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Are Weddings Great Places for Hook-Ups or Something Else Entirely?

At Refinery29, Kasandra Brabow has a question: “How did wedding hookups become a thing?

“While so many movies involve two hot people finding each other at a reception or exchanging eyes over the vows, any wedding I’ve ever been to has been full of second and third cousins or people I’ve known since high school (and definitely wouldn’t want to take back to my room after the vows). So how did weddings, which are often a family-and-friends affair, become an event where singles can expect to find a one-night-stand or, if they’re lucky, the love of their life?”

Brabow asked me what I thought, and she quoted me briefly. Let me tell you more about what I think of this.

At weddings, people are dressed elegantly and often look sexy, there’s free-flowing alcohol, music, and a celebratory spirit. The newlyweds are in the throes of romance, and in the minds of the attendees, eager to get out of there and have some hot sex. The wedding is only going to last a certain amount of time, and there are people there you have never seen before and may well never see again. That, to me, sounds like a set-up to tempt people to hook up with a guest, and who knows, maybe even continue to see each other afterwards.

Or at least that’s the script that gets popularized in the predictable plots in movies and TV.

Imagine how refreshing and heartening it would be if another, more realistic script became popular. Weddings can be great opportunities to spend time with friends and relatives we really care about but don’t see as often as we might like. Sometimes they are chances to catch up with people we think about fondly but haven’t seen in a very long time. At weddings, there is music, good food and drinks, a relaxed atmosphere, and enough time to settle in and have a nice long chat. What a great setting for deepening our bonds with the people in our lives who mean so much more to us than a hook-up ever could.

Newlyweds today, unlike several decades ago, are often in their late twenties, early thirties or even older if it is their first marriage. Plenty of others are divorced and on their second or third marriage. These are cues reminding us that marriage takes up a smaller slice of our adult lives than it ever has before (and for people who do not marry, it takes up no part of our lives at all). Those cues remind us of how important our other relationships are, such as our friendships and our connections with relatives and mentors and anyone else who matters to us. Sexual relationships just don’t have the same uncontested special place that they once did.

I think a Lady Bird sort of movie could do a lot with a theme like that. It would be new, touching, and true.

Photo by heidi_glaab

Are Weddings Great Places for Hook-Ups or Something Else Entirely?

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2018). Are Weddings Great Places for Hook-Ups or Something Else Entirely?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 15, 2018, from


Last updated: 7 May 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 May 2018
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