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Spring can be a time of anxiety for many newly minted couples (or at least it can be for the female half of the equation). Wedding season is gearing up, and women want to know: Will I attend his best friend’s wedding with him? How do I make a good impression when I’m meeting his family and friends amidst strangers and wedding toasts?

All I can say is, girl, I have lived out all of your plus one nightmares, and I survived. That’s rightI agreed to go to a wedding on a first date—as in, relationship status: We just met. Ever felt like you have made a horrible mistake, but it was way too late to turn back? Yeah, this was like that.

At first I was thrilled to be going anywhere with the guy, even a wedding. I was crazy about him, and I thought it was so cute that he asked. But the anxiety began to build as I slowly realized what I was getting into.

First I had the usual, Oh my gosh, what do I wear?? panic. 

What do you wear to a wedding at which you know nobody . . . not even your date, really? It was a daytime wedding, but I had no idea what the venue was or who the bride and groom were, except that the groom was his former roommate. This was not good.

I hate asking my date what to wear. I don’t know about you, but one of the best things about getting dressed to go on a date is wowing the guy with a super-cute ensemble that is somehow magically perfect for the occasion. But, in this case, asking my date “how fancy” the wedding would be was unavoidable.

His reply was “semi-formal,” and I immediately regretted asking him. Bless them, but in my experience men typically don’t have a firm grasp on terminology for feminine dress code. Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details about my angst over what to wear. But, I can tell you I was a touch overdressed. The good news was, the bride and groom and the people there were lovely and not the sort of people who cared at all that I was a bit more semi-formal than Sunday best.

Then I met his friends and was introduced by just my name.

I have never known how comforting it is to be introduced to a stranger with a recommendation, if you will, by the person you are with. Introductions like, “Hey, this is Monica. She and I knew each other from way back . . .” or, “Rob, have you met my girlfriend, Monica?” or even just, “This is Monica, the girl I keep talking to you about” are far better than anything I got on that wedding date. My date introduced me to his confused and curious friends with, “This is Monica . . .” Just Monica. The mystery friend.

If you are horrified for me, you should be—that’s why I’m telling this story. But, in this guy’s defense, we weren’t quite friends yet (we had only met a week prior), and we definitely weren’t official. This was the first date, and I’m sure neither of us were really sure if we would survive the wedding. His friends probably weren’t quite sure why “just Monica” was there. And neither was I.

As for my date’s parents? Well, we sat at their table for dinner. I can say from experience that the only thing worse than trying to make conversation on a first date is having his parents sitting next to you at the table and watching you blush and struggle. Oh, and his dad was the photographer for the wedding, and he took a shot of us, on our first date, smiling awkwardly and not touching.

Don’t worry, it gets better.

Finally, we danced to super-cool (read: too cool for me) jazz music.

On the white chick dancing spectrum, I am closer to "can dance" than "can’t dance." But I’m talking getting groovy to hip hop songs, throwbacks, and anthems—which require as much dancing skill as a pogo stick.

As my date asked me to join him on the brightly lit dance floor, I learned something new about him a little too late. He can dance, likes dancing, and has good taste in music (as do his friends the bride and groom, apparently). Cue extremely awkward struggling on the dance floor. This night kept getting better and better.

Instead of getting to wing it with my fine-tuned pogo stick dancing to wedding reception classics such as “Sweet Caroline,” there was an awesome live band that played cool jazzy songs I’d never heard of and swing numbers that required actual skill. And did my date know how to swing dance? Of course he did. Except that we were both pretty nervous, so I kept trying to lead, and we stepped on each other’s toes . . . not to mention the fact that our budding romance had not afforded us the opportunity to build any real chemistry. So yeah, dancing was a struggle.

The evening ended when the last song was over, and as he drove from view after dropping me home that night, I gently banged my head against the wall several times.

The funny thing is, while most women might have been thinking, “Why did I EVER agree to do that??” I was thinking, “He probably thinks I’m such a loser!” Instead of nixing any thought of date number two, I was anxious that there wouldn’t be one. That’s right, despite all that awkwardness, I still really wanted to see this guy again.

It’s not that I was desperate; I had been dating other guys, too. I just really liked this guy. I liked how kind he was; you could hear it in the way he talked. And I liked that he was bold enough to take me to a wedding on a first date.

So, you see, not only did I survive this ordeal, but in the end I was also happy I suffered through it. Oftentimes when the odds are against us, our best self shines through—even if we feel out of place. Being gracious and humble (even when you feel like a party crasher) will make a better impression than even the most perfect dress for the occasion.

Today, two years later, we are both happy we struggled through that first date (and even that first dance). That wedding was just the first of many funny and embarrassing stories during our courtship that make our marriage today a strong friendship. In fact, we still have that picture his dad took on our first date, and we like to laugh at how awkward we looked. Little did we know that one of the next weddings we would attend together would be our own.

Photo Credit: Erynn Christine