What to Do When You Don’t Know Anyone at a Wedding (Except Your Date)

An Indian wedding with guests walking under marigold arches.

Perhaps your significant other has a long-time friend that you just haven’t gotten to know yet. At first, you are excited to go to a wedding—food, drink, dancing, celebrations of love!—but then you realize that no one you know will be there. How will you handle the situation? As it turns out, there are plenty of good tips for both having a good time and not doing anything rude when attending a wedding where you don’t know anyone but your date.

Start off Right with a Clear RSVP

Most people have this down, but when you are an “unknown” for the wedding couple, chances are that they offered your significant other a plus-one and don’t know you. Make sure that when your partner RSVPs, they do a good job conveying that they are bringing a guest and also write how to spell your name. Nothing is quite as much of a letdown as meeting the bride for the first time and seeing her eyes widen in alarm because you aren’t on her seating chart. This is something your partner should be able to handle on their own, but people get busy, so it never hurts to confirm with them that this has been done.

Focus on the Certainties, not the Pie-in-the-Sky Dreams

All of us have seen a movie where a girl, alone at a wedding, meets interesting and fun people and has the time of her life. Expect that will not happen. Most likely, you’ll get a drink or a piece of cake, you’ll get some interesting people watching, and you’ll go home. By focusing on what will definitely happen, you are less likely to feel disappointed when you leave the wedding without a new best friend. This isn’t saying that you should have a negative attitude about the whole event; just know that anything more than the bare minimum at a wedding where you don’t know anyone is a pleasant surprise. Maybe you really love the venue and get to enjoy its beauty, or maybe you get to dance to your favorite song later in the evening. These little positives should be the focus of your time there, and not the absence of your friends.

Plan to Be Your Lowest-Drama Self that Day

A woman at an Indian wedding wearing a pink sparkly dress and holding a cocktail.

Even more so than at weddings where you are well-known, as a guest at a wedding where you don’t know anyone you have to embody your lowest-drama kind of self. This doesn’t imply that you are “high drama” the rest of the time, but just realize that the bride probably already knows of half a dozen folks to keep an eye on. If you have a lot of other things going on in your life, resolve to keep things calm for the few hours of the wedding. You can get on the phone and talk to your best girlfriend after the wedding, or you can very subtly step out if an emergency call comes up during the reception, but do everything you can to minimize your personal experiences’ affect on this wedding.

Take it a Step Further: Be a Fun and Helpful Guest

An Indian wedding with pink and orange decor.

Lone guests aren’t usually asked for help with things like moving chairs or finding missing groomsmen, but you can still be a helpful person. Be the one who starts a fun conversation at your dinner table; jump in on line dances to make sure the dance floor stays hopping, and find a chair for a fellow guest who may be swaying a little too much after drinking. Being upbeat, cheerful, and easygoing will add to the enjoyment of everyone present, and you’ll make a great first impression on the friends who got you invited to the wedding.

Relax, but Don’t Let Loose

This probably goes without saying, but something about an open bar tends to throw our inhibitions out the window. This can be even more true when we don’t know anyone, feel awkward, and don’t know who to talk to. Do whatever you can to avoid letting alcohol do the talking for you at a wedding where you don’t know anyone—it’s not a great first impression. Devise a little game for yourself, like carrying a glass of water around between drinks to space out your intake while also hydrating. Your body will love you for it the next day, and you’re less likely to break an ankle in your heels, too. This strategy applies to other aspects of the wedding: don’t be the most intense dancer, or the person who takes the biggest piece of cake. By blending into the crowd, you get to enjoy yourself without any kind of scene.

Being a wedding guest can be a bit less fun if you don’t know anyone, but it is possible to have a really nice night if you follow some simple guidelines. You’ll grow closer to your date while also getting to know some people who are close to them.

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