Ahh, weddings. There’s champagne at the bar, cake on the table, and love in the air—which makes it the perfect opportunity to set up your friends, no? It’s hard to resist the urge to make a little match, so we asked an expert for the things you can’t forget if you decide playing matchmaker is at the top of your wedding to-do list.
Before you set up a pair of your friends, there are a few things you must keep in mind. “No matter the context (at your wedding or otherwise!), always consider whether the people you’re setting up are actually relationship material,” says love and relationship expert Lauren Frances. “Would you want to date them?” She emphasizes the importance of knowing whether the two people in question are in sync when it comes to their relationship goals. “If you try to match up someone who is newly single with a friend who is ready for a serious relationship," she says, "it will probably end badly. If Nancy is bitter about her divorce, don’t expect Mark to cheer her up for more than a night or two!” Instead, Frances suggests trying to match singles who are both “relationship ready” for the best romantic results.
How do you know if they’ll be a good match? “Look for common lifestyle preferences," says Frances. "For example, a teetotaler and a big partier won’t fit. And see if they have common relationship goals. If they’re on the same page when it comes to things like marriage and children, and are of appropriate ages, you’re in luck! If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask what they’re ready for. And if they say they’re just getting back out there after a horrific breakup, spare your best friend and believe them!”
So, should you check to see if they’re open to being set up? Not necessarily. “You can let them know what you’re thinking, or you can go undercover by seating them together to just see what happens,” says Frances. “I call this ‘low-impact, high-value matchmaking.’ They’ll have to rub elbows throughout the night, and you’ll get a real gold star at the end when you say, ‘I’m so glad you hit it off, what a great surprise!’”
Here’s how to make a setup work at a wedding: “Setups are incredibly easy, especially at a destination wedding—when they are your willing captives!" Frances explains. "You have all sorts of opportunities to make them stand out to each other, from having them lead games or activities to putting them in charge of wrangling people for cocktails at the bar. Ask them to help, then team them up. That should do the trick! Keep it casual and low-key. If they’re both in the wedding party, pair them up to walk down the aisle together, then seat them together at dinner. Give them a fun assignment, like getting guests on the dance floor or wrangling the flower girls and ring bearers—literally anything that’s wedding related that they can do together!”
Want a little extra credit? “Before your big day, get in touch with all of the singles who will be coming and ask if they’re interested in meeting someone for something serious,” says Frances. “Then give them first dibs on your seating chart. Let them decide who they might want to meet. Super-picky friends can do a little Facebook or Instagram stalking beforehand (to make sure the person in question is their type), then choose their own seat!”