Wedding Season Survival Guide Part 2

The second part of this survival guide is way overdue. I apologize for that. Writing it took a good deal of discipline though. In case you missed it, the first part focused on the bridal party and the bride. Do's and Don'ts, tips for the Maid of Honor and things like that. Make sure to check it out when you have a second! If you've read part one, you know that I am unapologetically blunt and give tough love. Part 2 is more for the guest of a wedding. I'll take you through awkward moments, budgeting and dress codes. If you have any funny stories or extra tips, feel free to add them in the comments below!

Tips To Avoid Awkward Moments When You're Single
Always being the single girl at all functions, I've become something of an expert on this one in particular. I'm 25 years-old so I'm also at the prime marriage and baby-making age apparently. These are the common questions/comments single gals field when they are brave enough to attend a weddings solo, my thoughts about them and finally my advice on how to handle them.

  • "Where's your boyfriend?" - because not having one is out of the question (insert large dose of sarcasm here). Some ladies like the single life and have other priorities like their career or travel or maybe even both. Or perhaps you just broke up with your boyfriend and the wound is still fresh (ouch). This question should be banned from small talk. Take a breath, smile and say "I came by myself." Sometimes that will make them just uncomfortable enough not to pry further but if they must, own that single status loud and proud. I would say something like, "No, I'm not seeing anyone at the moment. I'm focusing on my career right now and traveling the world but thank you for asking. It was good seeing you again." And walk away. Just walk away. Regardless of what you say, it's all about tone of voice. If you sound regretful at not having a boyfriend, they'll keep prying. But if you're confident in your declaration, there's no more questions for them to ask.
  • "Let me introduce you to my nephew, Xx. He's such a nice boy." - RUNNNNN!! Nothing mortifies me more than when older relatives play matchmaker at a wedding. Everyone knows who is single and solo. It's so obvious and when they are ecstatic about getting two people together, it's the most obnoxious thing on the planet. To be honest, I would crack some sort of inappropriate joke or lie UNLESS it's my family doing said matchmaking. I know it's not the most gracious way to handle the situation but it's worked in the past. If you want to keep a good face, you can agree and say that would be nice or just say something like "you know, I would love to but I have too much going on in my life right now to start something serious." Maybe meeting him and getting it over with isn't such a bad thing. You never know.
  • Last but not least, sometimes you are seated next to the only other single guy or, worse, at a table with all old people or kids. It's not the actual seating arrangement that can be awkward but the fact you know it was done strategically. All I have to say is embrace it. Do you honestly care? Kids can be kind of hilarious at a wedding and old people tell awkward jokes. At least the guys do. And if it's that single guy, who cares? He's probably feeling as awkward as you. I would play it off and act like you've known each other for years. It will most likely help you avoid the above two questions in the process.

Tips To Avoid Awkward Moments When You're In A Relationship Or A Newlywed
Clearly this is not a topic I am an expert in. I can hardly make a relationship work, let alone an engagement and the following marriage. But I have asked around for a few tips. There are two main questions you are plagued with when in a relationship...

  • "Will you be getting engaged soon?" - First of all, it's none of their business and completely inappropriate. That is your business, no one else's. Yet the graceful response would be to say that you're enjoying being a couple right now and will decide if and when the time is right. If that isn't enough for them, I give you full permission to pull out some snark.
  • "So when are you thinking about starting a family?" - There are a million reasons why I am not ok with this question. Again, it's none of their business. Even more, the couple in question could be trying already and having fertility issues. Or, they might already be pregnant and aren't ready to tell everyone yet. Even worse, maybe they recently miscarried. Regardless, it is absurd that people feel the need to ask these questions and completely out of line. Avoid the conversation altogether by telling them when the time is right, it will happen. It's vague yet satisfying. If you want to discuss with them, by all means, go for it.

