Wedding Stereotypes and How to Avoid Becoming One
Updated: Oct 10
In every wedding we see at least one of these stereotypes rear their head (for better or worse), so here is a how-to guide on how to spot them (if you are a wedding guest), manage them (if you are the couple getting married) or how to not become them (you know who you are). We are going to start with the guests' stereotypes, then hit the family, and finally the happy couple.
To conserve anonymity, I'm going to use pictures freely available online... if however, you feel that you were one of these stereotypes and you want to be pictured in the Wedding Hall of shame dictionary, feel free to let me know, and I will swap your mugshot in.
The No Show
How to spot them: You don't. That's kind of the point. You invite them. They say yes. You pay for their meal, and yet they fail to show up to eat it. Varieties Include: The No Show Family (Little Timmy has a cold so the whole family fails to show leaving one table conspicuously empty), They Show Then Go (they show up for the ceremony but head out before trying a single cocktail), The I Never Though They Would Come Anyway (distant father, party phobic relative, the friend who JUST has a week old baby but still insisted that they would make it).
How To Deal With Them: Adopt a 'things happen' attitude - even if you want to send them a bill for their steak don't - instead understand that while it is your most important day things happen outside people's control. They really do get sick, and you don't want them infecting guests; grandparents do fall and go to the hospital, and babies have a way of changing even the most well-intended plans. And what to do with that food? Ask the caterers to bring you extra at dinner, or get it boxed for a midnight snack.
How To Not Become One: Be realistic about your ability to attend, couples do understand that not everyone is going to be able to come. And if your plans change let the couple know ASAP, with a phone call, not a text.
The Drunken Plus One
How To Spot Them: Normally dating one of the couple's best friends for 3 - 12 months (under 3 they fall into an inappropriate touching category). They are usually at the bar for most of the night, chatting with the bartender, or they are in a corner swigging from a fun flask. They are easiest to spot when within a few beats of the couple's favorite song, the bar clears out to the dancefloor, and they are left - confused if they are welcome to join or not. Or because they end up crying and causing a scene as their significant other hugs an old flame just a little too long. By the end of the night, they are passed out on an available chair or sofa, until the SO comes to collect them.
How To Deal With Them: Start early. Don't invite anyone to your wedding (plus ones included) that you haven't met before and many people use a no ring, no bring policy - which roughly translates as if the guest is not living with, engaged to, or married to the plus one they aren't invited. If you do find a couple of plus ones, come then make an effort to embrace them, etc - if they are dating a bridesmaid or groomsman don't leave them out in the cold, they should sit with their date, and be invited to rehearsal dinners.
How Not To Become One: Pretty straightforward: if you do go, don't get drunk and embarrassing.
The Judgy Auntie
How To Spot Them: They may not actually be an Aunt, they could be your mother's best friend, a Godparent or even an older (usually married) sister. You know who they are before the wedding rolls around. They correct grammar on Facebook posts, when you look at magazines with them they always have an opinion on Who Wore It Best, and when you do get engaged they give you a detailed blow-by-blow walkthrough of the last wedding they attended (and it won't usually be that positive). At the wedding they are usually scarily silent, and when they see a new element of your wedding decor, they pause in front of it for a few seconds too long. Not to be confused with the 'Bitchy Bridesmaid', as they aren't always judging negatively and would never dream of saying anything to you on the day - but their silent walking around is unnerving. As a side note they usually don't drink, so as not to do anything that they too could be judged negatively for.
How To Deal With Them: Understand that you are just feeding your demons by thinking about it too much. They are usually not messing with your head deliberately, and would be upset (and probably judge you) if you told them what was going on. This is a kill them with kindness kind of deal. Lots of hugs and love stop any negative thoughts on both sides and when the opportunity arises ask their advice - BUT - only on decisions that you don't really care about, as if you don't take their advice then your really going to hear about it.
How To Not Become One: Remember this isn't strictly for the Aunt - friends, colleagues, and family can all fall into this trap. Remember the key to a great wedding in our experience is that it reflects the couple involved - not the idea of what a wedding should be, or what you think your own wedding (or someone else wedding) was missing.
The Barely Dressed Babe (or Dude)
How To Spot Them: These are a bartenders favorite. This girl walks up the stairs and her dress rides up so high you can see the color of her undergarments (or her spanx), embarrassed she pulls down the hem, only to spill out from the top. Grabs a drink, walks down the stairs and it all begins again. The Dude version (unlike the women) usually begins fully clothed; as the night progresses, they do the slowest strip tease ever. First goes the tie, then the jacket, then a button, then another... until finally they are unbuttoned down to their belly and fist bumping on the dancefloor. Bonus points if they have the tie, re-tied around their head.
