For the generic college bro on campus, nothing is as terrifying as the concept of commitment; even the occasional bout with alcohol poisoning or the gnarly digestive feedback from old and crusty pizza is no match for the fear of getting tied down. For most, a 10-week-long, once-a-week symposium course tests the outward limitations of commitment. Speaking from anecdotal evidence, even the prospect of purchasing a new pair of shoes at Macy’s is an experience rife with anxiety, frustrated salesmen and a couple of advice-seeking Snapchats. If your experience has been anything like that of my own — having been raised in an Orthodox home and having attended Orthodox day schools throughout my childhood — or even tangentially connected to the Orthodox world, you are likely knee-deep in wedding invitations. Navigating the world of frum nuptials requires the perfect amount of tact and class. Herein lies the ultimate guideline for making an Orthodox wedding into a fun, rewarding and slightly less awkward experience for guys.
Step 1: Uber or carpool. Whatever you do, do not drive! The implications of bringing your car to a wedding are necessarily disastrous. Either the wedding will be a complete bore without the necessary social lubricant, alcohol, or perhaps worse, a life-ending and impaired decision to drive afterwards.
Step 2: Exploit the OPEN bar. Nearly all weddings offer patrons an open bar policy. For the unfortunate soul that financed the wedding, an open bar at an Orthodox function has the worst return on investment — religious Jews don’t drink*, but you do. But, make sure to pace yourself. Balancing your collegiate-instilled tendency towards alcoholism with socially acceptable sobriety is a must. Don’t binge. Weddings require stamina and strategy — you’re running a marathon, not a sprint. A series of well-timed shots and perfectly situated beers should be enough to get you there and keep you there. Lastly, make sure to keep a cool beer in your off-hand at all times. You must be able to shake when introduced to someone but also manage to exude an aura of chilled confidence.
Step 3: Isolate a wingman. Chances are you got an invitation for a reason; you’ll know, at the very minimum, a few people there. The hors d’oeuvre hour before the chupah should provide you with sufficient time to ingest your first two drinks and isolate an old friend, acquaintance or mutual friend to serve as a sturdy and reliable wingman. Work the room, and avoid long and drawn out conversations. This period is introductory in nature. Meet lots of people. Unforced and flirtatious face-time as you work the room is key.
Step 4: Dance. You’re going into the night with a handicap, bro. Your killer dance moves are hereby rendered moot by virtue of a pretty extensive wall. Tonight you have to dance, but with dudes only. Ideally you’ve already had several drinks, and perhaps an additional two should serve to ease the transition into the dancing circle. Traditionally, men hold hands when dancing. Identify the most hygiene-sensitive men, and try to shoot the gap and grab their hands. Avoid interlocking fingers, and maintain a tenuous grasp of their hands. Take the circle for a few rotations, and if you’re feeling comfortable enough, display your moves in the center. Try to avoid a sweat and keep hydrated.
Step 5: Find the right girls to talk to. Here things get tricky. Weddings are always host to a bevvy of attractive and interesting girls. But, connecting with the right girl will require some keen judgment on your part. First, many of the girls, however attractive, are likely beyond your league. It may take a moment to digest the fact that religious girls are generally uninterested in the average bro — the two share virtually nothing in common. Use the visual queues to avoid an embarrassing mishap. Girls whose elbows and knees are entirely covered, likely dressed in darker shades, or are even wearing stockings, are, for the purposes of generalizations, out of your league. Instead, focus on girls, who like yourself, seem a bit more out of place. Be courteous, interesting and friendly. Make sure to give compliments; after all, preparing for a wedding requires considerable prep time and you should be the guy that notices. Ask questions and be playful. No one wants to hear a guy talk about himself at length.
Step 6: Wear the right yarmulke. The kippah bespeaks volumes to the head it sits on. After all, the wrong yarmulke selection could mislabel you as a pariah. Avoid kippot made of felt, velvet or any fabric other than leather. A yarmulke from your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah at a Reform temple has the potential to ruin your night. Stay conservative with a dark-colored leather yarmulke. Exploit the superficial nature of Orthodox yarmulke judgment; don’t hate the player, hate the game.
While the wisdom I have imparted to you is certain to bring some boyish fun to even the most sobering of events, make sure you take something back with you as well. Take a moment to muse on your surroundings. While you might not be in a state of mind to envision yourself as a committed and responsible partner, at the very minimum, commend those around you that are.
*Some Chassidic sects can rage pretty hard.