We’re only halfway through the wedding season and I don’t think we’re going to make it unless we all just take a step back and fucking chill the fuck out. I get it: The summer heat, coupled with open bars and reception halls, makes us do strange things. But there’s no reason a wedding should ever end with a bridesmaid crumpled on the floor in pain.
When I say “bridesmaid crumpled on the floor in pain,” by the way, I’m not speaking figuratively. An unnamed woman really was left on the ground after a groomsman, very excited to show off that he was the happiest/drunkest person at the celebration, chose to enter the reception hall by somersaulting all over the place like the party was an audition for an off-brand touring version of Cirque Du Soleil. And like the many unlicensed circus shows I went to as a child, this feat of agility currently going viral ended in tears. But it didn’t have to be this way. It really didn’t.
With the advent of smartphones and hashtags and the unofficial competition to post the best picture of the couple, there’s never been more pressure on wedding guests and participants to “perform” at every moment of the event. Remember how much easier it was when your nerdy uncle just brought a portable photo printer and then pestered people about how was using this amazing the technology that allowed him to print one grainy-as-fuck picture every ten minutes? Those times are gone. Now it’s all about “doing it for the Vine” and making sure that everyone knows you “won the wedding” with your amazing toast, the best 15 seconds of which is on Instagram for everyone to “plz FV and RT” within minutes of the riotous applause at its conclusion.
This is all going to kill someone fairly soon. Don’t believe me? Watch the video again and tell me that that bridesmaid didn’t suffer at least a mild concussion. (You can’t, because you and I both know she did, and you lying about it is only going to strain our relationship.)
So, what can we do to prevent a misfortune like the one above and the countless other stupid accidents in a similar vein? We can stop showing off and trying to make every moment of the wedding as memorable as possible. I’m not suggesting that guests sullenly remain in their seats all night and not have fun, but maybe it’s time to take a break from grandstanding, have a beer on the sidelines, and stop stealing the show. There’s no reason that anyone should be backflipping, twirling fire sticks, or doing trapeze at a wedding (unless they’re trained, and even then). Instead, we should be catching up with old friends and doing “The Hustle” (in a group) on the dance floor. If there’s a short moment for you to roll around on the floor during “Blank Space,” no one’s going to begrudge you that moment, but when you, as a member of the wedding party or a guest, try to make the wedding more memorable in a major way that actually has nothing to do with the happy couple.
If this is going to work, we’re going to need to set some ground rules for wedding behavior.
1. Do not showboat. And if the bride and groom ask you to do something ka-razy, invite them to reconsider. Yes, a somersault entrance sounds fun when you’re just talking about it in “what if” terms, but no one’s going to take your side when you scream, “They told me to! They told me to!” as the ambulance is taking away the father of the groom, whom you’ve accidentally kicked in the face with that awful stiletto heel that the bride made you wear.
2. Do not showboat. Even if you think it’s funny. Even if you think people will love it. Even if you think that the bride and groom will regret not having you show off exactly what you can do with just ten feet of space and a slack line that you got on Amazon. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat through someone doing something kooky (outside of actual and approved toasts and speeches) during the reception and wished a slow and painful death upon them. And yes, that includes my younger self, who once also injured a bridesmaid while lunging for the bridal bouquet, kicking and screeching. Instead of showing off, why not marvel instead at how many young children are dancing to Lil Jon’s legendary “Get Low” even though they have no idea what it means for sweat to drip down their balls?
3. Do not showboat. People will hate you even more if your showboat is unsuccessful, and your failure will likely be quite popular on social media. But even if your showboat is a crowd-pleasing hit, rest assured people will still find a reason to hate you, whether it’s because your dress is ugly or you’re a Republican or because you ruined your own wedding with a lap dance. Just chill. Everything’s going to be all right. Mr. Guffman isn’t in the audience and he’s not going to turn your ill-fated (and impromptu) interpretative dance into a Broadway show in which you’ll be played by the unforgettable Chita Rivera.
I know it’s a little prescriptive, but the idea of just kind of hanging out and having a good time is a novel one that will work. Trust me. And if nothing else, remember this: Every time you showboat, god kills a kitten that once belonged to Emily Post. If that won’t stop you, nothing will.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.