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How To Not Be An Asshole At A Wedding

I attended a wedding this weekend where the bride and groom were two friends from high school that I’ve known for many years. All of my best friends from high school were there. Even my ex-girlfriend from high school was there, who I hadn’t seen since she punched me in the face around a decade ago. Let’s just say it was a scene with a high possibility of drama.

Here’s how a much younger Mike would have showed up to the wedding:
“Weddings are bullshit. What a waste of money. They aren’t going to be together in a couple years anyway. Where’s the open bar?”

In the past I was literally the worst person to bring to a wedding. I won’t even go into the stories, but on multiple occasions I was “that guy.” Let’s just say I was a total asshole.

Here’s how modern day Mike showed up to the wedding:
“I’m so thankful for being here. What a beautiful venue. This marriage will certainly stand the test of time. Where’s the dance floor?”

So what changed?

I sat in deep introspection this morning and really pondered on that question. What changed that allowed me to show up as literally a different person? Here are the main three differences that I came up with.


1. I’m Thankful For Every Moment

As you get older you start to realize that there is a finite amount of time that you will live on this earth. For some they realize it after a near death experience. For others it’s after reading a moving passage or book. For me it was when my mom passed away last summer.

Nowadays I move through life slowly, enjoying every minute of it. I savor each bite of every meal. I’m thankful for every minute I get to spend with my family, friends, and girlfriend. Every time I walk outside I look up at the sun, clouds, and trees and bask in the beauty of wherever my surroundings are. I’m even totally content just sitting around and doing nothing.

Every day is the best day of my life.

And when you show up with that attitude at a wedding, you can’t help but have an awesome time.


2. I Live Life With An Open Heart

I used to believe love wasn’t real. That’s quite the limiting belief when you’re in a relationship.

I see many examples of couples who have similar issues. Either because of past experiences, trust issues, or lack of self-confidence, they hold back and don’t take the plunge into being totally vulnerable. How can you expect to thrive as a couple if you come into a union with a closed off, guarded heart?

Over the course of primarily the past year, I’ve learned to live life with an open heart. Instead of fearing getting hurt, I let myself be totally open and give all of myself to any new relationship. Here’s a pictorial representation of how I dive into relationships and friendships now (minus the bungee cords):

Granted, I will be hurt more than the man who lives through life with a closed heart, but the strength and depth of my relationships will be worth it.

Showing up to a wedding with an open heart makes you forget the times when your friends did you wrong and lets you experience them for the people who they are today. It let’s you be happy and hopeful for the newlyweds instead of sad and cynical. And it even kept me from getting punched in the face again.


3. I Don’t Care About What Other People Think

When I was getting my MBA at Ohio State, I taught a business fundamentals class on public speaking, ethics, and corporate social responsibility. One of my students handed in an essay with a quote on it that instantly changed the way that I look at life:

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”

I always keep three favorite quotations on my Facebook profile. From the moment I read this quote, it instantly went up there.

Not caring about what other people think has been one of the most liberating things in the world. It has allowed me to push through the fear and do things that I never would have done before. For example, I sang karaoke for the first time in front of people at a bar in NYC a couple weeks ago. For some that might seem like nothing, but for me it was a big deal.

On a similar note, one of my friends admitted to me at the wedding that this was the first time that he had ventured out onto the dance floor in front of others. He didn’t even dance at his own wedding. It touched me so much to watch someone get over one of his fears right in front of me. And then we danced our faces off like a couple of seven year olds.

In the past I cared a lot about what people thought of me. Especially at a large social gathering with hundreds of strangers like a wedding. I’d overindulge in alcohol to get the courage to dance or talk to strangers which always ended up in a comically disastrous way.

Now I laugh, dance, sing, and hug everywhere I go as if I was in the comfort of my own living room. And everywhere I go I feel totally comfortable.


In closing, I leave you with one of the most overused quotes in the history of quotes. I even closed out my high school valedictorian speech with it (I know, cheesy). But writing this post just now made me think of it, and with the lens that I look through life it means so much more to me now. Read it slowly line-by-line this time and see if you gain any new insights from it.

Dance like no one’s watching,
Love like you’re never been hurt,
Sing like no one’s listening,
Live like heaven is on earth.

  • Natalie Vartanian

    So beautifully written Mike. Moved me to tears re-reading that quote with new eyes and savoring each line. Thank you for your wisdom and your big ol’ heart!

    • Mike Hrostoski

      I know. I’ve seen it literally a thousand times, but it just sort of came to me as I was closing the post. And this time it actually meant something.

  • Mandi P.

    It was really terrific seeing you. It was like being around the Mike I know and love, but a much “lighter” more positive one. Your happiness literally beams through you and I think it really affected everyone at our little table in a positive way. Don’t be a stranger next time you’re in town!
    Mo mo mo luv.

    • Mike Hrostoski

      Thanks yo. It’s hard to believe I’m even the same person. High school/college Mike was such a trainwreck. Mo mo mo luv.

  • Ben Holt

    Good article all around, but the part about having an open heart popped out at me. Having an open heart can indeed be painful. I’ve found that the pain is scary, but momentary. Beyond it lies a certain freedom that can’t be experienced until we let ourselves experience that vulnerability.

    Way to tell it like it is, Mike.

    • Mike Hrostoski

      Yes, I’ve been experimenting with openness for the past couple of months. I”ve found that it instantly deepens relationships, both with my girlfriend and with friends. You get down to the heart of what matters and keep those communication lanes open. Thanks for the note! 🙂

  • Matthew g bailey

    Good post dude. I agree about the worst fear being ohers opinions. I cant say im completely over that but taking a public speaking course def opened me up a lot and helped me on my path of adventure. Theres many things that would not have happened had instill beem as scared of what people think as i was in high school. Yay. Hah

    • Mike Hrostoski

      If you can run off of a 200 foot ledge strapped to a bungee cord, you can do anything. Leverage the courage and confidence from that experience into whatever else you’re afraid of. I do it all the time with my skydiving, Olympic skeleton, or bungee jumping experiences. For example, if I’m afraid to say something to my close friend or afraid to hit send on a difficult email, I’ll say to myself, “I jumped out of a fucking airplane! This is a piece of cake!” Then I’ll do whatever I was afraid of. 😉

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  • Lil_z_90

    I’m about to face a very harrowing situation in my life by also attending a wedding in July that my ex-fiance will be at with her boyfriend of 2 years. I introduced the bride and groom, was best friends with the groom, and I introduced her to the bride and groom yet she’ll be one of the bridesmaids and I won’t have the pleasure of being one of the groomsmen. Why? Because I’m an asshole. I’m scared to show up for fear that I’ll ruin everything at the simple sight of her being with her boyfriend while I show up with no one. (again because I’m an asshole) I can only hope I find the strength that you have found to change my ways and my future.

    • Mike Hrostoski

      Walk in that wedding with a fresh haircut, shiny shoes and looking oh so fresh and so clean. Talk to everyone, dance, and don’t worry about the opinions of others. You can do it man.