The beginning of May means that there’s more in the air than an increase of ragweed and oak pollen. The chirping of birds and wind rustling through the wildflowers slowly begins to mix with the sound of bells ringing, signaling the beginning of another season, one that men and women look forward to with a heady mixture of anticipation and dread: wedding season.
If you’re of a certain age, when spring rolls around, you often find that your social calendar has filled up with friends and relatives racing to tie the knot. Suddenly your weekends are filled with rented tuxes, complaints about bridesmaid’s dresses, rehearsal dinners, awkward toasts and – if you’re especially lucky – an open bar.
For some, weddings are a time for celebration, paying homage to the union of two souls who were lucky to find love. For others, it’s a time to celebrate being single… because weddings can be one of the greatest places to hook up with your fellow young-and-horny types. Weddings get emotions running high… and all sorts of endorphins and hormones that scream “MUST. FIND. SEX. NOW.”
If you know what you’re doing, not only will you have a better time at all of those weddings you have coming up… you’ll get lucky too.
Get There Early.
Forget Wedding Crashers: the ones who do best at weddings are those who do their reconnaissance and lay the groundwork in advance. Weddings are often weekend-long events. Some start as early as Thursday evening with unofficial events for the out-of-towners and members of the wedding party who get in early. The sooner the party starts, the more time you have to not only scope out who’s single (or willing to pretend to be) but also to establish yourself on the scene. Odds are good that you’ll be dealing with people you don’t know and who don’t know you, so getting there early gives you a jump on the competition by establishing a positive first impression and building connections with the other early-bird guests.
Larger weddings – ones that are more than just immediate family and close friends – tend to be a blending of diverse and separate social groups whose only connections to one another are a relationship with the bride and/or groom; large numbers of them will be strangers to one another. People tend to gravitate to the folks that they already know; we’re most comfortable with what’s familiar, after all. Once these groups have been established, it can be difficult to insert yourself into them1 or to extract someone from them when the time comes. Establishing yourself as a friendly face early on will make them hang out with you more, giving you an instant in when the others start arriving. This in turn increases what’s known as your social proof: you have these other people hanging out with you, establishing your bona fides as someone worth getting to know.
Plus: having people to hang out with means you’re going to have more fun at the wedding, regardless of whether you hook up or not.
Obviously, if you’re going to be looking to score, you’re going to have to talk to people, but a wedding is not a singles bar. You don’t want to be prowling the reception like a hyena, looking for someone you can separate from the herd and take down. If you’ve been hanging back only talking to one or two people before circling like a shark, you’re just going to stand out as a creeper – no matter how tight you are with the wedding party. Similarly, you can’t just plant yourself at the bar and wait for people to come to you. Gents, all that will do is get you drunk faster; ladies, this is going to cut the number of quality guys approaching you down significantly.
Similarly, you can’t just focus all of your interest and attention on one person. It’s overly intense – and intimidating! – under the best of circumstances. At a social gathering like a wedding, it’s just weird. It displays lower emotional intelligence – a turn off – and tells everyone that you are there for one thing and one thing only: to fuck somebody. Which, let’s face it, is a pretty shitty reason to go to a wedding.
(Yes, I’m aware of the irony inherent in telling you this in an article about how to score at a wedding. Move along.)
If you want to up the odds of landing that hot bridesmaid or groomsman, you need to be willing to mingle. This means you have to embrace (or, in some cases, invent) your inner social butterfly and start making a point of talking to people, even people you may not be all that interested in or who bore you to tears. Even if Great-Aunt Petunia is bending your ear about her cheese rind collection, you need to smile and take part before making your gracious exit and talking to other people.
You see, you want to be approachable. You want to be seen as having fun. We like fun. We like fun people. Fun people make us feel good, therefore we want to hang out with them. Someone who’s out talking to others, laughing, sharing jokes or fond reminiscences about the groom as a young man is going to be someone who’s worth getting to know because they’re clearly enjoying themselves. Someone sitting at a table by themselves on his or her third vodka soda and staring out with dead eyes on the other hand looks like their pissed off or miserable, no matter how much they may be loving the party on the inside. Standing around like Jimmy O’Sullen will only inspire people to give you all the space you clearly need.
Go Easy on The Booze
Just because there’s an open bar doesn’t mean you need to take that as a challenge. A drink or two to be social and one for the toasts and you should be more than fine. More than that and you start running the risk of serious faux pas. Nobody likes the sloppy drunk at the wedding. Or the belligerent drunk. Or the drunk “baby come back, it’s not too late” guy. For that matter, you want to avoid getting so smashed that you end up going off with someone you wouldn’t hook up with if you were stone-cold sober.
Plus, booze makes you sleepy. You don’t want to miss out on mind-blowing sex because you collapsed into unconsciousness after the reception.
While we’re at it: Gents, don’t hit on anyone who’s clearly drunk. You don’t want to be that guy. Ladies: keep a firm count of the number of drinks you’ve had. You’re far more likely to find dudes trying to ply you with alcohol so they can turn that “no” into a “shurrrrrrreeee.”
Utilize a Strategic Display of Vulnerability
I hate to say it, but Wedding Crashers got this one right, guys.
Men are socialized not to display emotions, barring sports or viewings of Brian’s Song, Field of Dreams or the end of The Iron Giant.
A strategic display of emotional vulnerability can be surprisingly powerful. That little moment of letting one’s guard down and showing what you’re really feeling – even for a fleeting second – can be intoxicating. There are reasons why so many romance novels feature a cold or emotionally withdrawn male romantic interest who lets the veneer crack just a little when he’s around the heroine.
