In the new comedy Wedding Crashers, two divorce mediators and longtime friends get their kicks by inviting themselves to other people's weddings. They scarf down hors d'oeuvres, drink from the open bar, tear up the dance floor and compete to meet -- and bed -- bodacious bridesmaids and other single women.
For singles who have their minds on something more meaningful than a roll in the hay, professional matchmakers, wedding professionals and relationship experts agree, weddings can be the ideal place to meet someone special.
"There's something that happens at a wedding that happens no other place, because two people have come there to stand before their community of friends and family and declare their love for each other. That itself makes this occasion so full of love and joy," says the Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, a Jamaica Hills, N.Y., interfaith minister who performs about 50 marriages a year.
"A single person can really bathe in that feeling. It's like you breathe in love at the ceremony, and by the time you get to the reception you want to share it."
While some singles take a friend or date to a wedding, matchmaker and relationship expert Barbie Adler recommends going solo.
"A lot of times, people think that they need a date to go to the wedding," says Adler, who runs a national matchmaking with headquarters in Chicago and a Web site, www.meetyour future.com. "If you bring somebody, even a casual friend, it communicates to other people that you're taken."
Bringing a friend or date can also work for you, counters L. Joan Allen, a professional matchmaker from Baltimore and co-author of Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate (Capital Books, $16.95).
If the bride and groom are in their 20s or early 30s, chances are good they'll have single guests in that age range, Allen says. However, it can be a very different experience if the couple is over 40, as Allen found when she was the only single person at a wedding with 150 couples. After that, she decided not to take that chance again. "I made sure I brought a male friend," she says. "That way I would have someone to dance with, and I could introduce him to available women, and he could introduce me to single guys."
Allen suggests first asking the bride and groom whether there are other eligible singles on their guest list. If only a few are expected, then you can ask if you can bring a guest.
"They might say, 'Oh, yeah. We have a bachelor coming in from Boston. He's 6 feet tall and a graduate of Harvard,'" Allen says. (However, given the possibility that things might not work out that way, she suggests having realistic expectations.)
Weddings are a matchmaker's paradise, so don't hesitate to use the built-in social network of friends and family to help you meet someone.
"I think it's important to go into it with the idea of being very friendly, saying hello to everyone you know, in terms of optimizing the potential there," says Manhattan psychologist Diana Kirschner, author of Opening Love's Door: The Seven Lessons (iUniverse Inc., $14.95).
If you see someone who intrigues you, learn whatever you can about him or her and then ask another guest to introduce you -- or summon your courage, walk over and introduce yourself.
"You can talk about his profession or her hobbies, and you've got a topic because you've done your research," Kirschner says. "You make eye contact and you make a comment about the wedding." Then you might discuss how both of you know the bride and groom and other topics, she says. Observe the other person's body language for signs that he or she is interested -- or not.
If so, keep it going, she says. If not (you'll know if he or she isn't leaning toward you or making eye contact or appears more interested in something -- or someone -- across the room), politely excuse yourself and continue meeting other people.
No matter how much you've got love on your mind, keep one thing uppermost in your thoughts: The focus should be on the bride and groom.