Wedding Dos and Don’ts: 2015 Guest Edition

Any long-ish time readers of the blog know that the past year for me has basically centered around one thing and one thing only: other people’s weddings. For the past 12 months, and the last 5 in particular, my life has been a blur of bachelorette parties and bridal showers and rehearsal dinners, navy dresses or skirts and so much travel, all to celebrate some of the people I love the most saying I Do to the person they love most of all. It’s been a wonderful year, filled with happiness and love and wonderful memories, and it’s also been a year with a few *questionable* teaching moments for yours truly.

As someone who has been a bridesmaid, maid-of-honor, guest, and combination of all three across four weddings this fall, I feel fairly well qualified to provide a list of tips and tricks for how to have the best time. Each wedding I went to in the past five months was amazing in its own way: how do you top a freaking bagpipe-led parade down Fifth Avenue in our black-tie best? A ski lift during cocktail hour? An entire weekend with no open container laws? Or trying to out-crazy a bunch of drunk NYPD officers and rugby players? Answer: you don’t. I could never choose between four of the most fun nights of my life.

So here you go kids: My list of top wedding Dos and Don’ts:

DON’TS

  • DON’T drink too much at the rehearsal dinner. It may or may not lead to losing your phone in an Uber, losing your dignity around your friend’s extremely fancy family, losing an entire glass of red wine on your shoes or jumping so exuberantly on your sister the bride the morning of her wedding (read: still a lil drunk) when you guys wake up that she spends her big day with a massive bruise on her knee.
  • DON’T have a panic attack about your outfit. First, if R’s maid of honor still got a dress in time for the wedding after her original dress was ruined in Texas flooding like SIX WEEKS before the big day… your outfit will be fine. This also goes for guests – though I will condone impulse-buying sequin pants ONLY after your three closet dresses and two rented back-ups don’t fit.
  • DON’T freak out if you have a million weddings. Yes, they’re expensive and stressful and sometimes the food is terrible (*not the case for any of mine this year but I hear it happens), but it’s the happiest day of someone’s life. Once you see the couple looking at each other as they say “I do,” all the stress and money is worth it.
  • DON’T FORGET BOOB TAPE. I can’t stress this enough. There was not a single wedding I went to this year where that didn’t come in some form of handy.
  • DON’T take it too seriously. Some of the best parts of R and T’s weddings were in the mornings as we all got ready together. I have to say, in my head I assumed it was going to be this frenzy of activity, everyone freaking out and trying to calm down an anxious bride. Instead we were all quite calm, happily sipping on champagne and listening to music until it was about that time to get dressed. Things are going to happen on a wedding day that you can’t control, but you can control your reaction. Just let them happen, and remember to have fun.

DOS

  • DO have snacks. Snacks in the bridal suite, snacks in your hotel room, snacks in your purse before the ceremony – SNACKS. I know it’s tempting to eat nothing before the wedding to “save yourself” for the cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres or dinner, but that’s really poor planning. Bring snacks, and just assume you’re going to overeat. It’s okay. We won’t judge.
  • DO reuse accessories! I spent *probably* too much money new pair of shoes for R’s wedding but ended up wearing them to every other wedding I attended this year, and the higher quality was totally worth it. Same with earrings I bought for T’s wedding – probably spent too much and didn’t end up wearing them for her, but I’ve already worn them to two weddings and a holiday party this year. It’s worth it to plan ahead and spend a little extra on nice things if you have a lot of weddings or events.
  • DID I MENTION BRING BOOB TAPE. I’m not kidding it’s a lifesaver. Or a boob saver. Decency-saver? Well maybe not that last one if you’re like me and decide to drink whiskey. But seriously… bring boob tape.
  • DO get on the dance floor! I was SHOCKED at two of the weddings how many guests seemed embarrassed to dance once the band/DJ got going. It’s a wedding – dance like a fool, who cares! All eyes are on the happy couple anyway. And if you are the happy couple, dance like a fool – you just got married, so who cares!
  • DO take risks. The scariest thing I’ve done in a long time was attend an out-of-town wedding alone while wearing sequined pants, and it may have turned into the best decision I’ve ever made.

