A casual wedding hook-up is something to maybe text home about and not much else. But a true love connection between two strangers who meet at a wedding—now that's the stuff of Hallmark movies (seriously). As huge fans of romance, fate, and a really, really good love story over here at BRIDES, we tracked down some real-life couples who actually found "the one" while celebrating the happily-ever-after of someone else.
From photo booth canoodling and last-minute accessory adjustments to made-up dance moves, here are their stories—plus, their takeaways for how guests at the singles table can improve their chances of making a connection that lasts longer than the after-party.
Kristie & Ian
Kristie: Ian and I were part of the same friend network, but miraculously, had never had a conversation.
Ian: For this wedding in Michigan, we were both in the wedding party, but I arrived at the rehearsal late. I remember thinking, "Oh, there's Kristie. She's not going to remember who I am." We'd graduated college in 2007 and this was 2015. But when I walked into the dinner, I seem to remember Kristie casually passing by me to say, "There's an open seat by me, Ian."
K: There was literally no other place for Ian to sit. [Laughs] The only spot was next to me.
I: But then I got stuck talking to the groom's sister-in-law for the whole meal.
K: Imagine! I was like, "Well, he'd rather talk to this sister-in-law than me."
I: When she finally turned away, I found Kristie. It was a little strange because we'd never had a conversation, much less a meaningful conversation, but I noticed a connection. It was just a feeling in the midst of the conversation. I've definitely wondered if the wedding atmosphere contributed because that seems like an easy conclusion to draw.
K: If anything, it maybe added to it. We were connecting on a very deep level, and having the special occasion of a wedding and being dressed up in a beautiful place and surrounded by our close friends was just icing on the cake.
I: A big part of it was that we were among old friends. That made us feel more comfortable than if we'd been surrounded by strangers. For people who have introverted personalities like Kristie and I have, that probably unconsciously made us both more open.
K: Even though it's kinda silly to have lost the last eight years together, we were very different people in college. Maybe we wouldn't have connected on that level back then. I'm really grateful things happened when they did. On the plane back home from the wedding, I bought tickets to visit him in two weeks because I felt so strongly that there was something really special about Ian.
Advice: Take Risks and Recruit the Photobooth as a Wingman!
K: What's nice about a wedding is that you're surrounded by friends and family in a safe environment, so it's a great place to take a chance. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you're connecting with somebody on a deep level, there's almost no risk involved when you can fall back on a friend or a mom if the experience becomes anything other than positive. I'd encourage you to suspend disbelief and be more adventurous than you might normally be in a non-wedding scenario.
I: We also took a photo booth picture at the reception (see above!)
K: I remember being really nervous. When you're talking to somebody new, the conversation can have uncomfortable lulls, so I grabbed Ian like, "Take a photo with me!" We put on these silly hats and at the end, I gave him this big hug—which is a huge move for me, because like Ian said, we're both very shy. He loved that so much. You can see in the picture that he's just so happy.
I: Yeah, that was a really big moment. The next morning when I woke up, that was the first thing I thought about—Kristie hugging me.
Nic & Jesse
Nic: We officially met at our mutual friend's Santa Fe wedding in 2013 (we found out later that she'd tried to set us up multiple times prior). After the rehearsal, we'd all gone out to a rooftop bar. Jesse was on one end of a long table and I was on the other, and he made an inappropriate joke. Some really dirty song was playing, and Jesse goes, "I lost my virginity to this song."
Jesse: It was, like, Justin Bieber, so the joke was that I would've had to lose my virginity very, very recently—even though my toddler son was the ring bearer. Nic screwed up her face and her jaw dropped.
N: But he thought I was offended, and I actually thought he was funny!
J: I thought she was mortified, but I remember thinking, "She's going to be the fun one."
N: We flirted pretty substantially, and at one point in the night I asked Jesse to take a photo of me and a male friend. Jesse ended up photo-guillotining the guy's head off on purpose and just zoomed in really close on me.
J: I think that's a pretty effective way to send a message.
N: But I wasn't sure he was into it until the day of the wedding. The entire bridal party had lined up to go into the service, and for some reason, I was really nervous. All of a sudden, I felt two hands on my neck...
J: Geez! Don't say it that way! It was a delicate, soft touch!
