I'll admit it: I'm not a fan of weddings. Nothing fills me with dread more than the invite in the mail or, these days, Facebook. The thought of finding a useful, beautiful and hopefully not bank-breakingly expensive gift, the dread of dressing up and... oh God, the small talk with people you don't know.
Don't get me wrong - the thought of two people finding each other and wanting to spend their lives together is wonderful. But is it too much to hope I could go see the ceremony, give a big hug and then scarper my dateless self away?
Thankfully, me and my +1 of shyness are not alone. Many of us are getting solo invites to weddings from old uni friends, work mates or friends without a connected social group.
We can only check our iPhones or run out for a cigarette as a distraction for so long - so here are some coping strategies for making the most of someone's big day.
Go looking your best and dress to impress (though don't show up the bridal party). Don't forget to read the dress code and ask for tips on how the others may dress. Feeling happy in your appearance will help remove some awkwardness.
"Find the oldies!", says Sydneysider Amy Rudder. It's true, they love a chat, they'll make sure you're fed, chattered and thoroughly interrogated in the most charming of ways. Also? Killer dance moves.
Don't run out
You're in for the long haul, hopefully just like the married couple. Etiquette dictates you can't leave until at least the cutting of the cake. Sure, you could fake an allergic reaction to mushrooms hidden in a vol-au-vant and leave but they'll be upset. Don't ask why. They just will.
Perhaps small talk isn't so hard at a wedding when you focus on why you're all there. Ask people about their dress, the wedding service, the couple, the venue or that even strange old aunt who appears a bit squibbly and has taken to dancing around her handbag. The potential for chatter is endless.
There's nothing like a distraction - ask to help out in some way whether it's handing out drinks, getting people to sign the guestbook, pilling up presents, taking extra photos, helping on DJ duties or even pulling back a tired and emotional bridesmaid's hair in the bathroom (look, it's a long story).
It's unlikely you'll be the only person there on their own and, if the bridal party are considerate, they'll seat you with people you'll get along with. Find the others and make a new friend.
Get the gossip on the attendees
When you're relatively unknown at a wedding reception, there's always one person who wants to give you the rundown on everyone in the room. Often, it's offers hilarious insight into who people are and how they're viewed or, as Bianca Martin of St Kilda discovered, rather upsetting as she learned from an attendee that her boyfriend was intimately known to one of the exotic dancers who had performed at the buck's night the week before.
The art of wasting time
All the little minutes will add up no matter how long the night may seem to you. If it's all getting a bit too much, take a rather long tour of the foyer, scrutinise some artwork, spend a long while in the bathroom to reapply make up or rearrange yourself. There's 15 minutes gone or, if you waste time at an elite level, at least half an hour.
Use your phone for something other than distraction
The last two weddings I've attended have had friends and family who couldn't attend. Want to help share the big day with them? Offer up your phone to send out photos or tweets. One friend used her phone to live-stream the entire wedding to relatives over in Scotland using Skype.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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