going to buy a gift off the registry, do it now! Don't wait for the week before the wedding when all the good/affordable stuff is gone. I know it's on the registry, but do you really want to buy a feather duster and soap dispenser for your friend?
  • Screw Group Gifts: Yes, if you pool your resources with your college crowd, you can afford that Cherry Red Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. And if someone else is coordinating the group gift and you just need to write a check, by all means, join the group gift. But don't spearhead the group gift unless you enjoy nagging your friends for money.
  • Don't Bring A Gift To The Wedding: If you order off the registry, then you should be able to ship the gift directly to the bride. DO THIS. You see that big pile of gifts at the wedding reception? Someone has to schlep those gifts to the car, and then the gifts have to be schlepped from the car to the house... Just let UPS work its magic.
  • Don't Pay Extra For Gift Wrap: If you order a gift online from the registry, you can pay extra for gift wrap. SCREW GIFT WRAP. The bride and groom will receive a ton of gifts in the mail in the weeks before the wedding, and gift wrap just means more crap for the waste bin. The box is wrapping enough. (But remember to write a gift message so the bride actually knows who sent the present!)
  • Be Ridiculously Careful With Scandalous Gifts: I have heard many brides complain, I can't believe So-and-So gave me crotchless panties, I was so embarrassed to unwrap that present in front of my grandmother! I have never once heard a bride complain, Geez, the cake pans from Williams Sonoma are awesome but what I was really hoping for was a vibrator and some edible chocolate lotion.
  • Eat Before the Ceremony (And Maybe Even Bring A Snack With You): Weddings are notorious for starting late. Then the cocktail reception might be at another location; but even if it's not, it still might take forever and a day before you get to nibble on some shrimp. Sometimes, there is a catering disaster, and you will have to fight to the death to get one crab puff. So then, you have to wait for dinner... but there might be forty toasts before the kitchen serves dinner... and if you are sitting at the college friends' table, there is a strong possibility you will be among the last to be served. Do yourself a favor and eat a normal meal before the wedding.
  • You Are Not Meeting Your Soulmate At The Wedding: Yeah, I know, I know. It happens all the time in the movies. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your life is not a movie. Just assume the groom's friends are all either (a) in a serious relationship, (b) antisocial, (c) gay, or (d) man whores who are only interested in a one night stand. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised. Probably not.
  • Don't Be That Crazy Drunk Girl Everyone Talks About: It's okay to drink, and hey, if don't have to drive, go ahead and get drunk. (I can't believe I just gave my baby sister permission to get drunk.) But make sure someone is drunker than you. Everyone remembers "the drunkest girl at the wedding" and makes fun of her for years. No one remembers the "second drunkest girl."
  •  Don't Bug The Bride In The Days Before the Wedding: If you have a question about the dress code or weather, ask the bride for advice several weeks (if not months!) before the wedding. Don't wait until the week before the wedding when bridezilla is freaking out about ... well, everything. If it's 48 hours before the wedding and you realize you don't know where to get pizza in Chicago, CHECK YELP, YOU DUMBASS. If you call the bride for directions to the wedding venue as she is getting her make-up done, you are a horrible human being.
  • Wear Dancing Shoes: If you want to dance during the reception, then you need to wear shoes that are comfortable for dancing, end of discussion. If you have any concerns about your shoes' ability to dance all night, sneak a pair of flip-flops into the reception. Your feet will thank you.
  • When In Doubt, Bring A Pashmina: I don't care what the weather forecast says. If the ceremony or reception are outside, it might get cold. My pink pashmina has saved my shivering shoulders at more weddings than I care to remember.
  • If Possible, Figure Out What Color The Bridesmaids Are Wearing: And then wear a different color. No matter how fabulous your dress is, it will suddenly look like crap if it matches the bridesmaids' gowns.
  • Don't Expect To Spend Tons of Quality Time With The Bride: You may actually get to spend a lot of time hanging out with the bride. But then again, maybe you won't. It all depends on the bride. If it's a big ass wedding with 400 guests, it's safe to assume you might only see the bride during a few rushed encounters.
  • Don't Gossip About The Bride, The Groom, Or Their Families: You never know who might be listening. If the groom's sister overhears you making fun of the groom's fat butt, you will spend the rest of the evening feeling sick.