Characters you might meet at your friend’s wedding next weekend.

Apologies for falling off the grid these past few days, but I have good excuses. First I was really, really sick, and then I went off to Barcelona to attend a lovely wedding as my sister’s plus one (an invitation secured mainly because it happened to be my birthday weekend and she would have felt incredibly guilty leaving me behind in dreary, wet London while she lived it up in sunny Spain). And because I’m freshly returned from a celebration of love, I thought it was particularly apt to post a little something on why weddings are so great.

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A snap of the bride’s entrance at the aforementioned Barcelona wedding.

Pretty much everyone I know is getting married apart from me. Well, that’s not wholly accurate, but it sometimes feels that way. That’s not a cause for concern for me just yet (or at least that’s what I’ll claim and I’m sticking to my story)—it just means that my single friends and I have plenty of weddings to attend and a great many festivities to partake in. And there’s nothing quite as fun as a good wedding.[1]

I find that one of the best things about weddings, apart from giving me an excuse to dress up and look fabulous, is that it’s the sort of occasion that brings together a broad spectrum of individuals. Not really people from all walks of life—you most likely won’t be meeting Mike, the heavily tattooed mechanic and his wife Tula (a reformed stripper) when your law school buddy Eddie gets married to Deirdre, who consults at BCG—but you’ll still meet characters of all ages and with all sorts of personality types.

Weddings, if you happen to be single, are also thought to be fantastic opportunities to “meet that special someone.” I actually do know several people who’ve succeeded in living out this nice little cliché (including the couple who just got hitched this past weekend), and so, for a few years, every time a “save the date” notice arrived in the mail, I have to admit that my heart fluttered a bit. Before putting on my finery I’d sit there at my vanity, nonchalantly combing my hair as I entertained ridiculous internal monologues, “will I tumble head over heels in love with the fellow seated next to me at the table? Will I end up making a real connection with a guy who, only moments ago, was just a  handsome stranger, and stay up all night talking to him? Will I…?”

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Cue love fantasy montage.

Now, at 29 years of age, rather jaded about romance and with dozens of weddings under my belt, I’ve realised that these scenarios don’t happen very often, or at least not to me. I’ve ceased to entertain these sad little fantasies, and try to just enjoy myself.

Whether or not a love connection is made, weddings are still a great way to make your acquaintance with someone you would have otherwise never spoken to. The more unique his/her background, occupation, or temperament, the better. Some are very entertaining personalities, and others may be boring, or extremely irritating. But you’re guaranteed that someone you’ll meet would be good fodder for an anecdote or two, and that’s what really matters in life in my books.

After canvassing a few good friends for material, and surveying my own catalogue of memorable wedding experiences, I’ve compiled a list of  a few of the characters, some colourful, some not so much, you might just bump into the next time you celebrate a good friend’s nuptials.

The exuberant old-timer[2]: no matter how generally un-cool you think your friends’ parents are, they themselves or a good friend they’ve invited could be described as “the life of the party.” This character, usually male, may tire more quickly these days, go to bed a little earlier than he used to, but he still boasts vast reserves of energy relative to all the other senior citizens in attendance, and can be spied tearing it up on the dance floor. He will immediately commence the dancing as soon as the golden oldies start to play, and give the youngsters a run for their money. He may very well stay on the dance floor long after the classic dance tunes have come and gone, shaking it to Lady Gaga. When not on the dance floor, this energetic elder can be seen socializing a great deal and knocking back the drinks like a frat boy.

Dancing dad

That one really drunk guy: Watch out, if left unchecked, this guy could ruin the party. He may be a close friend, or someone the couple were obligated to invite. He may have suffered some heartbreak recently, leading to his single-handed obliteration of a full handle of whiskey within a few hours of arriving at the reception. Or he might be a raging alcoholic. Then again, he may just have been having a real good time and didn’t exactly pace himself on this one occasion. The one really drunk guy won’t always get involved in an actual physical fight, but that usually means he’s wandering around talking all kinds of shit or being a nuisance to the ladies. No matter how much you’d like the one really drunk guy to pipe down and drink some water, he’s still at the bar yelling at the barman to keep the drinks coming. The female variation of this personality, that one really drunk girl, is most likely in the bathroom, partially unclothed and bawling her eyes out over something that probably isn’t a really big deal.

The quick-witted aunt: A variation on the exuberant old timer, except this one doesn’t dance quite as much. She’ll be unmarried, a widow or a divorcee. If she is still married, her husband is either nowhere to be found or is all the way across the room. She may have been quite the beauty in her youth, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. Engage her in conversation, she’ll prove to be very entertaining and possibly even provide you with some insight on your own life, which is always much appreciated. Your elders can be wise like that sometimes.

