July 31, 2014 / Bag the Bridesmaid
After the show, it's the after-party.
Rule #22: You have a wedding and a reception to seal the deal. Period. No overtime.
— Wedding Crashers (2005)
The movie “Wedding Crashers” came out when I was in my early 20s. In the years since, I’ve gone to countless weddings. In the movie, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have codified their “playbook” and reference several of the rules throughout the movie. Among them was “Rule #22,” which basically means you need to escalate with your girl by the time the wedding cake gets offered.
Weddings are great events to meet and hookup with women, and most of my success at weddings has happened well after the reception. So I’d like to present my own guide to weddings, with some tips and advice you can use the next time you attend someone’s nuptials.
The Goal: Scouting
There’s not a lot of socializing before and during the ceremony. But the ceremony will have all the wedding attendees in a concentrated area, making it ideal to scout any girls you may be interested. Pay attention to whether they’re sitting on the bride or groom side, and who else they’re sitting with. Are they with a date? Does their body language look like that guy is the husband or boyfriend?
If they have any defining characteristics (a uniquely colored dress, a tattoo, etc), keep those in mind. Later on you’ll be asking other people about that girl, and you’ll need to describe her. It’ll be easier if you can ask, “what’s the name of that girl in that fuschia dress?”
The Cocktail Hour
The Goal: Reconnaissance
Usually the ceremony flows into the cocktail hour, which is a great way to get “recon” on the girl that’s your potential target.
At this point, there are two scenarios:
Scenario #1: You have mutual friends with the girl you’re interested in.
In scenario #1, you basically just want to approach those mutual friends and say hi. If they’re well-mannered, they’ll introduce you to the rest of the group, including the girl you’re interested. If they’re socially dense and don’t do this, you can ask: “so who else are you with, and how do you guys know each other?” That will usually trigger them to finally introduce you.
You’ll go around shaking hands with the group. When you’re introduced to the girl you’re interested in, give her a taste compliment. “Hi, I’m Trent, nice to meet you. Really like the color of your dress, by the way.”
Small but important detail: You want to approach when everyone has a drink but when nobody has an appetizer. If you approach when everyone is holding drinks and appetizers in their hand, then you’re going to have some very awkward introduction and handshakes.
Depending on the composition of friends, you will need to decide whether it makes sense to stay and socialize, or to leave and re-engage later. Your goal is to get ‘on her radar,’ so to speak, not necessarily seal the deal right there. If you do socialize, then some good small talk questions for a wedding are:
- How do you know the bride and groom?
- Where are you from?
- What are you drinking?
- What table are you sitting at?
Scenario #2: You don’t have mutual friends with the girl you’re interested in.
In this scenario it’s going to be harder to get on her radar, but it’s not impossible. You basically need to situate yourself in close enough proximity to initiate an introduction. This way if she exclaims, “ohmygod, this shrimp is amazing!” you can say, “I know, I was just about to say you can’t get this kind of seafood where I live.” Or if she’s getting a drink at the bar, just get a drink yourself and introduce yourself. It’s a wedding, so “cold intros” are perfectly acceptable. Don’t hesitate to just say something like, “Hi, I’m Trent, how do you know the bride and groom?”
If you’re not able to introduce yourself during the cocktail hour, it’s not the end of the world. But it will add a degree of difficulty during the reception. I’ll explain more below.
The Goal: Get the Blessing
After the cocktail hour, everyone will be herded into the venue for dinner.
If it’s an option, always pick the filet. For some reason I always feel like chicken and fish served at weddings are dry and bland, but I’ve never had a bad cut of steak!
Otherwise, you’ll be seated and mostly just stuffing your face and toasting champagne as a succession of people give speeches. There’s really not a lot to do here, so just enjoy the food and drinks.
The one exception is this: it’s customary for the bride and groom to visit each dinner table and socialize with them for a few minutes and then take a picture. When this happens, congratulate them, tell the bride she looks great, and shower them with all the usual compliments.
If you’ve met your girl already, then ask the bride and groom, “Hey, I met your friend and she’s really cool. Think you could put in a good word for me?”
If not, just ask them, “Hey, who is that girl in the fuchsia dress? She’s really pretty.” Remember, you aren’t going up to the girl herself and telling her she is really pretty, you are telling her friends so this does not conflict with my ‘taste compliment’ advice from earlier.
You may feel weird asking a favor on their wedding day, and some may say it’s impolite or rude. But pretty much every bride and groom loves to imagine her wedding spawning a dozen relationships and future weddings of their own. So chances are she will be more than happy to do so. It’s very possible she’ll be too busy or occupied to actually do so. But “getting the blessing” can be a huge DHV to the girl you’re interested, so it’s worth trying.
The Goal: Lay Groundwork
Usually after the bride and groom’s first dance, or the father-daughter dance, will kick off the reception. It’s time to get your party on.
This is typically where I deviate from the Wedding Crashers advice. Weddings are for friends to get together and celebrate. So it’s going to be very hard to approach, attract, isolate, and escalate – all during the reception. So you mostly want to just focus on doing the first two.
If you didn’t get a change to engage the girl during the cocktail hour, you need to do so now. This may be pretty straightforward, or somewhat difficult, and completely depends on the type of reception and the wedding. If the wedding has a good DJ and the girl you’re interested likes to dance, you may pretty much have to approach her on the dance floor. It’s possible, but obviously not ideal.
If you see her sitting at a table with only a few friends, or at the bar, then just walk up and introduce yourself. Then throw in, “the bride and groom thought it would be a good idea if we met.”
If you did manage to introduce yourself at the cocktail hour, then just approach her again. Ask her if she wants to get a drink, ask her if she wants to dance, etc. At this point the situation is no different than a girl you’ve met at any other party.
The reception will probably be at least a few hours long, so you probably don’t want to interact with her the whole time. At some point she’ll want to talk with her other friends or go to the bathroom. Let her. If she’s interested, she’ll either return to you or be open to you talking to her later. Your goal is to lay groundwork, not close right then and there.
Anything you can do to demonstrate that you’re a fun and outgoing individual can only help too. Order a round of shots in honor of the bride and groom. Do some silly dance moves with the bride. Dance with someone’s little niece or cousin. Pretend to take the garter toss way too seriously. These were all tropes in Wedding Crashers, but it’s a great way to demonstrate value as someone who is enhancing the wedding experience for everyone. And who knows – you may attract other girls without even realizing it!
The Goal: Seal the Deal
The after-party is key. Usually receptions are done around 10pm. While that’s because all the old people are exhausted and need to shuffle off to bed, you and all the other younger people will probably want to keep the party going.
An hour or two before the reception ends, ask your friends what they want to do after the reception. This will probably involve either going out to a bar in the city where the venue is, or getting alcohol from somewhere and drinking it in your hotel rooms. Lock down a plan, and then spread the word to the girl you’re interested and her friends. Chances are they’ll be receptive. After all the good vibes celebrating at a wedding, who wants to turn in at 10pm?
At the after-party, you should not have much of a problem isolating and escalating. That being said, how far you can escalate will mostly depend on logistics. Even if I’m attending a wedding local to me, I always get a hotel room for this reason. Mostly because I don’t need to worry about drinking and driving home, but also because it guarantees I have a place to bring back the girl and close.
If you did get a hotel room but you’re splitting it with friends, then you may need to work quickly. You’ll need to escalate with the girl and bring her back to the hotel before the after-party ends. Until then, your friends will be fine giving you the room to yourself. Afterwards, you’re essentially “sexiling” them and they probably won’t be cool with that.
And above all, remember rule #76:
No excuses. Play like a champion.