How To Deal With Them: Make the dress code clear on the invitation or website - but this is one that there isn't much you can do.
How To Not Become One: Girls, when you try on a dress dance a little. Put your arms above your hair, wiggle on down to the floor and bend over - now would you want your kids or future kids showing that much skin? No, try going a size up. Guys, losing the tie is one thing, but more than two buttons undone is not. Pretty straightforward.
The 'Cool' Uncle
How To Spot Them: They are on the dancefloor pulling every dad move under the sun. They call for shots at the bar, and make jokes about the 'ball and chain'. They probably came to the bachelor party without much of an invite. Usually they have a leather jacket on as opposed to a suit. There is a female version, who often falls into the barely dressed category.
How To Deal With Them: Don't. Encourage them to let their cool flag fly, because why not? This guest does nothing but keep people laughing with them (hopefully not at them). They retell some great stories, and probably when they came on the bachelor party were the only ones still standing at the end of the night.
How Not To Become One: You have two options here... just go with it, or if you want to try to fit in with the 'grown up's' do it, you know how, assuming you have a job - just act like that.
The Teenage Cousin
How To Spot Them: They stand out like a sore thumb. The suit is too big, the braces on their teeth make their smile uncomfortable, and they are usually creeping around tables trying to sneak left over drinks. Especially dangerous when combined with the 'cool uncle', who thinks giving him drinks is a great way to help him have fun.
How To Deal With Them: These guys do need dealing with, or else when they curl up in a drunken ball in the middle of the dance floor all the attention switches to them - and someone (very rarely the teen themselves) gets into a LOT of trouble. As always making someone feel included helps with all unwanted excess drinking, but if you can, find a similar aged guest, ask a friend to buddy with them, or if all else fails give them a defacto babysitter. Or if they are the only under 21 guest on your guest list, just consider not inviting them.
How To Not Become One: Ummmm age? Short of that you don't have a lot of options. Try not to drink. And there is no way you are reading this blog anyway.
How To Spot Them: Before they came bitchy bridesmaid they may have been the least bitchy girl ever (or they are bitchy in every situation in which case good luck with that). But once you got engaged they slowly started making demands, side comments, and showing up just a little late to everything. Contrary to popular belief they are not always single, they can be married, engaged etc.
How To Deal With Them: The awful thing about this one is that it is coming from a place of jealousy pure and simple. It has very little to do with you and as a friend you understand that, and want to help - but it doesn't stop it making your life that much more difficult. You will go back and forth about 20 times about if having them in your wedding party is worth it, and long term, as a rule it is. However if the relationship reaches a point where you feel like she wouldn't be there to support the relationship, if it was ever in jeopardy, then it's time for a rethink.
How To Not Become One: Try and unpack your emotions in a more rational sense and then re-frame them. If you are single, then focus on all the great things that you have in front of you or if you are in a long term relationship, focus on the fact that a stable relationship is great ring or no ring etc. Keep reminding yourself as a bridesmaid you job is to be there for the bride, and for (in reality) a short period of time, try and be as supportive as you can be. She is dealing with a lot too.
The 'That Guy' Groomsman
How To Spot Them: He is the guy that turns up with an expensive bottle of bourbon, and a 12 pack of Naddy Lite for beer pong later. While all the other groomsman shave, he is convinced he will have a handle bar mustache, and if that didn't make the photographers job fun enough, he will disappear to the bar during group pictures, and innocently grope the 2nd shooter's butt when she (or he) bends over. In the real world he has a beer for the road, yet never had a DUI and in the wedding world no bridesmaid is safe. You know... he's That Guy.
How To Deal With Them: Most of the couples pick their attendants from their nearest and dearest, warts and all. He will bring the fun, the party and the gossip the next morning - and he wont care how embarrassing the story, if it gets a laugh he is fine with it getting shared. I will caution that if your other half says no to him, or sets out a host of rules for him to follow and he makes a fool of himself anyway you will be apologizing for many years to come.
How Not To Be One: If they ask you to be restrained, do - but other than that as long as you are polite, don't grope people unless they ask, and try to remember to keep your clothes on you will be fine. Oh, and behave for the photos - you may grow up but in those pictures you will look like an idiot forever.
The Single Sister
How To Spot Them: You don't need to spot them. You know them. And chances are they have fallen into one of these categories - 'Bitchy Bridesmaid', 'Judgy Aunt', or 'Barely Dress Guest'. Either way they usually end up hammered and crying, and they will be annoyed that no one noticed because everyone was looking at you.
How To Deal With Them: Find the broader catagory and take that advice. Then remember your parents have been settling your debates for decades and let them do it again. This is the one time they MAY come down on your side.
