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The Singles Table

I just got back from a whirlwind wedding tour that took me to San Diego and Traverse City, Michigan—two out-of-town weddings back to back, although both couples reside here in Chicago. That’s the thing about thirtysomething weddings: The betrothed often eschew holding the ceremony in one of their own hometowns in favor of some fancy resort in an exotic (or at least out of town) locale. While it can place a bit of a burden on the guests, the getaway wedding weekend almost always ends up being more fun than the traditional in-town, one-night occasion at a local hotel, and it allows for more bonding time with the couple’s family and friends. Since I’m one of those sentimental types who loves getting to know the parents and cries at speeches, I’m a total sucker for that stuff.

I just got back from a whirlwind wedding tour that took me to San Diego and Traverse City, Michigan-two out-of-town weddings back to back, although both couples reside here in Chicago. That’s the thing about thirtysomething weddings: The betrothed often eschew holding the ceremony in one of their own hometowns in favor of some fancy resort in an exotic (or at least out of town) locale. While it can place a bit of a burden on the guests, the getaway wedding weekend almost always ends up being more fun than the traditional in-town, one-night occasion at a local hotel, and it allows for more bonding time with the couple’s family and friends. Since I’m one of those sentimental types who loves getting to know the parents and cries at speeches, I’m a total sucker for that stuff.

Wherever the location, weddings tend to become big-and sometimes lame-pickup scenes for those seated at the proverbial singles table. At one wedding in my early twenties, I was stuck next to a guy who thought it would be a good idea to try to look down my dress using the reflection from his spoon. Then there was the time after college when I actually had a destination-wedding boyfriend for the duration of the weekend; by the time Sunday brunch rolled around, our parents had us practically married off. (He’s married now; I’m obviously not.)

At wedding number one of my most recent circuit, the singles table was more of an old-friends table, which gave me a chance to catch up with college buddies. There were plenty of single men in attendance, most of whom I already know from running in overlapping social scenes at home-although I did learn one new thing about this group. The guys use a rating system that awards a woman points based on face, body, and how good she is in bed. There are a couple of other variables that may come into play, like how much her father is worth. They gave me an 8 each for face and body, which I accepted dubiously if graciously, since I was told almost no one scores a 9 (they asked me to rate myself in bed; I gave myself a ten-plus, of course). Interesting subject matter for a wedding where one of your best friends is tying the knot (I’m guessing she rated pretty highly, too).

At wedding number two, I was seated at the bridesmaids table, even though I wasn’t in the bridal party. (The backstory: A few months ago, the groom set me up with a friend of his from New York and, for about a month, we engaged in a long-distance affair that ended badly after he visited. He was seated at the New Yorkers table, and we steered clear of each other for most of the weekend, which might have been why I was seated at the bridal table on the other end of the room.) Which just goes to show: If you’re not participating in the pickup scene at weddings, you’re probably playing a game of dodgeball-especially when you and the ex share mutual friends.

At this particular wedding, I didn’t learn of any rating systems, thankfully, but I was asked more than once why I didn’t have a man in my life. “You’re so cute,” the matron of honor said to me at the rehearsal dinner and again at brunch on Sunday. “Why aren’t you with anyone?” (She herself is adorable and got married about a month ago to an equally adorable guy.) I know she was just being sweet, but it’s never an easy question to answer. My old response, “I guess I’m just picky,” can come across as snobbish, so I’ve moved on to “I haven’t met the right guy yet"-often adding, “but keep your eyes open for me!” Sometimes that garners looks of pity. And sometimes it gets me a setup.

My whirlwind wedding tour didn’t end with any love connections, but I came away with a new appreciation for the institution of marriage after watching two sincerely in-love couples and four dear friends begin new lives together. Hey, if that rating system has any shred of accuracy, my time may come soon.

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