Picture this: You’re at your friend’s wedding and you’re surrounded by people you vaguely know. You can’t just sit in silence all night and you have to strike up a conversation with the person next to you. What do you say?
It can be overwhelming to socialize in large crowds and at huge parties. But, the pressure to be pleasant and have good conversations is always higher when you’re at a wedding. No matter if you’re part of the wedding party, the couple, family, or friends, it can be hard to spend your whole day making small talk with people you haven’t seen in a while or people you don’t even know.
However, at the end of the day, you want to make sure you’re celebrating with the couple and having a good time yourself, so conversations are going to have to happen. And it’s an exciting thing! Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your new best friend or partner at this wedding. But, that isn’t going to happen unless you put yourself out there and start a conversation.
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that most people loathe small talk and try to avoid it as much as possible. However, when you’re at a wedding and need to talk to acquaintances and strangers, small talk is necessary.
Before the wedding, try to brainstorm what you might want to talk about (see some of our ideas later in this post). Grace Baena, Director of Brand for Kaiyo, recommends “avoiding subjects like politics and religion to minimize awkwardness in conversations at weddings.” If you have a set of questions or topics ready about things you actually want to talk about, the less painful the experience will be and you can avoid talking about the weather for twenty minutes.
That being said, sometimes the best way to start a conversation with a stranger is by asking how they know the couple. You already know that you two have that one thing in common, so why not connect over that? Who knows, it could lead to some embarrassing and entertaining stories.
Make sure you chat with the people around you at the happy hour and reception. It’s always great to build and re-strengthen connections during these parts of the wedding so when the dancing starts, you already have dance partners.
If you truly have no idea what to talk about and like to feel prepared in social situations, take a look through this list and choose 2-3 questions to take with you at the wedding. The key to asking a good question for conversations is asking open-ended questions. You don’t want to ask any questions that have a “yes/no” answer, because the conversation will end right there.
Choose topics that you genuinely find interesting and would like to talk about. Have these questions in the back of your pocket for when there are any awkward silences in the conversation:
Even if you have topics and questions pre-prepared for small talk, it can still be an overwhelming experience to be surrounded by a large number of people. And when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people, it’s bound to make you a little anxious. That’s okay. There are ways to combat that anxiety.
Make sure you give yourself breaks throughout the day and allocate time for yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, search for a dark corner, take a walk outside, or even hang out in a bathroom stall for a little bit. You want to have a good time at a wedding so you can celebrate the couple, but in order to do that, you have to make sure you take care of yourself first.
If you’re still feeling anxious and drink alcohol, a wedding is the perfect place to be. Most weddings have an open bar of some kind, so grab yourself a glass to take the edge off. Just make sure you drink in moderation so your anxiety and intoxication don’t lead you to do something you might regret later. If you’re struggling to find people to talk to, chances are, there are a ton of interesting people at the bar just waiting to chat with someone.
One of the hardest positions you can be in at a wedding is not knowing anyone else around you. Starting conversations with total strangers can make small talk throughout the night all the more daunting. If you don’t know who to talk to, try talking to the people sitting around you, sit at the bar, scope out grandmothers and grandfathers (they’ll be happy to talk to anyone), or strike up a conversation with a kid.
Before you go to the wedding, reach out to your friend who’s getting married. See if there’s anyone else also going alone or anyone else coming they think you should connect with. This’ll open up an opportunity at the wedding for your friend to introduce you to someone they think you’ll vibe with.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about being alone at the wedding, just know that you’re not alone. Chances are, you’re not the only person alone at the wedding. Keep a look out for others who look like they’re alone and strike up a conversation with them. The best way to start a conversation with someone else alone at the wedding is by complimenting them (just don’t be creepy about it). If they’re alone, they might be feeling like an outsider, so letting them know that they’re a part of the celebration and that they’re appreciated will help you build an instant bond with someone.
Sometimes, you might not be in the mood to talk at all. It happens and that’s okay. You can still have a good time and still properly celebrate the couple without necessarily having to fill your day with painful small talk.
If you’re tired of talking, start dancing. Everyone loves the people at weddings who are on the dance floor all night. Dance with the couple and you’ll soon be introduced to their friends who will dance the rest of the night with you. The best part about dancing is that no talking is necessary and yet everyone is still having a great time.
If the dancing hasn’t started yet, it’s always okay to busy yourself with food and drinks. Again, most food and drinks at weddings are free. When we feel awkward in social situations, we usually don’t know how to keep ourselves busy and eating is a great way to do that. If people see that you’re busy scarfing down appetizers and stuffing your face, they’ll probably assume you’re busy and won’t approach you to talk.
Starting conversations with anyone, much less strangers, can be a daunting task. Before you go to a wedding, make sure you have a game plan in place of how you want to approach conversations. A few key things to remember are:
At the end of the day, a wedding is a party and a celebration. Even though it can be overwhelming to interact with so many people in one day, being prepared and comfortable will allow you to have a great time. And having a great time is the most important part of any wedding.