beach wedding

The mysterious envelope drops through your door. You pick it up and rip it open to find a handmade, glitter-clad wedding invitation. The announcement is loud and clear. Your ex and their partner have decided to make things official. Oh yes, they’re tying the knot and they’ve decided they want you to witness the whole darn thing. Feeling confused? Here’s how you can handle the situation with true class.

Do Think Twice About Attending

It might be a radical notion but you don’t have to attend the wedding simply because you’ve been invited. Let that sink in. Before you rush out and buy a hat for the oh-so-special day, take a moment to really consider whether you want to go or not. If you search the depths of your soul and realize you’re a) not ready to go to your ex’s wedding or b) just plain don’t want to, that’s completely fine. This is 100% your call.

woman guest at a wedding

Don’t Go if You’re Not Over Them

Are you really over your ex? Be honest. Recent research from the Binghamton University and University College London found women suffer higher levels of emotional pain during a breakup than men do. If you’re still crying yourself to sleep at night while watching The Notebook on repeat, you might want to avoid attending your ex’s wedding.

Whether it’s been two weeks (unlikely… but you never know!) or 10 years since you broke up, there’s no shame in admitting you’re still hurt. Own that emotion. Just don’t own it on the dance floor of your ex’s wedding reception while weeping and tunelessly singing the latest Adele hit. You don’t want to be that girl. Nobody does.

Do Get a Brand New Outfit

If you’ve determined yes, you are absolutely over your ex, going to their wedding is an adult gesture. However, you’re not a saint. The last thing you want is to turn up to the big day looking like you just rolled out of bed and sprinted over. No. You deserve to look incredible. Plus, it could give you the boost you need.

woman trying on dresses

One psychological theory suggests the clothes we wear can have a direct impact on our cognitive processes, i.e. how we think. Experts have put forward the notion of “enclothed cognition,” which is the effect our outfit can have on how we feel. Wearing a new dress that makes you feel powerful and beautiful could make all the difference.

Don’t Try to Outshine the Bride

While you want to look awesome, you musn’t outshine the bride. You need to walk the tightrope here. This is her special day and she won’t take too kindly to being upstaged by her soon-to-be husband’s ex.

When it comes to picking your outfit, rule out any tight-fitted, low cut, and uber short little numbers. Search for a dress that makes you feel incredible but is still sophisticated and chic. That might be a tall order but it’s an excuse to have a serious shopping trip.

bride with her wedding guest

Do Take the Time to Compliment Her

Put yourself in the bride’s shoes. She’s been a big person and agreed to let her fiance’s ex come to her wedding. That’s a massive deal. The least you could do here is try to make her feel comfortable with that decision by showing you’re not a threat. Throwing a compliment or two her way when you say hello is a simple way to do just that.

Remember, complimenting someone is an art form. Research suggests a genuine compliment can increase happiness levels and improve social interactions. However, you don’t want to come across as fake. To avoid this tricky issue, choose something you’re genuinely impressed by to compliment. Be specific. For instance, you might love the bride’s hair or the flowers she picked out. Be honest and you’re onto a winner.

Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol

When the champagne is flowing, it’s easy to get carried away and guzzle down more than you should. Cool it. Spoiler: alcohol makes people do and say things they would never dream of doing or saying when they’re sober. Alcohol limits the amount of oxygen your brain gets, which basically turns you into a giant child.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink or two at the wedding, but set yourself a limit. You know yourself better than anybody else. Decide how much is an acceptable amount and stick to it. It might sound boring but the hangover and cringingly embarrassing flashbacks the next day are not worth it.

wedding guests drinking

Do Take a Date (if You Have a Plus One)

If you’ve been granted a plus one on the wedding invitation (and you’re dating someone), you’d better use it. Taking that special someone with you will only help to ease any social awkwardness. You’ve moved on and you’ve got someone new on your arm to prove it. Plus, having a friendly face by your side will help calm any nerves you may have.

Golden rule: tell your date it’s your ex’s wedding in advance. Seriously. If you keep that little nugget of information to yourself and the person you take finds out when you’re there, it could be a disaster. The best case scenario here is they think it’s no big deal and act graciously. The worst is they feel like a pawn in your childish revenge plot, freak out, and leave you at the dinner table. You don’t want to risk it.

The takeaway is simple. So long as you’re on good terms and you’re over them, attending your ex’s wedding doesn’t have to be a huge drama. Take things easy. This day is not at all about you. It’s about two people, who love one another, making a lifelong commitment. Leave the fact you used to date one of them at the door and have a blast.