I have the whole reception thing down to a science. Why let a wedding reception occupy an entire evening when your presence and support can be just as felt in a few minutes? One of the great philosophical questions of our time.
Here’s how it goes:
Method 1: If you are able to make it to a reception 10-15 minutes early, that’s the best scenario. You pop in, gift in hand, grab the bride and groom, big hug, small conversation, tell them sorry you have to run, meet the parents, drop the gift off, sign the visitor book and you’re out of there. No more than 10 minutes.
But what if you can’t make it early, meaning that you’re dealing with the infamous reception line? No problem.
Method 2: When you walk in, gift in hand, walk past the line, sign the book, position yourself in view of the bride/groom, make brief eye contact, wave, drop your gift off, hit up the dessert table, converse with friends for 5 minutes (as many different people as you can within 5 minutes), then walk straight up to the bride/groom (yes, cut the line), big hug and congratulations, tell them sorry you have to run, done. This method takes maybe 10 or 15 minutes.
The other day, my good friend from Thailand got married here in SLC. I was working downtown that day, so I figured I could stall a bit and then head over to the reception about 15 minutes early to complete method 1.
The reception was held on the top floor of a building downtown. I got to the venue and no one was there. It was the right place and everything, but no one had arrived yet. No worries—I just opened up the kindle app on my iPad while sitting in one of the chairs. Then it dawned on me. This is the perfect time to be bored.
I put my iPad away and vowed to not touch my phone. It was great. I got to enjoy the views, admire the pictures, anticipate the desserts (I figured it would be inappropriate to dig in while I was the only one there). But then, being bored would take a severely awkward turn.
Before you get too excited, I didn’t pee my pants or anything—it was kind of a subtle awkwardness.
I was sitting at one of the round tables turned backwards, looking out the window, just minding my own business. Then people started trickling in. There was an old couple, a young flirty couple, some teenage kids, and a couple dudes who walked to the end of the room, plopped down, and pulled out their phones.
The groom still hadn’t arrived.
The room was big and people were spread out. I figured it would be too much effort to start a conversation with someone. And besides, the groom could walk in at any second and I need to be alert.
Still no groom.
I started feeling super awkward. I kept reaching for my phone, but resisted. I kept staring out the window. Then I started feeling that that was getting awkward. What is the socially acceptable time limit for staring out a window? I’m pretty sure I was breaking that limit. I would stand up every couple minutes and walk over to the pictures again. There was only like 5 pictures, so standing in front of the pictures for longer than 2 minutes is probably too long/creepy.
Still no groom, again.
I felt that I had exhausted my socially acceptable limits on just about all conceivable activities. I started thinking I’m going to have to walk over 3 tables and start a conversation with the old couple.
Then finally, two groomsmen walked in that I was friends with. This is good for two reasons: I can stop feeling so awkward, and this means the groom is close to making his appearance. After a couple minutes, the groom appeared, I gave him a hug, met the bride and the parents, and left.
This experience made me realize that not only is being bored difficult, but being bored in semi-social situations is really difficult.
I decided that the next time I’m in such a situation, I am going to focus on finding inspiration, being observant, and not worrying about what people are thinking about me–the awkward dude wandering around trying to look occupied.
I’ll let you know how it goes.