Don't Be a Sh*t Show: Advice From a Serial Wedding Guest

As someone who has been to countless weddings, Jen Doll knows all the ins and outs of attending and taking part in someone else's big day . . . for better or worse. She's written about these experiences in her upcoming memoir, Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest (out today), in which she shares some thoughtful (and funny) insights into dating relationships, marriage, and friendship. I recently spoke with Jen about some of the wedding tips she's learned along the way helpful for brides and guests alike. Read what she had to say below!

How to Be a Bad Guest

The number one way you can be a really bad wedding guest is to only think about yourself. Whether that involves getting wasted drunk and being a total sh*t show, which I have done, to my great regret, or being so focused on your own situation that you're not seeing the broader events for what it is.

Weddings are wonderful because they're about love and they're about people you love coming together and saying "we're going to be together and we want all of you here to see this and to respect and support our promise to each other. And you're important to us, too, and that's why we've invited you to be here."

If the wedding guests are too focused on their own problems and can't get over stuff, I mean we've all been there, I've been there. There are weddings that I should have just kind of gotten over myself and smiled and dealt with it and not had six glasses of wine. Then your feelings come out and you regret doing that. So I think being a sh*t show is one really easy way to annoy everyone, including yourself.

That said, there's a balance of doing the right thing at a wedding, following what the bride and groom want you to do, and also asserting your own independence and adult womanhood in a positive, rather than negative way. So you don't have to go tanning before the wedding just because the bride asks you to. But you should behave well. You should be nice. You should show up on time.

Things the Bride and Groom Do That Annoy the Guests

A lot of times the best friend suddenly becomes a different person because they're getting married. All of these things that they might not worry about in normal life — or have anything to do with the friendship or family relationship, the connection that you have to this person — suddenly they care deeply about. Things like floral arrangements and perfect wedding hashtag napkins and who can and who can't bring a date and how much things are going to cost.

In planning any party there are a lot of complications and people may be stressed out, but I feel like the number one thing for me that I've been annoyed with as a guest is when I feel like suddenly the people getting married stop seeing the important event and all of the interrelationships for what they are and become incredibly focused on little things that aren't going to last beyond the day.

Another thing that annoys me personally is the expectation that goes with the bouquet toss where all of the single women are supposed to want to jump in the air and scream and claw each others' eyes out to grab this thing, this bouquet. When in reality, we all come from very different situations and have different feelings about whether we are single or with someone or not. So these blanket expectations that come with weddings that people sort of just follow along with, without considering all the individual people there and how we live in 2014, and how we all have different opinions — that can be really annoying I think to guests, too.

How to Pick the Perfect Date For a Wedding

I mean, there's no perfect wedding date. And when you learn so much from every person you go to a wedding with, I think that sometimes a bad date is just as valuable as a good date, maybe more valuable. Having gone to weddings with one boyfriend who really just wasn't as social as I was, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I realized that I did want someone who was a little more flexible and social. You want someone on par with you. For instance, if someone does not want to wear a suit to a wedding — unless you're going to a very casual wedding — you should check him off your list. The key is it's someone who wants to be there. (And the wardrobe in that situation was simply an offshoot of his lack of desire to really be there.)

Make sure if you're bringing someone to a wedding that that date wants to be there and that that date is going to be OK going along with certain things that you just have to do because you're at a wedding. Don't bring your Sid and Nancy boyfriend unless you're going to a rockstar wedding. Don't bring someone who tends to get really drunk and start fights or is kind of a bit of a loose cannon. And beyond that I think someone who really wants to be there. You don't want to invite someone who just doesn't care. I feel like that's karmically a bad vibe in a way.