So there it is kids! My lessons from weddings this year. I would have done a PLD Montage but aside from the aforementioned rehearsal dinner mishaps, there weren’t really any terrible decisions on my end. I even had half a vodka shot and didn’t cry or lose anything!  It’s been such a wonderful year of love and new beginnings, and pleasant surprises. To all the new wives and husbands in my life, you’ve made this year unforgettable for me and I can’t thank you enough for planning such incredible weekends.

But also, thank you all for getting married within five months of each other. I’m for sure looking forward to a LONG break from those gold shoes.

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Page One

My final wedding of the year took place in New Jersey last Friday night, for a girl that I suppose I have to describe as a “work friend,” but truly she’s so much more. We worked together while I was at my last firm, and we’ve stayed close – she always joked I’d be invited to the wedding, but it was still a(n awesome) surprise to receive the official invite in the mail a few months back. I mean, she easily could have given the invite to another distant family member, another friend of her husband’s, but she chose to have me there, and I couldn’t have been more honored. Terrified, to be fair, as I made my way down the hotel elevator to the shuttle bus alone, feeling the full weight of knowing not a single soul at that wedding, but honored and excited all the same.

My fears of basically crashing a wedding with an invitation were totally unfounded, and within three minutes of sitting on the bus, I’d made a friend, and I kept meeting awesome, fun, wonderful new people all night, who embraced me as their own and did their best to make sure I had fun. I looked around at one point at the afterparty, and realized it felt almost comfortable. It felt like I was supposed to be there, like I’d known everyone there for years and maybe it wouldn’t have been the same if I weren’t there. I’m sure it would have been – or perhaps everyone was just blinded by my sequined pants. But it felt that way nonetheless.

Two days later, in an attempt to sweat out the rest of my hangover from the most aggressive partying I’ve done since my very early single days (#jersey), I went to a Bikram yoga class in Harlem and found myself meditating on the fact that I hadn’t felt that in a really long time, like maybe it would have been different if I weren’t there. It’s a hard feeling to explain – it’s not that I’m linking that statement to a particular occasion or even group of friends or family. But to be so wholly embraced by these strangers as a friend, to have the bride single me out in a wedding of nearly 200 people for a dance and many selfies, just to feel like I was with a group of people that were so happy I was there, it all felt foreign, in a great and terrible way.

Replaceable. We replace our dishes, we replace our clothes, we replace our apartments and we replace our friends. Sometimes we grow out of things or we break them, sometimes things outgrow us or walk away. Everything, mostly, is replaceable, whether we want to believe that or not; it’s nice to think we’re all going to live in the same place forever and we’re going to work the same job forever and we’re going to be best friends forever, but when you account for all the growing up we do in such short periods of time, it makes sense that sometimes we just need to move on. Imagine reading the same book over, and over, and over, doing the same thing over, and over, and over. Eventually it’s time for a new book, because the old one is worn out or you don’t like it anymore. Lately I’ve felt like that book, worn out and no longer relevant. Replaceable, if you will.

I stopped by to see my M&N, the newlyweds, after work this week so I could catch them up on the juicy wedding details, and she made a comment that’s stuck with me. After I mentioned how much fun I’d truly had, despite not knowing anyone, she laughed and said “of course you did! It was the first wedding this year where you could basically just turn up and say I’M HERE!” She meant it more like I wasn’t on bridesmaid/maid-of-honor duty for the first time, but I heard it on a different level. The wedding was a blank slate. I was a blank slate, page one of a new book. All the bullshit of the past six months, two years, five years, ten years, no one knew any of it. No one knew who I used to be, no one knew what it took me to become this person.

They just knew me as me. The Me now, this me that I’m carrying with me into 2016. It was a new page in the Book of LB, a blank slate, replacing the prejudices of the past two, five, seven years and starting over. And it felt nice to be on Page One of something again. In fact, I’d say that feeling is irreplaceable.