How To Not Become One: Well, you can't help been single, and that's not really the point. What you can do is try and be your sisters number one cheerleader, wine opener and taco bringer. If you do HAVE to pick one, just skip straight to the hammered and crying, but aim for happy crying and tearing up the dancefloor hammered. Everyone loves that girl...
How To Spot Them: Could be on either side - or a step parent. This is the most troubling stereotype as it is both one of the most seen and most destructive to a couples harmony. They range from the slightly annoying ' Judgy Aunt' type to the out right crazy. The biggest problem is that they feel (unlike your other family and guests) they have the right, not only to air their opinions but to do so loudly and publicly. There is nothing funny about them.
How To Deal With Them: Honestly, this is too big a subject to cover in a paragraph. My advice is to surround yourself with people who support you. Try not to put too much at your other halves feet, as they are going to feel badly about it without you having to remind them - but at the same time talk it through so it doesn't build up. Just remember you are creating a family, but that doesn't mean it has to always included every member of the old one.
How To Not Become One: Remember that you love you kid, and they are marrying someone who loves them too. If anything that should be bonding. Also remember - and reality check here - they are building a new life together, and at least for right now that trumps you. If you want to be included you have to be an asset, or at least quiet, or else they will leave you behind.
The Double-Check Father
How To Spot Them: They can come from any side, but this is the dad (or uncle) who thinks all wedding people are there to scam you - and they will figure out how. They probably won't be involved on a regular basis, but every once in a while they announce they are coming to a meeting or need to read a contract. Then without really knowing the in's and out's of what you have planned they come up with a long list of concerns, thoughts, and issues that you should address. It wont matter if you are a CEO, event planner, or Noble Prize winner, you will in this, according to him be totally incapable of doing anything.
How To Deal With Them: Take it, and try to be patient. You might find they have thought of something you forgot, or you might just need to tell them you have thought of everything so they relax.
How To Not Become One: Try to listen, and not jump to conclusions.
**Note to all parents**
This is the one day in your child's adult life when you will feel like you can have a strong opinion on what they wear, how they do their hair, what time they eat, and what music they should dance to. It's okay to let them know your thoughts. But remember this is their Best Day Ever, and they are welcoming you to experience what that would be like, so encourage them to be true to themselves. How boring would it be if everyone wanted to do the same thing?
The Disinterested Groom
How To Spot Them: As a vendor these are the easiest to flag from day one. If they come to a meeting they wonder around a couple of paces behind, and when we start talking about the wedding they play games on their phone. These are the guys that think proposing was the hard bit, and they are done. Unlike many of the previous people who worsen as the wedding approaches The Disinterested Groom usually improves.
How To Deal With Them: A lot of grooms can start out with a slight amiable disinterestedness but this often comes from a lack of knowledge. The best thing to do is explain wedding terms without condescension, and if and when they start to form options you listen to them. Also lots of options are overwhelming, so if you want help choosing something, narrow it down to two or three options (no wrong answers, this is not a trick or a test) and get them to eliminate things, not choose one thing upfront. Its often easier to say what you don't like than what you do.
How To Not Become One: Remember if you don't voice an opinion you can't be upset when you don't like something, or if you do want something. On the whole your other half is just as much of a wedding rookie as you are, but they are usually trying to educated themselves on the process. Do the same, it will help. Lastly the day is about you as a couple, your relationship and what would make the Best Day Ever for you. Make a effort, it's overwhelming for your significant other to achieve that all on their own.
How To Spot One: They care more about their 'perfect vision' than their guests. These are the Brides who totally, and utterly fail to understand that even though this may be the most important day in their lives it probably doesn't even rank in the top 10 for most of their guests (maybe it hits top 5 for their parents).
How To Deal With Them: There is a big difference between a Bridezilla, and a Bride who is having a moment. A Bridal Moment might be about wanting bridesmaids to have their hair up, or not wanting an Aunt to sing a song during speeches - these moments, in our honest opinion, are a brides prerogative. A Bridezilla take is 10 steps further, and seems to have almost lost touch with the fact that there are friends, and family taking time out of their lives to celebrate with them. Your best way to them is through the Groom, but yelling and screaming wont work - it will just inflame the situation - take her away for the weekend somewhere fun.
How To Not Become One: On a day-to-day basis remind yourself that the important thing is that you are marrying your soul mate, and that as long as something doesn't actively negatively impact your day (and usually if it takes only a couple of minutes to achieve) what is the harm in doing it and making someone you love happy.
The Sorority Bridal Party
This group of girls knows how to party together, dance together and most importantly pose together! They save photographers a ton of time as when an camera comes out they automatically find their light, and when asked for a laugh they throw their heads back in amazing giggles.