True story: I recently got invited to my ex-boyfriend’s wedding. When I say ex-boyfriend, though, I mean we “dated” in middle school (read: held hands while watching movies with his mom). We stayed in touch through the years despite our very dramatic breakup just before high school, and for a time we even considered ourselves best friends. Aside from that one drunken night in college (it happens, right?), our friendship remained totally platonic. So when I found out he was getting married, I was genuinely stoked. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fly down to Florida for the wedding due to a work conflict, but I felt pretty honored that he wanted to include me in his big day.
When your romance with someone is pretty much ancient history (about two decades old, in this case), etiquette expert Elaine Swann says there’s no need to feel awkward about accepting a wedding invitation. The tricky part comes when you dated within the past few years — because there’s a possibility the bride doesn’t know who you are or the nature of your relationship with her soon-to-be life partner. In this case, Swann says it’s best to check in with the bride and make sure she’s down. “Sometimes men don’t think everything through,” Swann says. “First and foremost, find out if it’s going to be alright that you’re there.”
If all parties involved are cool with your attendance, feel free to reply “yes.” But just know there are some special dos and don’ts you’ll need to follow when you’re there...
-DON'T go into detail about your romantic history. Better yet, don't even mention that you dated. If someone asks who you're there for, just say something simple like, “I’m a friend of the bride and groom.” No one needs to know that you’ve made out with the person who just said “I do.”
-DO walk over to congratulate the newlyweds at the reception — but DON'T linger too long at their table. You know what they say about overstaying your welcome...
-DON'T dance with your ex. That's not to say you can't bust a move when the Electric Slide comes on — just don't try to push your way next to them, especially during the slow songs.
-DON'T take selfies with your ex and post them on Instagram. You guys broke up, remember?
-DON'T be too affectionate. “Keep a respectful distance,” Swann cautions. “If it’s a hug, you hug and you leave. It’s a group photo, don’t try to squeeze in too close to the groom.”
-DO send a gift. If you're struggling to pick something out, don't worry — we've got you covered.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that you’re there for one reason: to support the couple on their big day. But if the thought of attending feels super awk or uncomfortable (or you just don't trust yourself to follow the rules above — hey, no judgment), it's probably best to sit this one out. Plus, you can always just creep on their Instagram hashtag from home, right?