The ultra-obnoxious friend of a friend: Hilarious, fun to dance with, and incredibly loud, this guy is the life of the party (and may possibly evolve into the exuberant old timer in his old age). He most likely enjoys being the centre of attention outside of weddings too. If you find him attractive, you may be able to overlook his flamboyant, noisy ways, because he is so much fun to be around. But if you aren’t that into his looks and he starts taking a shine to you, well, dancing and chatting to him all night could have given him the wrong impression.

A new drunken friend: when I came across this character, she was a high flying corporate executive something or another. Successful, happily (?) married to a nice-looking guy, living in a big cosmopolitan city, I wouldn’t have minded trading places witdh her. She was also absolutely smashed and when I sat down next to her, and she, a total stranger whose name I didn’t get, decided that she liked me. We have series of hilarious photos together. These are some of my favourite photographs ever.

T.V.A.F.F.A.W.H.A.S.O.B.I.S.F.W.Y.: The very attractive friend from abroad who has a significant other but is shamelessly flirting with you. Or maybe you’re the one with the absentee significant other, and you’re the one who’s shamelessly flirting. Whatever the case may be, something isn’t quite kosher about your interaction. But how can something so wrong feel so good? You pretty much zeroed in on him/her as soon as you got to the party. The feeling is clearly mutual. The sexual tension is palpable. One of you is acting like a bit of scumbag, but goddammit,  you’re enjoying yourself so much because she/he is so very good looking and irresistibly charming. You two proceed to flirt all night, and you think to yourself, well a bit of a flirt won’t do anyone any harm, right? Even if you don’t end up…uh…kicking things up a notch with this alluring wedding guest, you’ll still wake up feeling sheepish and guilty the next day, as well you should, you cheating/home-wrecking scumbag.   

The Ex: This could be either your ex, or the ex-boyfriend/girlfriend of the bride/groom. If it’s the former, the chances are you still haven’t gotten over them and you are proceeding to drink a great deal and dance with just about everyone in an attempt to show them what a great time you’re having without them. You most likely put in a lot of effort to look super-hot at this wedding so they’ll be fully aware of exactly what it is they’re missing out on. “Remember me Zach? I’ve been doing a serious amount of yoga and Pilates. Take a good look at these taut buns, you jerk!” While I completely understand the impulse to do this, please cease and desist! You look like you’re trying too hard, and it’s a rather cringeworthy display that’s not convincing anyone. Just relax and try not to fall on your ass. If it’s the latter, this character is also proceeding to get hammered and proclaiming how happy he or she is for the couple a little too often. The tone becomes increasingly more sarcastic as the night progresses, along with his/her level of inebriation. This is a wedding invitation that’s best declined.

Ill-fitting dress girl: This is a young woman whose dress is a bit of a disaster. It may fit poorly, or just be in poor taste, but she thinks she’s the hottest thing on the floor. The usual prescription to enhancing one’s confidence is “fake it till you make it,” and she really took it to heart.

The surprisingly mature-looking young’un: This could be the extremely talented cousin of one of the newly-weds who steals the show by singing a ballad accompanied by his ukulele. He then dances with you all night—only to confess that he is still a minor and needs his parents’ permission to stay on at the party past 1 am. Oh, and when you sing along to “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze or Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” he’s exclaims, “Oh cool, is this a new song?”

The gay ex: This fellow claims he was once the groom’s lover and walks around with a permanently raised eyebrow and a drink in hand, convinced the marriage is a sham.

The foreign invitee: This is the guest whose command of the English language is very poor. You are seated next to him/her throughout dinner and do your best to communicate using hand-gestures, your mangled Spanish from college, and nodding your head a lot.

The co-dependent matchy-matchy couple: This couple put a great deal of thought into their outfits. If her dress has some sort of silver motif, you can bet his tie will be silver. They are exceptionally happy and want everyone to know it. They keep asking all the single folks, “Oh, when are you going to settle down and get married already?” If you’re married but childless as of yet, they’ll begin pressuring you to pop some babies. And if you aren’t a homeowner yet…well, basically they’re trying to bring everyone up a level, because clearly their way of life is the best way of life. If they’re extremely matchy-matchy, they’ll finish each other’s sentences, but I’m pretty sure that only happens in the movies. They are cringe-inducing to the extreme and are a blight on humanity.