How To Budget For Weddings
When you get to be in your mid-twenties to thirties, wedding season can get out of control and expensive. Plane tickets, hotel fees...presents alone are a HUGE monetary commitment. Coming from a mid-twenty who has recently started her own business, it's tough. Even if you're married or in a serious relationship, that's two people you have to consider. These are some of my best tips for you:

  • Prioritize the weddings. Two or three in a year isn't so bad but I've had friends that had a whopping 7 weddings in one year and at least half were destination. If you cannot afford all the weddings you've been invited to, prioritize the couples. Rank who you are closest with or who is most important in your life. If you haven't seen cousin Susie in four years, do you really need to attend her wedding? I'm sure they'll understand and if not, that's their problem. Also take into consideration local weddings versus weddings you need to travel for. Just because your friend is getting married in Greece does not mean you should feel obligated to attend. To be honest, they're probably expecting more no's than yes's.
  • Set a maximum price limit for gifts. Budget out what you can spend total on all the weddings and set a limit for what you give them. Everyone gets the same price gift and you don't end up in wedding debt.
  • Be economical with your fashion. 7 weddings does not mean 7 dresses. Think of the timeline and the guest list. You can probably get away with 3-4 dresses and 2 pairs of shoes that you already own. Also look into services like Rent the Runway which are much more costly than buying a couple hundred dollar dresses.
  • Travel Smart. I shared several great travel tips in the first survival guide. Check it out here. I also having a post coming up that talks specifically about travel for weddings so stay tuned...

Decoding The Dress Code
I've got your back...

  • White Tie: This is the most formal of all dress codes. Think Oscars. Ladies, an exquisite dress would be your best option, definitely floor-length, black or another neutral color. Play princess for a night. Guys, a formal tux is necessary. Ask a stylist for recommendations.
  • Black Tie: Ladies, you need a floor-length dress. You might be able to get away with a cocktail dress but only if it's the epitome of elegance and class. Long dresses are safe. Not maxi dresses, long formal dresses. For black tie, unlike white, you can get colorful with your dress. Think the Golden Globes. Guys, a tux is necessary. 
  • Black-Tie Optional/Formal: In other words, it's not too formal and you are free to wear a cocktail dress if you so choose. The long dresses can follow black tie rules but the cocktail dress must be formal and in a neutral color. Guys, a tux or formal suit dark in color will work.
  • Semi-Formal: Dressy but not strictly so. A cocktail dress would be appropriate, a long skirt or a little black dress. Guys, a suit is appropriate that's dark in color but a tux is also acceptable. 
  • Cocktail: A cocktail dress was literally named for this attire. Something at or below the knee, sophisticated and classy. Guys can get away with a jacket and tie, no tux necessary. I personally believe that Cocktail and Semi-Formal are pretty much the same thing.
  • Casual: Light and comfortable. Ladies, a sundress, maxi or casual cocktail dress would be good. Don't wear anything too fancy or you'll look out of place. Guys, a button down and slacks with or without a tie would be acceptable. Jacket optional.

If, God forbid, they say "Dress Appropriately" which I have recently seen on an invitation, and you're unsure ask someone close to the wedding planning, if not the bride herself. They should have put something more specific on the invitation in the first place so if they're annoyed at the question, it's their own fault. There are a few specific dress codes that you should consider in detail because of their location. 

  • Garden: Wear grass-friendly shoes. This is important because stilettos or any thin heel will sink. Wedges are ok but if the ground isn't even it could make walking difficult. No one wants to face plant at a wedding. I recommend a nice pair of sandals or flats for the ceremony and bringing heels for the reception if there is going to be a hard floor. Attire is casual but dressy like a flowy dress or two-piece outfit. 
  • Beach: Same as garden for the shoe issue. Avoid thin heels. Wedges could work for sand but I personally wouldn't risk it. Dresses should be light and flowy. Beach weddings are often the epitome of romantic so take that into consideration when choosing an outfit.

Don't forget to check out Part 1 of the survival guide as well as the Bachelorette Party Gift Guide!