Please note: I’m not saying that you should fake it. Just let yourself honestly get caught up in the joy of the day. Let yourself shed a tear or choke up a little while you’re making a toast to the happy couple and watch how women respond to you.
Master The Toast
Speaking of toasts: this is one area where people get things wrong all the time.
Different weddings will have different times for toasts to the bride and groom; some restrict them to the rehearsal dinner. Others allow for toasts during the reception. Make sure you only propose a toast when it’s appropriate, otherwise you end up looking like you’re trying to steal the spotlight.
The good thing about a wedding toast is that you can display a little appealing cleverness and genuine emotion – traits that make you look good – while also wishing the best for your friends.
Of course… it’s also possible to screw it up beyond all saving and ruin any work you’ve been putting in to hooking up with that bridesmaid who’s been flirting with you. A successful wedding toast is like a knife. Simple, short and comes to the point very quickly. You don’t want to have a long, rambling, meandering story about the bride or groom that veers drastically off topic only to be wrenched back at the very end.
If you want to make a toast – and this is a good place to let that brief display of emotion show – you want to follow these rules.
1. KEEP IT CLEAN
No jokes about sex. No jokes about exes. No jokes about that time you and the groom got crazy drunk with those two girls down at Tijuana and you couldn’t find your shorts afterwards. No TMI revelations about you or anyone else while you’re there. There is nothing more excruciatingly embarrassing than listening to someone – usually drunk off his ass – make a toast laden with sexual commentary while the bride’s parents and grandparents squirm with discomfort. If you’re going to make a toast, it needs to be something you can say in front of a priest, a rabbi and your grandmother… all at the same time.
2. This Ain’t The Improv
You’re not there to deliver a comedy routine, you’re there to share something about the bride and/or groom and wish them happiness. A joke – singular – is welcome, as long as it fits into rule #1. Don’t get carried away.
3. It’s About Them
Sharing a memory about the bride or groom that you were part of is good. Talking about yourself: not so good, even if you eventually drag it back to them in the end. Keep them as the central focus.
4. Keep It Short
The ideal toast is short. The longer you ramble on, the less people are listening and the more they’re wishing you’d just shut up and sit down already. You’re not giving the St. Crispin’s Day speech. Keep it to 90 seconds at the longest.
Guys: Want to stand out from the crowd? Want to be the most popular guy at the wedding? You need to get out there on the dance floor.
First of all: this is where the women will be: out on the dance floor, having fun. You want to be where they are… and not with a look of pained obligation on your face. Remember what I said about how we like people who have fun because they make us have fun as well? That’s especially true here. If you can get out on the floor and actually enjoy yourself, you’re going to find that women are going to want to actually spend time with you. You aren’t going to get the same results hanging around the bar or the buffet line. Sorry.
Second of all: women love a man who can dance. If you can dance, you will find yourself swamped by female attention. Straight talk: I can swing dance. Without any false modesty, I’m really good at swing. Every wedding I’ve been to, if I have a chance to show off a little, I’d take it. Whenever I did, suddenly, I couldn’t make it back to my seat without another woman coming up and saying “I want to dance with you. Now.” It will also give you a chance to get in close with the woman you’re hoping to get even closer with later. Getting her heart pumping, slightly out of breath, eyes glowing with excitement… you see where this leads, right?
Pro tip: if nothing else, learn the basics of swing, waltz and fox trot. These three dances cover wide range of tempos and musical styles and will get you through 99% of the of music you’re likely to find at a wedding.
Third: you need to dance with lots of people, not just the person you’re trying to hook up with… and not just the slow songs Being the social guy who’s out having fun, doing a turn with the some of the older guests or a few of the other bridesmaids establishes you as someone of serious social value. You’re making other people happy and helping them have fun. This will make you much more desirable. Trust me on this.
Work The Logistics
It’s the end of the evening. Everybody is bathed in that post-party glow (or just an alcoholic haze). The bride is about to through the bouquet and make her grand exit. You’ve been sneaking smoldering looks and increasingly less subtle flirty jokes with the hottie you met at the rehearsal dinner… it should be all over bar the squishy noises and post-coital cigarettes, right?
If you haven’t handled the logistics, you could still be going home alone at the end of the evening.
Logistics will screw you every time if you don’t take care of them early – and not in that happy, kind-of-sticky way. Is there an after-party, and if so, is she going? Is the reception at the hotel where everybody is staying? Is everybody riding back in their own cars, or are there carpools, chartered buses or limos? Did she come by herself or did she catch a ride with a friend? Is everybody staying at the same hotel, or are you all spread out across the city? Will he or she have bridal party duties or events that require her attention early the next morning? Does he have his own room, or is he sharing with a friend? Do you have your own room?
You need to work all of these details out in advance before trying to move things back to your room… or theirs. The sooner you know that your cutie is supposed to give her friend a ride back to a different hotel, the sooner you can start making the work-arounds. The two of you may be feeling the heat, but if he’s going to be disappearing for a half-hour while hauling his drunk-ass roommate back to the hotel, he may well decide that he’d be better off collapsing there and just getting your number in the morning.
Remember: a little preparation and a lot of charm can make the difference between a ho-hum wedding and a night to remember… for you and the happy couple.
Did I miss any critical tips? Ever have a wedding hook-up turn into something more? Share in the comments! And don’t forget to like the Dr. NerdLove Facebook Page, where I’ll be sharing Dr. NerdLove’s patented, never-fail wedding toast.
- PHRASING! [↩]