Talking to Humans at Weddings

It is wedding season and that means trying to talk to another person that you don’t know, who is from a totally different life situation, and who you will never meet again while you eat dry cake. First, I very recently subjected most of you to this experience. But at least my cake was MOIST!


So I am sorry, I really am. I am sure you did a fabulous job of finding something to say to my cousin/high school friend. But here are some thoughts on how I would like to improve my wedding conversation game:

1. I really really want to not ask what a person does for a living. I actually come from a part of the country where this is a polite question, but it is still a bad question. If someone is a stay at home mom, out of work, or a contract killer they shouldn’t have to tell people (unless they bring it up). Also, for MOST people this is a dead end question, though you can always get a little This American Life and really find the unexpected details. I actually like learning about the inane specifics of how people get through every minute of their jobs, but often they don’t enjoy telling me those details. And they feel like they have to reciprocate and . . . we’re done. Academia is the death of all conversations.

2. People LOVE to talk about their children and dogs. Especially if their kids are adults. As long as you keep it super specific, “so does he prefer My Little Pony or Ninjago?” this can be a very generative starting point. Asking what grade they are in is not a specific question. This last point is also true with actual children. If you ask them what grade they are in they have no where else to go in conversation. What are you going to ask next? Do they they like their teacher?

3. Asking how they know the bride and groom is a perfectly acceptable opener, but you are going to need a pivot pretty soon.

4. WHAT DO HUMANS TALK ABOUT? I think TV, but I might be overly optimistic.

5. If people don’t ask me questions I want to get better at not caring and just sitting there in silence. People who ask no questions should be punished.



3 thoughts on “Talking to Humans at Weddings

  1. D, you and W have nothing to worry about, your wedding was super fun.

    This is a problem that is magnified at weddings, but one that I am facing more and more the older I get. It’s so hard not asking people what they do that I often find myself doing one worse and discussing the weather. However, I actually kind of like it when someone brings up the weather to me. It’s such a relief, like, cool, thank you for letting me off the hook and allowing me to be boring. We can now be boring together and enjoy the cake.

    I wish there were something that, like sports, you could just kind of launch into and have a reasonable hope that the other person will be able to converse. Sports are one of the last vestiges of mass culture, right? And as popular as sports are, there’s still a significant gender gap. Kids can be okay to talk about, but usually only if you’re talking to someone else who has kids or is close to some kids. Even that gets super boring after a while.

    Mastering polite chit chat with strangers means you win at being an adult.

  2. Yeah talking about the weather is great, especially if I didn’t bring it up. Sports? It must really be a sign of the kind of world I live in that I don’t think I have even heard someone bring up sports at a wedding/playground/dinner party.

    Really we should all just accept that allowing adults to show each other Youtube videos of baby sloths on their phones at all social events would totally solve this problem.

  3. To me the problem of weddings is the lack of stuff directly in front of your face to discuss. You can only talk about how great the bride looks and the pretty flowers for so long.

    My solution: everyone must watch a pre-selected film and read a pre-selected but brief article before attending the wedding. Then there is communal material readily at hand for discussion.

    This would never, ever work but it’s brilliant, right?

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