The bore: Often this person is a “says it and sprays it” character. A close talker who just doesn’t stop. You shoot your friends a wistful look as they cluster around the bar or on the dance floor. They look like they’re having fun. The bore grabs your arm and pulls you closer to share yet another conversational gem. This is the sort of bore you can’t shake, because she most certainly will follow you around the room. Another variant of the bore is the dinner table companion utterly lacking in humor. He takes everything you say very seriously, and seems to have taken a stand against the conversational art of banter. You are completely at a loss as to how it is he has any friends. Bore no. 2 types are much easier to shake, but you feel extremely ill-mannered doing it. Fret not, he most likely thinks you’re a moron and would rather be answering emails on his Blackberry.

Shot man: This fellow, already rather inebriated but holding his drink extremely well, insists you do shots with his group of friends despite your resistance. This can be nice if you do shots, but otherwise, putting up about two minutes worth of resistance will be enough to put him off. He may leave with the impression that you’re a boring party-pooper, but he probably won’t remember or care anyway.

The seemingly normal guest with a particularly intriguing occupation: my sister once sat down next to a relative of the bride who seemed like a fairly bland, average individual. During the conversation, dear sister discovered that her new acquaintance was a lesbian who works as a sex therapist. Her specialty: cock massage. I came across a heterosexual male variant of this character recently — the seemingly normal guest with an extremely normal occupation with a particularly intriguing tongue piercing.

The painfully awkward sibling: The awkward sibling may be on the side of either the bride or groom. This character will be socially awkward in the extreme, but it befalls him/her to give a speech lauding the good qualities of the newlyweds or describing how it was they met. The speech will be inordinately long, choppy, and generally just shit. It will be extremely difficult to sit through without shaking your head in disgust or opening your eyes wide in utter horror, but resist! Just grin throughout and clap politely when it’s finished. Feel free to compliment them on how great their speech went later on during the reception. Public speaking is no easy feat.

Your bff for the night: If you’ve been invited to a co-worker’s wedding, you probably won’t know that many people at the event. This is cause for dismay, but you decide to tough it out—maybe you’ll make new friends. As soon as you get to the entrance, you see another lost soul. What good fortune—you’ve stumbled on the one other girl at the wedding who knows no one! You two decide to become best friends for the night, drinking, chatting and commentating. She was your savior, making the event a lot more fun than it otherwise would have been if you had floated around solo. But unless you bump into each other again at some other party, chances are, you’ll probably never speak to her again. If you guys really hit it off, you can always keep in touch via good old Facebook.

The hot one-night-stand: This is a variation of our good friend the T.V.A.F.F.A.W.H.A.S.O.B.I.S.F.W.Y., except that there’s nothing at all illicit about exploring the undeniable chemistry between you two in this instance. It’s a wedding people. These things happen. Whether or not anything serious comes of it, you can canoodle to your heart’s content, guilt-free.

The one: This is the fellow you’re seated next to at dinner or find yourself chatting to over hors d’oeuvres. She’s the girl who plunks down next to you on the catamaran ride that’s been organised as a pre-wedding event. He’s not super attractive to you—he’s not at all your type. He might be balding; he might be too short, or far too tall; you may hate his facial hair; or he’s a bit on either the chunky or scrawny side for your taste. She may not be blonde and leggy; she may have a pathetic chest or an underwhelming bum; she might be packing a bit of extra weight or have stubby fingers. But guess what? It’s been three hours since you first started talking, and the time just flew by. You think, well, maybe my priorities about what I want from a partner are a little skewed, a little too superficial. Maybe it’s time I focused on woman’s beautiful soul, rather than if she could be a part-time model. Maybe I ought to focus on how companionable he is rather than on whether he has broad shoulders and a square jaw like Superman. What the hell, why not give him my number, or take down her email address? And BAM! You guys end up married 6 months to 2 years later.

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Someday, you too might have a balloon husband or wife.

Now, now, I hate to be a wet blanket, but this last personality is the one that you’re least likely to meet, so don’t get too excited about who you might end up bumping into at the next wedding you go to. All the good ones have been snapped up already, and you’ll most likely get stuck with the foreign invitee or the enormously irritating matchy-matchy couple. If you’re lucky, you may meet the hot one-night stand, but he will never text you back so you shouldn’t hook up with him. Just make sure you meet lots of new people, boogie down, and leave the occasion with a few anecdotes to share with friends over brunch tomorrow.



[1] The obverse is true of course—being made to attend a wedding you’re not very keen on that has nothing going for it is torturous.

[2] Also known as the Dancing 3ammo among my Arab friends.