The only single person at a wedding: dos and don’ts

According to the statistics, when there are 120 people at a wedding, being the only single person at a wedding should be highly unlikely.   I was the only single person at a wedding.  

In February this year the Office of National Statistics released data suggesting that 51% of people in the UK are single. Surprised?  I certainly was.  When you delve down into these statistics they are horribly flawed.

‘Single’ includes everyone over the age of 16 who is not married.  

Single‘ even includes those who have been declaring themselves ‘in a relationship’ on Facebook for a decade.

‘Single’ even includes those who have been cohabiting with their partners for twenty years and have three teenage children together.  

Single’ even includes those who are engaged to be married but who are taking the time to plan an extraordinarily spectacular wedding – like the one I went to last weekend. 

To my mind, these people are NOT single, they are very much COUPLED.  Someone at the Office of National Statistics is clearly very conservative with a small ‘c’ and is totally out of touch with modern day society. 

I assume that if you delve further into the statistics:

  • you will probably find that in the 30 – 40 age bracket there are fewer single people – none of my friends, fortunately, have started getting divorced yet!;
  • you will probably find that in white middle class society there are fewer single people – whilst I hate the label, I cannot deny that this was a white, middle class, wedding;
  • you will probably find that, linked to the above, where there are higher levels of academic achievement, there are also fewer single people. 

I am not being ageist, or classist, or racist, or intellectualist or any other ‘ist’ you may want to throw at me upon reading this post, I just think it is true, and I am confident that if the conservative with a small ‘c’ person at the Office of National Statistics asked the right questions of the data, my assumptions would be proven correct.

This is a long winded way of trying to work out why, when, applying ONS logic, there should have been 60 single people at the wedding, whereas I was in fact, the only one.  La seule.  La unica.  The ONLY SINGLE PERSON AT A WEDDING. 

single person at a wedding

This wedding was the marriage of a close work friend. Although we have been through a lot together over the last few years, a work friend can never as close as a school friend or a university friend. Your school and university years are when life-long friendships are formed. There was a definite Cambridge University clique (yep, white middle class – tick, higher levels of academic achievement – tick)  at this wedding and as lovely as they all are (and they really are, not a hint of sarcasm), the comfort blanket of being part of the clique was not there for me. I am not part of the Cambridge University contingent.

This was one of the most spectacular weddings I have ever been to and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

One immediately thinks that the main drawback of being the only single person at a wedding is that there is no chance of future romance.  You are not going to meet the man/woman of your dreams at this wedding and live the fairy tale that the bride and groom are living, or at least that you hope that they are living.  This is true, but so what?  A lifetime can pass without you meeting the man/woman of your dreams. What’s another day? 

I found that the feeling of self-consciousness was the biggest challenge for me as the only single person at a wedding.  Here are a few survival tips.


Dress well. Make sure you wear something that makes you feel really good. You are probably going to feel quite self-conscious at various points during the reception in particular. Don’t let your discomfort be around your clothing.  I wore a dress that I really liked and felt comfortable in.  Unfortunately, it had a flowing skirt which, when caught in the wind, did a Marylin Monroe.  Not ideal given that the reception was on the top of a windy cliff.  Dress well mission not quite accomplished for me I am afraid. 

Drink. Not so much that you make a fool of yourself (see my don’ts below), but drink is a social lubricant and you are going to need to make conversation with people who you don’t know very well. You are going to need some cocktail lubrication, some champagne lubrication, some red wine with dinner lubrication, and maybe even some shots of tequila or jaeger bomb lubrication.  I didn’t indulge in the tequila and the jagermeister because I don’t trip the light fantastic regularly these days, so shots probably would have been too much for me.  Just don’t make a fool of yourself and please please please don’t be sick!  I wasn’t sick.  Drinking mission accomplished. 

