Except for all the awkward moments when you’re a guest without a plus-one, and the only person you know is the bride.
Dinner is stilted small talk at the singles table, before you sadly conclude that your own happily ever after is not going to be found there. The dance floor is even worse, when your idea of dancing is standing and swaying–and hoping that you’re in time with the music.
I learned to sit back and observe at occasions like this. If you just take the time to notice, there is actually a lot going on besides the obvious spectacle of all the events arranged for the bride and groom.
There was the maid of honour, who I saw tailing the bride out of the bathroom, holding up the train of the wedding gown. It was one of those things you never consider, but is obvious once you see it–of course the bride would need constant assistance with such a long, heavy dress.
Later, I passed a small alcove where the bride and bridesmaids were gathered, chatting quietly. The atmosphere felt like being backstage during the interval of a performance, the wedding party in the role of actors taking a break before they go out for the next act. Which they did, not long after–the bride returned to her rounds of the guests, and then to the dance floor with her new husband.
Then there was the server whose task was to collect all the sugar holders and return them to the sideboard, after the guests had finished their coffee. He would load up a tray, bring it to the sideboard, then arrange the square holders carefully, making sure they lined up exactly. He would squint down the line and shift one a little to the left, or turn another slightly, so it was all perfect. It didn’t matter that his hard work would surely be ruined at the next function, he took particular pride in seeing them stored just so.
The band, discussing which key they should be using for the next song and looking to the drummer to count off the rhythm. The girl who spent a good twenty minutes cajoling her little brother onto the dance floor, where he promptly became the centre of attention with his three-year-old version of breakdancing. The rowdy guests that went to a corner and used the cameras provided on the night to take a series of hilariously inappropriate photos, as a little surprise for the bride and groom.
Everywhere you look, there is always something to see. The quirky mannerisms, meaningful gestures and human relationships at these special occasions are a writer’s dream. And really, it doesn’t have to be at a wedding. You can do this anywhere, if you have the time to sit and watch.
For me, the wedding was exactly what I needed for my novel. There’s a scene with a big engagement ball, and I drew heavily from what I’d seen at the wedding to give it depth and realism–the bride-to-be struggling with her dress, the weariness after a night of playing host, the interactions of the musicians. It also gave me great fodder for the other parts, such as a particular character’s personality, and the kind of pranks someone else could pull.
There’s so much out there that can enrich your writing. People are out there living life, and it’s right there for you to capture on your page. I’m going to make an effort to stop watching my phone or my book and start watching others. How about you?
Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on a young adult novel with a kick-ass heroine. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and random musings on writing.