Weddings are like a giant game of Tetris, with lots of moving pieces and many people’s perspectives and feelings to consider. Couples not only have to balance things like budgets, but also juggle their desires and those of their own families and the new family they are marrying into. Event planner Jason Lloyd of _byJasonLloyd tells couples, “At the end of the day, this is a celebration for the two of you so whatever tells your love story in the best way let’s do that.” Event planner Abby Borden of Table Set Go says: “I try to remind everyone, it is all well intended. Grandma might want a chocolate fountain because she had one at her wedding and it was a hit. She just wants your wedding to be successful. It’s all a contribution.”
Another wrinkle to the perfect wedding equation is considering the needs of those attending including a perspective that is often overlooked: the single friend. Witnessing two people commit themselves to each other is a big deal, and as a result, leads to natural introspection. Some unattached friends may not be happy with their current relationship status, recently gone through a break-up or divorce, or are happily single but tired of justifying it to the outside world. These dear souls should also be made to feel included, not sad or shamed on the big day. Here are seven ways to consider your single friends on your wedding day.
Introduce Them to Other Guests Beforehand
While the actual wedding day is just one event, there are most likely many smaller events leading up to the big day—engagement parties, wedding showers, and bachelor and bachelorette parties to name a few. These events may offer the perfect opportunities to make friendships and connections ahead of the actual wedding day. Single friends can be introduced to new friends so the day of the wedding is less intimidating.
Consider Offering a Plus One
Another gracious gesture is offering your single friends a plus one. Abby Borden of Table Set Go says it’s almost expected. Jason Lloyd calls plus ones “a generous gift” and says they are a fun wild-card guest who can really add something special to the event. A plus one says to your guest that you value them and want to make sure they have a person to enjoy the event with. This is especially helpful when single friends are required to travel to the wedding. Budget and guest counts can make this tricky, but remember it is also important to value and take into account the enjoyment of your guests. Plus ones are especially complicated now with smaller guest counts if you’re having a minimony, but are still something to highly consider.
Be Mindful of Your Seating Chart
Seating charts are like complicated million piece puzzles. Jason Lloyd says he considers them a couple’s homework. There are several ways to consider your single friends when making a seating chart, such as not putting them next to your judgmental Aunt who will bombard them with questions about their relationship status all night. Consider your friend’s personality. Put them next to their group such as college or work friends, or find similar like-minded people you think they will hit it off with. This is a great time to consider those people you may have already introduced them to before the wedding. Whatever you do, do not put them at the kids table or a table full of couples. Abby Borden also advises against a singles table.
Rethink the Bouquet and Garter Toss
The bouquet and garter tosses can be uncomfortable moments for your single friends. It forces all the single people to gather, be called out, and labeled as single. It's definitely not fun for someone who may have recently gone through a break-up or is unhappy with their relationship status. You can instead go with an alternative like giving the bouquet and garter to a special friend or couple. Jason Lloyd encourages couples to skip this tradition altogether. Ultimately, the bouquet toss evolved out of necessity. Brides were considered to be lucky so guests would try to have some of that luck rub off on them by touching and even ripping a small piece of the wedding dress. To avoid this, brides in England in the 1800s began throwing their bouquets and garters. There are also some patriarchal undertones to the garter toss as garters were tossed by grooms as a way to prove the marriage was consummated. So, if you're hosting a modern wedding, passing on this tradition is probably a safe bet.
Have an Open Bar
A little alcohol can relax everyone and offer a bit of social lubricate. Abby Borden tells the couples she works with that open bars are assumed by most, unless the couple does not drink. After all, strangers can become best girlfriends in bar bathrooms when a slightly tipsy woman rescues another with a tampon or hand tie. The same concept applies to cocktail receptions. An open bar used responsibly can facilitate everyone having a good time. Just be careful, or that same new best girlfriend might be holding back her new friend’s hair at the end of the night.
Minimize Calling Out Relationship Status
Several wedding traditions call out relationship status in addition to the bouquet and garter toss. Another popular wedding activity is having all the married couples get on the dance floor to see who has been married the longest. This might be uncomfortable for a single person in attendance. Of course, at the end of the day, a single friend will want the bride and groom to do the traditions that are important to them. It is the couple’s day after all, but having that moment of contemplating the inclusivity of your evening will be greatly appreciated by your single friends.
Check In With Them
There will be so much going on during your wedding, but if you can, try to check in with your single friends on the big day. Share a special moment like going to the bathroom to re-apply lipstick or a dance break together. If you happen to see them standing alone looking awkward or sad go up and talk to them. One could even ask a groomsman or bridesmaid to help keep an eye out for them.
Bonus Tip: Remember to Celebrate Your Single Friends’ Accomplishments
Sometimes it is difficult to move through the world as a single person. Society has many special occasions to celebrate couples and people with children, but remember to also celebrate your single friends’ accomplishments. Did your friend recently get a big promotion? Buy them flowers or take them to drinks to celebrate. Did your friend run a marathon? Take them brunch because they are going to need those extra carbs. Your single friends will end up spending a lot of money on you to attend your wedding, so it is nice when they can feel celebrated and valued, too.