Dance. Just because you’re the single person at the wedding doesn’t mean you’re banned from the dance floor. You are probably thinking: “well, duh, of course it doesn’t” but when it’s a couple’s song and everyone on the dance floor is locked to someone else, stepping onto the dance floor can be quite intimidating. Some songs really are love songs, maybe avoid them, but when a song can easily be danced to as a group, go and dance next to a couple who you vaguely know and they will unlock arms and dance with you. Try it.  I guarantee it. Everyone has been single at some point you know!

Have real conversations. There will be times when you find yourself without a partner during the slow ones. But being the only single person at a wedding during a slow dance (sorry, I am a 1980’s child and that’s what we called them) doesn’t mean that you will be the only person not on the dance floor.

Inevitably someone will have bought new and really uncomfortable shoes which they can’t bear to keep on.  They will be sitting watching the dancing.  Go and talk to them.  Inevitably there will be a group of people standing, chatting about the weather.  Yep, okay it might be a bit dull, but you do have the option of going to talk to them rather than standing on your lonesome or going to the toilet (again!) when you don’t actually need to pee.   

single person at a weddding


Torture yourself.  Don’t feel you need to stay talking to the really dull but excitable woman and her excruciatingly middle-of-the-road husband who take pity you because you are single but who have nothing more interesting to talk about than how she was never so stressed in her life because she ‘nearly missed her flight’. This happened.  She barely drew breath whilst recounting this story (hence my lack of punctuation). I nearly slit my wrists. I haven’t drunk a glass of wine so quickly since I was a teenager playing drinking games in a caravan in Newquay. 

When she offered for me to join her and her husband for a drive the next morning  I politely declined.  I have much better things to do, like cut my toenails or something.  In truth, it was a night away from my baby.  Although I did miss him, I did take the opportunity to lie in until 10:30am.  10:30am!  Big grin.  It was heaven, even with a fuzzy head. 

Be scared of taking a time out.  You don’t need to be talking to someone all of the time. Use the opportunity to get a drink, to surveil the scene and figure out who you actually want to speak to. The toilet and the bar always come in handy when you are trying to escape the above mentioned dull couple.  If it is a weekend affair (as my wedding was) go for a walk, go and have a coffee somewhere, or just read a book. You are not obligated to spend time in group activities that don’t involve the bride or groom.

Make a big deal of it. Ok, so being the only single person at a wedding can feel a bit awkward but it is only a few hours and you invariably get a great three course meal and if you are lucky some free booze. What’s not to like?

Don’t find an excuse not to go. This is what another friend of mine, who didn’t go to the wedding, advised. This would have been really lame and I don’t believe that a true friend would miss their friend’s marriage because they felt awkward being the only single person at a wedding.  No real friend would do that. 

I was delighted to be invited to this wedding.  She is a great friend and I am absolutely thrilled that she has found the person who she wants to spend the rest of her life with. She’s done better than me!  And I couldn’t be more happy for her.   I know that she will also be absolutely thrilled to come to my wedding if I find someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.

The only single person at a wedding or not, I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for the world. 

And then the fun began...
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  1. August 18, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    When I read this Pen, I think it’s not so much the romantic side of it that might make me feel uncomfortable as not being there with someone – a sidekick – a good friend or sister even – it’s the pressure to be the one who approaches others so as not to feel awkwardly alone. Not so easy when everyone else has a significant other who may be their comfort blanket in the same situation. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself and got an amazing lie in too – jealous just a little bit 🙂 Thanks for linking up Xx #thetruthabout
    thenthefunbegan recently posted…My dream kitchenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 18, 2015 / 9:13 pm

      Hi, yes, it was exactly that. It was not having that comfort blanket of coming out of the toilet (or wherever you’d been) and knowing that a sidekick would be looking out for you and holding your drink. The romantic bit didn’t bother me at all. I am not in the mood for romance quite yet! Thanks for hosting #thetruthabout

    • thesingleswan
      August 18, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Thanks Min x

    • thesingleswan
      August 18, 2015 / 9:37 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I definitely did the right thing by going, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and I would have been a bad friend if I didn’t go. Thanks for the link to your post about stay at home dads and ONS stats. I have left a comment.

