How DO you survive a wedding where you know nobody?


My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Weddings are funny things.   Joyous occasions, obviously,  but they can be stressful as a guest.  Hell they are stressful for those whose big day it is, but I think we sometimes forget that they can be for those coming along for the party and cake too.     I can think of no other occasion where you might not know many of the other guests attending.   Well I guess other than a funeral but then you don’t tend to invite people to those that you haven’t seen for a while.  Or Brenda from accounts because she once made you a coffee and you feel obliged.

Which is what happens at weddings.

The world and his wife often expect an invite, and often get one.   Parents feel it appropriate to insist that eight great-cousins twice removed that you haven’t seen since you were six, come along.    With their other halves and 97 children.    We kept our invite list pared down to the minimum due to the number we could seat in the ceremony room, and even that was 75.    And it included a real mix of people who despite being some of our closest friends had never met before.  Bruce’s mates from uni that he had known for 20+ years, sitting next to the people I worked with.   Godchildren sitting next to my best friend’s children.     We worked hard to make sure that those who didn’t really know anybody else were on a table with somebody they had something in common with so there might be a starting point for at least a bit of conversation.

But that bit terrifies me, the arriving and not knowing anyone.

The only common denominator at these things:  the two people sitting on the long table away from everybody else.

We are off to a wedding next week where I don’t even have that as a common denominator.   I know nobody,other than Bruce who works with the groom and a few of the other invited guests.   The only way I will know the bride will be, presumably, the fact she is the pretty lady in the big frock.    Though this wedding is in Greece so I have no idea if tradition dictates that brides actually wear jeans.  If that is the case I am screwed.

Yes, did I mention it is in Greece.  A big fat Greek wedding.    So not only do I know only one other person, I don’t know anything about the families, or traditions of a Greek wedding.    Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing, I am looking forward to it hugely, but it does mean I have been doing a bit more homework than I might have done for any other wedding.

And when I say homework what I really mean is that I have asked some mates for their survival tips for a wedding where you don’t know anyone:

I love this first piece of advice, the only problem is that the wedding is on the beach so I suspect their might not be a dance floor.  It won’t stop Bruce busting out the moves though, I am sure.

I had to go to a wedding where my husband’s ex partner was chief bridesmaid! My suggestion is to drink champagne and rock the dance floor, you haven’t got to make small talk if you are queen of the dance floor!! 🙂 

Little Lily Pad

Kelly is always spot on with her advice:

My tip would be to have a witty one-liner about how you know the bride or groom: “we met at a Dr Who convention [pause] only joking: my husband was at school with him/her, what about you?” If no-one knows you, and you aren’t offending anybody, then you have a great opportunity to pretend to be who you want for the day: Flight Attendant, Hand Model, International Blogger of Great Repute. You’ll end up having so much fun with your Character that the event will go by in a flash.

Domestic Goddesque

Penny worried she had got a bit deep and meaningful with her tip but as always she is spot on and this is great advice for any situation, not just a Greek wedding!

Get everyone at the table to turn their name place markers into the centre of the table to help with remembering names. People love to be asked questions about themselves, so make like a journalist and ask lots of questions, research has proved people recall people who ask questions as more interesting, regardless of whether they even talk about themselves. Remember the six degrees of separation theory, you never know who you are going to meet and how they might connect with your life already. Or how they could influence your life going forward.


Trust Helen to come up with advice that is far from deep, but just cuts straight to the point.  I love it

I was going to say drink loads and be really funny

Or this one which, let’s face it, will be exactly what I end up doing

Take your iPad and sit in a corner

Before coming up with this blinder, which is the one I really want to be brave enough to do:

How about, if you’re any good with a camera, take lots of pictures, tell people you’re compiling a book of candid shots for the couple, and ask for an interesting fact about how they know them – for inclusion in the book? Hard work but I bet it would start some conversation


Michelle agreed with Penny (and I do agree with her about hiding in the loos).  People think I am outgoing and an extrovert but actually I am incredibly shy and the loo is looking more and more inviting right now

I’m with Penny on asking people about themselves. As an introvert frequently forced into social situations this is my number one survival tip. But I must admit I’d make my excuses and hide in the loo if someone at my table wanted to play a guess the name game

The American Resident

And finally I love Cass’s advice

I’d say don’t wait for people to make an effort to come and talk to you – start conversations with people no matter how hard it might seem. I look for the smiliest face and ask them a question.

Frugal Family

My top tip for myself has been to get a new outfit that I feel comfortable in.   There is nothing worse than being nervous about the event and not feeling comfortable either.

After all, the bride doesn’t really have to be the only one in a posh frock, does she?

If you have a tip for me for next week, I would love to hear it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • What a lot of good ideas!

    I sense the makings of a book here – either a guide for those in doubt to learn from or,
    – a humorous after-event summary.

    Or maybe two books!
    [Usual commission]