For the bride and groom, the wedding day is a chance to rub their happiness and Tinder-free future in the faces of all their single friends and loved ones. In exchange, those single friends and loved ones get a chance to seek a little post-reception comfort with fellow unaccompanied wedding guests.
For a wedding guest without a plus one (you do the math), a wedding reception is not unlike a frat party. There’s music, dancing, alcohol, and at least a few single girls looking to couple up for the night. One key difference? It’s not actually a frat party. It’s a formal, grown-up event that will probably be attended by parents, grandparents, and other family members,, so you need to be on your best behavior. While that’s no reason you have to go home alone, you definitely don’t want to be the drunk guy hitting on the bride’s little sister, or the hungover guy accidentally waking up next to his second cousin.
We’re not going to tell you exactly how to score (because we have no idea: if any of your tech friends happen to discover the algorithm, let us know), but we can tell you what not to do. So while the bride and groom are busy swapping “I do’s,” keep these “don’ts” in mind.
Don’t Sleep With The Bride
But you already knew that one (right?) Some less obvious options to avoid? The bride’s mom, sister, sister-in-law, brother, mother-in-law. But locating a partner is the clear first step in any hookup, and it’s important to use your best judgment when scanning the room for somebody to lock eyes (or genitals) with. According to Emily Holmes Hahn, founder of LastFirst matchmaking club, the golden rule of wedding hookups is to keep things drama-free: “You’re in a small circle of friends at a wedding, so make sure to keep everything really light if you’re connecting with somebody—you don’t want to make things awkward at the wedding brunch the next day.”
Step one to avoiding any morning-after awkwardness? Steer clear of anyone likely to spark controversy. This includes exes (yours or the groom’s) and anyone else whose involvement in your past ever reached “it’s complicated” status. And remember, word will almost certainly get around, so use your head (the one with the brain inside) and don’t try to get away with anything you don’t want getting back to the bride and groom.
Don’t Get Wasted
An open bar is a tempting oasis for any wedding guest, especially a single one. Between the social lubricant and the opportunity to “buy” your intended drinks at no cost to yourself, it almost seems like the bar is there specifically for the purpose of helping you score. But don’t be fooled—alcohol is not a good wingman tonight, so use it sparingly. Treat it like that friend you only hit up when you need something, and bail on as soon as you get it.
In other words, have a drink or two to loosen up if you need it, but cut yourself off after that. Getting too drunk is the number one way to become THAT guy. And don’t get the girl you’re after too drunk either: 1) it’s creepy; and 2) it will surely result in her being swiftly whisked away in a flurry of concerned bridesmaids. Game over.
Don’t Neglect Your Responsibilities
The only job easier than being a groomsman is being a guest, so don’t be a shitty one. Whether or not you have a role in the wedding party, you still have a responsibility to help celebrate the bride and groom. Be respectful, be discreet, and don’t draw too much attention to yourself. “I would advise maybe asking her to dance rather than trying to monopolize the conversation,” Hahn suggests. “That would be a good way to mingle with somebody without distracting, while also showing support for the bride and groom who want as many guests to be dancing as possible.”
And while you’re busy not drawing attention to yourself, make sure your absence doesn’t give you away either. Chances are, you won’t be missed—remember, none of this is even about you. But getting caught making an obvious sexit mid-reception is a bad look for both of you, so if you do have a lead on a potential hookup, be discreet.
Don’t Get Swept Up in the Moment
Love is in the air at a wedding, so be careful not to end up making any promises you don’t intend to keep. Standard practice in any hookup scenario, but weddings can be extra emotional for the single people in attendance, so make sure you’re both on the same page about your expectations for the night.
That said, if your expectations are more romantic than carnal, you may just be able to use that fairytale ambiance to your advantage. “You already have the connection between the couple there,” says Hahn. “You’ve already met in a beautiful setting where every detail was accounted for, so I think romance is definitely a possibility after a wedding hookup,”. However, she also advises pumping the brakes if you’re hoping the next wedding you two attend will be your own: “If you do want something more meaningful, consider not going back to the person’s hotel room with them.”
Of course, if you’re not looking to lose your bachelor card anytime soon, go ahead and bed the hot bridesmaid. While the bride and groom are busy consummating, you’re still free to just get busy.