  2. August 18, 2015 / 9:35 pm

    Those statistics is shocking, my sister is everything but married with two children, two cats, a house and an engagement ring yet she is classed as single, that ain’t right!

    Good on you for going alone to a Wedding full of couples, I can imagine that it was very hard despite wanting to be there for your friend.

    Leanne Cornelius recently posted…Chicago Town Pizzas – New ReleasesMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 19, 2015 / 7:15 pm


      Thanks for your comment. Yep, the stats are completely bonkers, but never mind, most stats are.

      It was a good wedding and a lot of fun, despite the couples everywhere. x

  3. August 18, 2015 / 9:39 pm

    Wow you are brave for going alone to a wedding of a work colleague where you won’t know any of them!
    Well done for keeping positive, marriage is so overrated in my opinion I expect most women were jealous you were free to do as you please!

  4. August 18, 2015 / 11:48 pm

    Wow! Good for you for going. I have been invited to attend an old high school friend’s wedding next year and I’m already dreading it. I, personally, don’t like weddings. Its a long story but they just aren’t my favorite social gathering and now that I’m single, I really don’t like them. I have a year to figure out if I should go but it is the right thing to do to show support. Thanks for posting!
    Michelle recently posted…Doctor Who? My Son’s Favorite DoctorMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 19, 2015 / 7:13 pm

      Hi, I know you’ve said it is a long story, but it sounds an intriguing one…

      I know you don’t feel like going, and i totally understand that, but hey, look on the bright side it might be bad but it can’t possibly be as bad as you think it will be.

      • August 19, 2015 / 8:34 pm

        That is true. I have a year to think about it and hopefully I will be able to get to go to my high school reunion in October and will meet the bride to be and go from there.
        Michelle recently posted…My Old GraphicsMy Profile

        • thesingleswan
          August 23, 2015 / 8:41 am

          Hi, That’s good that you will get an opportunity to meet the bride to be beforehand. Will you be able to go to the hen do? If so, this is always another good way to get to meet people before the wedding. Hopefully there will be lots of your old high school friends at the wedding and you can treat the wedding itself as a bit of a reunion. I am sure it will turn out to be fun. x

  5. August 19, 2015 / 8:40 am

    I love this post, such great positive advice. I have been invited to the wedding of my ex-husband’s niece in April where I will not only be the single saddo but also delaing with my ex and his new partner and their children. Nightmare. I was planning on politely declining but maybe I should take you advice and go for it…
    The Dorset Divorcee recently posted…When Something Good Comes Out Of Something BadMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 19, 2015 / 7:10 pm


      Yes, a wedding with your ex, his new partner and their children present is a nightmare. I totally agree. My ex wasn’t at the wedding I went to which made things a lot easier. I probably wouldn’t have gone if he was but then things are a bit fresh for us. My recommendation for you would be to buy a drop dead gorgeous dress, have your hair done, walk tall and only drink champagne! It is really important for you to feel good about yourself and confident. You can do it!

  6. August 19, 2015 / 6:49 pm

    This is a great post! I think we can all find ourselves in sitations where we worry we might feel out of place and much of this advice still applies, not always the drinking and dancing – that could be awkward. Thanks for linking up #fromtheheart
    Charlene recently posted…Advice From The Heart – 18/08/2015My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 19, 2015 / 7:21 pm

      Hi Charlene,

      Thanks for your comment. You are right, the advice does apply to almost all situations, except maybe the drinking and the dancing. It is all about creating conditions that will make you feel less awkward and less ill at ease.

