Sex + Dating

The Art of Being the Perfect Wedding Date

If you're between 22 and 30, your social media timelines and inboxes have been flooded with wedding announcements, countdowns to the big day(s), and all-around happiness from family and friends for months now. It's summer, and it’s the season of self-reflection: who's growing up, who's having kids, who's still partying at crappy, hole-in-the-wall bars until 4am... and who's tying the knot.

Your odds are good, if you fall into the aforementioned age group, that in the near future you're going to be some lucky wedding guest's date. Getting invited as such is definitely a good sign -- but don't get cocky! There are a TON of ways to mess things up. Here's an etiquette guide so you don't end up making out in a coat closet with some rando... or fleeing in embarrassment and ruin.

Act like the high-functioning human you are and socialize...

Don’t be the anti-social person in the corner on the phone. Yeah, it's not easy -- and people at weddings can be pains in the ass, especially if you don’t know any of them. There's no place like weddings for old friends to be catching up, leaving their uninitiated dates in the lurch. Worse yet, your date could be a bridesmaid or groomsman. Still, you'll seem standoffish if you don't mingle -- and it can reflect poorly on your date.

As a shy person, I totally get how frustrating this can be. But you're the plus-one, so it's your responsibility to be there in a supporting role to the person who asked you to come along. There are many payoffs to this -- one of which begins later as soon as you get back to your hotel room.

There's a time to share your opinion on world and personal issues. This isn't it.

... but don't editorialize too much

It will be tempting, after your third cocktail at the bar, to respond to Uncle Jimmy's monologue on the state of politics. You'll want to offer some supportive nuggets of wisdom to your date's friend, who's been sitting across from you drowning her recent breakup in a sea of white zin.

Don't. There's a time to share your opinion on world and personal issues. This isn't it.

Appear poised, i.e., fake it till you make it

If your date is in the wedding party or has a close relationship with the bride and groom, chances are you are going to be scanned over from head to toe by them along with everyone else. That can make the most resolute among us feel a little shaky. Time to grow a thick skin and walk into that reception with confidence. Let no one see you sweat.

Do your research

Assuming your date knows either the bride or groom (or both), you'll want to brush up on a few details about their lives. Any decent wedding guest should have cursory knowledge about how long they were together, their connection to your date, who the parents are (just having them pointed out will do so you can offer the obligatory congrats in passing), and any glaring subjects sure to come up over the course of the evening (mostly related to any major recent drama among the friends you're liable to be hanging with all weekend).

Knowing who the loose cannons are, which unsavory guests are in the mix, and what awkward tension may arise will put you in a good position to be navigating the wedding waters whether or not your date is standing by your side the whole time.

Dance -- but dance with moderation

No need to get totally crazy here, but dancing is a great way to mix and mingle with the other guests at the wedding... and it keeps you from looking like a loner at the table. You're at this event amongst strangers to do two things: a) to show your date you're solid in any social situation, and b) to have some fun. Please don't say no if your date asks you onto the dance floor -- and don't be shy about enjoying a few fast turns out there. Just promise to abide by the next rule while you do.

Be polite, be reserved, and be in control.

Be fun, but a little reserved

No stealing the spotlight! Let everyone else hog the photo booth. Don't vie for that bouquet. PLEASE stay away from all microphones. And be nice to everyone -- even (especially!) your date if they accidentally get caught up reminiscing with old friends and you're not being showered with attention. Even your date's ex, who slurs something mean under their breath as you walk past. EVERYONE.

Be polite, be reserved, and be in control.

Beware of the single squad

Coming to a wedding as someone’s date is great -- coming alone can be nothing short of a complete nightmare. You always see the group of singles roaming around looking for other singles they can leave the party with. It’s your job to make sure that if you came with the best man, you don’t leave with one of the groomsman you bonded with at the bar.

Keep your emotions in check

Weddings bring out all kinds of emotions: that much love (and perpetual reminder of your singledom) packed into one room can be overwhelming. But please, hold back the tears -- no one likes a crybaby.

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When Dana Givens is not being a lovely wedding date, she’s enjoying life and summer in New York while traveling the world. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.