Wednesday, June 13, 2012

THE WEDDING STRATEGIST: Nutrition and the Swinging Groomsman

When invited to a wedding as either a member of the bridal party or simply a guest, there are plenty of details to go around. If you’re single, there’s the question of a date. If you’re a member of the bridal party, there’s the fittings and gatherings and gifts, perhaps a speech, or a stress-inducing Dance Moment. Even a guest has to worry about what to wear, what to buy as a gift, the sleeping arrangements, whether ‘The Robot’ has come back into style yet. One thing no one considers, however, is dinner.

If you think that since your attendance at the reception includes a meal dinner is solved, think again. There are numerous other things to worry over. One, any reception worth going to starts with cocktails, and if you’ve been sweltering away in an ill-fitting suit or tuxedo for the last few hours you’re more than likely drinking on an empty stomach. Two, reception dinners may vary in quality and appeal, but even the best reception meal you’ve ever seen is going to arrive at your table lukewarm and inconsistently seasoned, and God help you if you have a custom order. Finally, dinner arrives in the middle of the reception for some reason, completely destroying the flow of the evening. If you went to a club or a great party, would you pause after two hours, return glumly to your table, and consume half a pound of prime rib, only to return to the dance floor bloated and sweating freely? Of course you wouldn’t.

On the other hand, you can’t spend your evening drinking, dancing, and photobombing the other tables without eating something. The answer is right in front of you: The Cocktail Hour.

Cocktail Hours vary, of course. I’ve been to cocktail hours with more food than a Jersey Diner, and I’ve been to cocktail hours where you have to hunt the waiters like a Terminator in order to get a handful of cheese puffs. In either scenario, the Cocktail Hour is where you can eat some delicious grub before you’re too drunk and/or exhausted from doing The Robot to think straight. Grab a drink and get in line for that carving station, start stalking the waiters, and sample those Swedish Meatballs. This way, by the time you have a tiny numbered card in your hand and you’re searching for your table, you’re already sated. It’s ideal because you then spend some time sitting, making your introductions, and digesting. By the time everyone is invited to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, you’re ready to spend the next few hours celebrating instead of struggling to identify the vegetables on your plate.

Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that most people don’t follow this advice, so be wary of being the only person on the dance floor while every other guest is eating dinner. If you suddenly look up and everyone is staring in horror as you do The Robot, solo, it might be time to go take a breather.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

THE WEDDING STRATEGIST: The Politics of Dancing

Many men, when invited to or planning a wedding, come up against the fact that they will be expected or at the very least strongly urged to dance. I once worked with a curmudgeonly old man who gruffly advised me that real men never danced. He was proud to say he had danced only once in his life, at his own wedding. Most of us, however, lack this kind of internal fortitude. We will, someday, have to dance in order to please our partners.

Some men, of course, enjoy dancing, and are even good at it. More power to them. They remain, as far as I can tell, a minority in the world, perhaps the next step in evolution. For the rest of us, we must arm ourselves with a clearheaded strategy for events such as weddings. Here then, are some guidelines for groomsmen and wedding guests as the event approaches.

First off, resign yourself to the fact that you will, indeed, have to dance. Trust me, you will find your manhood and/or maturity challenged if you refuse, so be prepared. This means, wear comfortable shoes. This means, drink heavily as soon as it is socially acceptable to do so. This means, above all, choose your moment.

The worst thing you can do is be cajoled onto the dance floor when everyone, including you, is still sober. Don’t be the sad soul who is forced to shuffle awkwardly and bite his lower lip, sweating freely, aware of all the judgmental male eyes on your back. Wait, friend, until everyone is sufficiently lubricated to regard just about anything as a good idea. You will know the moment: The band or DJ plays the Chicken Dance and/or The Electric Slide, and more than half the guests rush to the floor. This is your moment: From this point on no one will remark on anything you do. Or, possibly, remember it.

Finally, be aware of the Three Types of Dancing Men you will encounter at weddings, and avoid them at all costs:

1. The Lesson Takers: There’s one couple at every wedding who have spent years of their lives taking Dance Lessons – Ballroom, Swing or, god help you, Disco. Identify these folks quickly and stay off the dance floor when they’re out there, burning the place down with their sexiness. You will never look good dancing next to them.

2. The Box Steppers: Usually an older couple, these folks cannot actually dance in a technical sense, but they can walk each other around in a stiff-armed box forever, circling the floor in grim, robotic motion. Although they will make you look good in comparison, the chances of whacking them in the head with your flailing limbs is high.

3. Children: At some point at every wedding reception the kids figure out that they can do anything on the dance floor and it is regarded with amusement and tolerance. It quickly becomes Lord of the Flies out there. Stay seated and don’t make eye contact.

There you go. Follow these simple guidelines and dancing need never be a worry to you again. And for heaven’s sake resist the temptation to do The Robot.

- Groomsday