N: Let me finish! He said, "Let me get that for you" and adjusted my pearl necklace. That made me 1,000 times more nervous but also like, "This guy likes me." The bridesmaids proceeded and then I turned to watch Jesse and his son walk down the aisle. And it sounds ridiculous, but it's legitimately what happened: everything melted away and I just saw Jesse. I told the other bridesmaids, "I'm going to marry that guy." He later found me at the reception when I was sitting out the "Electric Slide" and said something to the effect of, "You could be out there doing nothing, and you'd still be the best-looking one out there." AND THEN HE WALKED AWAY. Mic drop!
J: I wasn't beyond being a little bold.
N: A week after the wedding, I emailed him and the subject line was something like "Thanks again for adjusting my necklace."
J: I brought her a necklace on our first date, and now we're married.
Advice: Be Your Awkward Self and Don't Go for "the Close."
N: If I like someone, I flirt awkwardly. At the welcome picnic, we were wearing similarly-colored salmon outfits, and he was like, "Oh, hey! We match." And I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was very antagonistic when I was trying to be flirtatious!
J: It was the equivalent of one person going for a high-five and one person going for a fist bump.
N: Luckily, I had friends there to keep me in check if I was being weird. Still, you have to open yourself up. I'm an introvert naturally, and it can be tough if you're shy. Get some liquid courage and key in your friends.
J: You need at least one person there as a barometer of your behavior, so lock them into your game plan. But don't have too much of a plan. I wasn't looking to hook up with somebody. When I gave myself that rule, I didn't have a specific aim or goal, and that just opened the door for whatever sort of connections were going to happen. Trying to make it all happen usually doesn't work. If you're not focused on going for "the close," you can actually be more open.
N: Make yourself present. I made Jesse see me in that way. Unless it's, like, the groom's sister or something, you have nothing to lose! If Jesse hadn't been interested, I'd never have to see him again.
J: You just have to unabashedly be yourself. Be able to partake in the repartee, and if you can't hold your own that way, find another way. I can't dance, so I did a lot of talking. Make it about the experience and the people, and good things come.
N: There's a bunch of professional photos from the night where you can clearly see we were purposefully in each other's orbit.
J: The one where you're dancing and looking up at me is the best (see above!)
N: Yeah, we have that one framed in our living room right now.
Tiffany & Dusty
Tiffany: It was my roommate's wedding in Savannah, Georgia and I was a bridesmaid. The entire wedding party had to do all of those silly, typical dances like the chicken dance. After that was over, I went over to get food because everyone else had eaten. Dusty came up to me and said, "You look stunning."
Dusty: Awkward enough, she was with her mom sitting at a table eating.
T: It didn't feel weird, though. I was immediately flattered and thought he was super cute. Later, he asked me to dance.
D: I floored her with my amazing dancing skills. When you volunteer a lot with children, you learn a lot of dances. So how could Tiffany not be into somebody "feeding the chicken" with such skill?
T: No one has ever heard of this. It's ridiculous. He put one hand on his hip and then threw his other hand out like he was throwing chicken feed. This was so funny because he does not dance with me now. He was totally doing it just to hook me.
D: I don't even think I've danced since this wedding! There was just something about that August day, where I knew you better do something here, boy. This is your chance.
T: At the end of the night I drove a few hours home to my parent's house. Now, this was back in 2008, before you had smartphones in hand, and by the time I'd gotten home he'd managed to friend me and write on my Facebook wall his top three favorite dance moves of mine. The top one was "feed the chickens." We exchanged phone numbers, and the rest is history. We're married with a toddler.
Advice: Follow Your Gut and Make Your Own Opportunities.
D: I'd say when you have that gut feeling, that instinct, go with it! There's a reason you have it and why there's an opportunity. And make opportunities if there isn't an obvious one! It's so crazy, because I'm not the person to go up to somebody, so I must have known somewhere deep down inside that Tiffany was something special if I was going to do something that out of character. It had to be some kind of intuition. So put yourself out there. Lean in!
T: I feel like the fun of the reception had more to do with our connection than the romance of the ceremony. We were just dancing and laughing and being natural. Where else will you do the chicken dance and be silly like that? Just make sure you look good! You never know who's watching!