It’s wedding season! That time of year when you empty your wallet to buy gifts, hope that no one notices that you wore the same outfit to all the weddings of the season, and make small talk with your awkwardly placed table mates at the reception. For ladies, there is an added level of difficulty: surviving the bouquet toss with your dignity in tact – or not, whatever floats your boat.
I’ve been to my fair share of weddings. It wasn’t too long ago that I went to 11 of them in one year. Both my social stamina and my wallet took a beating that year, and I came out so jaded about weddings that I now tend to lean towards the opinions of this writer. And this one.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy celebrating couples that I care about with people that I like, I really do. And if ever God deemed it in his plan for me to be hitched as well, I would go for it. But I also know from experience that weddings can be tedious, the people at weddings turn obnoxious or boring or both, and that masses of insecurities about myself may arise (i.e. why am I not married? why am I the one who is single? Or the dreaded what is wrong with me?).
I’ve been to fun weddings, boring weddings, happy ones, rather angry ones, simple ones, ones full of tradition and symbols of love. I’ve gotten pretty good at reading the signs and knowing when a wedding is a good one. Good meaning…well, read the list below and it’ll explain.
1. You really, really like the wedded couple. You would hang out with them on special occasions like their wedding day, as well as on random occasions like making a Jack-in-the-Box run at midnight after bowling. You would be at Starbucks waiting to order and text them to see if they want anything. You joke with them, have serious conversations with them, share comfortable silences with them. You can strike up your friendship with them after not seeing each other for a long time, and yet it seems like no time has passed. You share stories and memories with them. They have proven themselves to be solid friends. And you would sit through an entire conversation with their pastor’s seminary classmate’s pet project that you find not at all interesting just to witness the happiness of the couple.
2. a) The wedded couple really, really like you. #1 vice versa. On top of that, it is clear that the couple has made a concerted effort to put you at ease during what otherwise would be an awkward/boring/depressing time at their nuptials. When my roommate of barely 9-months got married, she seated me with her family and best friends – the people that I knew from my short time rooming with her. Even though we weren’t terribly close, and we didn’t have that much history, and any other wedding planner would have stuck me in the back table with a bunch of other singles (probably from their work, or church), I was afforded a place near the front and center with people that I already knew and liked. I really appreciated that.
2. b) The wedded couple puts their guests first. I also appreciate it when the bride and groom take a break from staring soulfully and disgustingly into each other eyes and work the room a bit. They stop and chat, not just swing by to say hi. They make sure you are comfortable, that the food is good, and the drinks are potent. They take the time to care for their guests, and you know that’s a classy thing to do. I can’t count the number of weddings I’ve been where the atmosphere was ‘the couple-first.’ That everything was about them, and them alone. That they were having a great time, and it doesn’t matter what their guests were doing – no, wait, it mattered that the guests leave a generous gift. After that, it doesn’t matter.
3. There are things to look at. Meaningful things. A slideshow of the couple from birth to adulthood. Their story written somewhere to peruse. The setting is outdoors, where you can just sit back and enjoy the view with a drink in your hand and not have to talk at all. A great wedding I went to recently had a thousand paper cranes displayed in the hall. The bride and a few friends had made them all, and they were handed out as favors. There was also a little story about the Japanese tradition of paper cranes to read too. Really pretty flowers and architecture doesn’t hurt either. Location, location, location!
4. There are things to do. Other than eating and drinking (which are perfectly legit as well) it’s nice when there is something for the guests to do. A photo booth set up, some sort of note-writing/guestbook signing, dancing, entertainment, fondue fountains, music. It makes it seem more like a party and less like a ‘watch two people go through the motions of becoming socially/religiously/morally acceptable to have sex.’ I, personally, will have Dance Dance Revolution at my wedding, if God ever concedes to that plan.
5. There is humor and tenderness integrated everywhere. I love weddings that have meaning. I love it when the presider has a sense of humor. I love it when little things go wrong during a wedding and everyone pulls through to make it ok, and then we all have a laugh about it. I love it when the speeches and toasts are akin to this one, both touching and hilariously awkward at the same time.
6. The other guests are fun. Sometimes this is all a crap-shot, as you may or may not know who is going to attend before hand. I know people ask each other whether they are going to a mutual friend’s wedding, but I’ve been not-invited to enough of these mutual friend’s weddings to know how awkward and sometimes humiliating that can be (oh! you weren’t invited? that’s so strange, I wonder why?). So I never ask other people if they are going, unless I know for a fact that they were invited.
Still, this one is probably the biggest deal, even more so than all the above. Partly because this is true of all types of gatherings, not just weddings. When I am around ‘People Not of the Race That Knows Joseph’ then it’s quite lonely, and I tend towards depressing thoughts. But when I am around fun people, who will go on the dance floor as a group and do the Cupid Shuffle, who unabashedly take photos like a tourist, who laugh and sing and talk and not talk, and we all like and accept each other with all our flaws and idiosyncrasies, then you can have a grand old time anywhere, any day.
And that’s the trick to finding a life partner too – someone of The Race That Knows Joseph and likes me just the way I am and can have fun with anywhere, any day.