  7. August 19, 2015 / 7:37 pm

    Well done for going! I may have chickened out.. Great dos and donts – they make complete sense. Love the idea of you having a Marilyn Monroe moment on the cliff lol #fromtheheart
    Emma’s Mamma recently posted…A visit to IKEAMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 23, 2015 / 8:43 am

      Thanks. I wasn’t, as you can probably appreciate, so keen on the Marilyn Monroe moment. You need amazing legs and ideally a pair of hot pants on if you are going to do things like that. xx

  8. August 21, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    I was very much single when I went to my best friend’s wedding – thankfully I was also the bridesmaid so I never really felt alone. There were a few awkward moments though! It can’t be easy to be the only single person but you’ve popped some great advice up there! Also, I’m single – although I’ve been in a relationship for 5 years and have a child! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday
    Lisa (mummascribbles) recently posted…Feeling like work just don’t get itMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 23, 2015 / 8:32 am

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your comment and for reading. Oh my. The Office of National Statistics are crazy. We both know that you are not single!

  9. August 27, 2015 / 5:31 pm

    What a great post! I had never really thought about this before but I don’t imagine it does happen very often. Sounds to be as though you definitely made the most of the rather difficult situation. And what a helpful list for others.
    Suzanne recently posted…The one with the ‘back to school’ shopping tripMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 27, 2015 / 8:41 pm

      Thanks Suzanne, I am glad you liked it. x

  10. October 9, 2016 / 7:02 am

    I think even if I was single and attending friends weddings I would still think there would be a plus one option and I’d want to take someone. Especially if the only person I knew there was the bride. A friend of mine took her teenage son as her plus one to a wedding we both attended to recently which was actually really lovely. Thanks so much for sharing at #KCACOLS hope to see you back next time!

    • thesingleswan
      October 10, 2016 / 9:26 pm

      Ah, that’s lovely to be able to take a friend, or sister or family member rather than a partner. It is difficult though. Weddings are so expensive these days. I can totally understand why the bridal party and couple might want to keep guest numbers down. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      October 10, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      thanks! Pen x

  11. October 9, 2016 / 8:59 am

    I think the key is for the bridal party to acknowledge your single and place you on the right table. I went to my cousins wedding a few years ago and my sister and other cousins were put on a “couples table ” and i was lumbered with strangers who were all couples that knew each other and were discussing toddler groups and breast feeding ( my idea of hell) and fast forward to the next cousins wedding, I said I am only coming if you put me with people I know! Im not a fan of weddings (having been divorced twice) and often go under duress (usually my grandparents make me) but well done for you to not giving a s*** and going and giving it a go! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      October 10, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Ah, thank you. To be fair, the bride at this wedding ( a good friend of mine) did make a real effort to put me on a table where there would be people with whom I could have a conversation. This isn’t easy for the bridal party to pull off, but i could tell that they had really made the effort and that was really nice. Pen x

  12. October 9, 2016 / 4:05 pm

    Well done for going and even better for writing this great post. I had a few dodgy experiences of rocking up solo but I never went to a wedding.


    mainy – myrealfairy recently posted…Easy Lemon CurdMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 10, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      Thanks for your comment Mainy. It is always good to see you on my blog. Pen x

  13. October 10, 2016 / 9:00 am

    I love the advice you give, especially about dancing. It can be so easy to sit in the corner, but being brave enough to get up can make the night a totally different experience!

    The Tale of Mummyhood recently posted…National Trust – We Love You!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 10, 2016 / 9:21 pm

      Thank you. I am glad you found it useful. Pen x

  14. October 10, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Some great tips and good on your for going. Even when I go to a wedding with my husband I often find opportunities to take a time out and go for a walk. It’s rare to be at a wedding where you know loads of people so it can be quite draining always making small talk / getting to know folk! #KCACOLS
    Angela Watling recently posted…My Top 10 Online Reads – September 2016My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 17, 2016 / 8:37 pm

      Hi Angela,

      I know what you mean about taking time out to go for a walk or decompress. Weddings can be quite full on! Pen x

  15. October 11, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    Aw I’m glad you had a good time and that you were brave enough to go ☺️ Great tips that I wholeheartedly agree with. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      October 14, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Pen x #KCACOLS

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