When you think about it, weddings are basically just bigger 21st birthday parties

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All your friends are there and everyone’s way too drunk

The invitations have started arriving in the post. You try blocking them but still they come – the gushy Facebook posts, the statuses about hen dos and bridesmaid dresses. Wedding season is around the corner.

For the next few years of your life, you will watch as friend after friend consciously couples in front of a selected gathering of family and friends.

Sure, you may have gone to a wedding or two growing up, but nothing can prepare you for the onslaught of best man speeches and first dances that awaits you in your 20s. It’s an exhausting cycle of large-scale social events involving mini-reunions, flashes of drama and far, far too much alcohol.

Basically, weddings are just 21st birthday parties with higher stakes.

Nobody wants to go first

Remember how the first friend to turn 21 had to deal with how their party became the benchmark against which all other 21st birthday parties were judged? Weddings are no different. Whoever goes first in your group of friends has no real way of knowing if what they’re doing is any good. Their wedding will be the one with the tackiest decorations, the most obvious first dance song and the worst best man’s speech. In the same way everyone made a mental note to NEVER throw a 21st like Henry’s, everyone will learn what not to do from Will and Harriet’s special day.

…or last

August birthdays are about as tragic as the guy who didn’t find love until he was in his 40s.

They’re full of people you half-remember from previous parties

You vaguely remember meeting Sarah at a party before but not enough to be confident about anything other than the fact she’s called Sarah. Now you’re sat next to each other for the wedding breakfast and desperately trying to make small-talk so as not to seem rude. It’s basically a more formal version of the time you were waiting for the toilet at a 21st birthday party and struggled to make small-talk with the birthday girl’s friend from home.

21st or wedding?

21st or wedding?

There’s also a sprinkling of old family members

At uni, the only times you ever really met someone’s family were moving day or their 21st. Even now you’re older, getting drunk around your friend’s mum remains absolutely hilarious. You might be a proper adult now but there’s still a clear us vs them divide at weddings, as much as Uncle Jerry tries to break that down by regaling you with tales about the drug scene in the 80s.

It’s constantly referred to as a ‘special day’

And your conscience has to continually remind you not to do anything stupid in case you ruin the “special day”.

It’s the only time you have to remember the etiquette around toasting

There’s nothing about toasting at weddings that really makes a lot of sense, it’s just something we do. Circulating a round of drinks in addition to the drinks people already have is weird, expecting people to save enough of the drink so they can sip a little after each successive speech is even odder (especially when you’re never quite sure exactly how many speeches you’re letting yourself in for). While your normal down-the-pub toast is a messy, mumbled affair, only 21st birthdays and weddings have formal enough toasts to involve the phrase “please be upstanding”.

21st or wedding?

21st or wedding?

You will agonise about a gift FOR AGES

Weddings are arguably worse because you’ve got to try and figure out what the conjoined entity of Mark and Dana would like. Both weddings and 21sts share the fact that whoever you’re buying a present for will normally feel within their rights to produce a ridiculous list of suggestions to try and help you.

There’s always someone who has one without you realising

“Simon’s 21? When did that happen?”

“Think his birthday was last week, he went out for dinner with a few coursemates.”

“What, just a dinner? Where did he go?”

“Err…Jamie’s Italian I think.”

“Fuck that’s tragic. I’m glad I wasn’t invited.”

If you still think a small wedding reception is right for you, bear in mind this is how everyone will feel when they learn about the news from Facebook afterwards.

21st or wedding?

21st or wedding?

Someone isn’t invited and it’s really controversial

If you thought youthful bitchiness couldn’t get any worse than the time all of Laura’s house were invited to Alice’s 21st except her because Laura kissed Jo’s boyfriend in Freshers’ Week, just wait for when the wedding invitations come out in a few years and some people don’t get one. It’s even worse with weddings because the rejection is two-fold: once when the initial invites go out and again when you learn you weren’t even invited for the evening entertainment. Even Tim’s going to that and he never even liked Alice.

The entire thing is basically a massive reflection of the lucky boy/girl’s personality

Well of course Ellie arrived at the party on horseback. She loves horses.

Well of course Ellie and James left the wedding on horseback. She loves horses and James loves making Ellie happy.

21st or wedding?

21st or wedding?

Everyone attaches way too much importance to the cake

As foods go, cake is alright. It’s pretty nice, some are incredible, but it’s the kind of thing you’ve had enough in your life that it can’t ever really surprise you anymore. Despite this, someone cutting the cake at a wedding or a 21st birthday party is for some reason a momentous event. Not only do you have to eat the cake, you have to watch as someone slowly cuts into the cake while posing for several hundred photos. After watching this accomplishment, you then have to wait about an hour and a half before the cake is even cut fully and circulated. By the time it arrives, you can barely tell what flavour it is.

The whole thing is basically a massive piss-up

Some people will throw up, others will almost pass out. The one thing you can guarantee: few people will still be going past midnight.

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