Here Is What Happens When You Agree to Participate in a Flash Mob at Your Friend’s Wedding

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I am on the far right here, ruining the synchronicity with my limp wrists.

So you’ve agreed to be in a flash mob at your friend’s wedding. What happens now?

Well, lots of things. It could go in a bunch of different directions. But as a veteran of multiple (2) wedding flash mobs, I can tell you one thing: It is not going to go the way you think it is.

For example, when you first come up with the idea of doing a flash mob (or when some bridesmaid does, because honestly, you would never have such a ridiculous idea), you all imagine it’s going to go something like this:

 

But actually, it is going to go a lot more like this:

 

You will realize this pretty early on in the rehearsal process.

Here’s roughly how this whole thing is going to unfold.

A FEW MONTHS OUT: The whole thing starts when the aforementioned bridesmaid sends out an e-mail to a core group of friends, suggesting the dance. This will, at first blush, seem like a great idea. Likely the e-mail list will be comprised of the couple’s very close friends—the first ones they’d call if one of them were, say, in a freak hot air balloon accident. These people  would do anything for the couple. A few enthusiastic replies later, and maybe the group has come up with a song! Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” maybe, because the groom loves umbrellas! This is going to be great.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING: No one has made any progress choreographing the dance, no one has taken the lead on organizing rehearsals, and everyone is basically trying to forget they ever agreed to do this.  Suddenly these friends—the ones who would have heard about the bride plummeting to the earth from that punctured hot air balloon and literally run out into a field to catch the her with their bare arms—have too much to do at work to start up an e-mail chain again.

You will, however watch some wedding flash mob videos online. They do look fun…

 

TWO AND A HALF WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING: One true friend, a hero, even, will step up and make some choreography. In both cases that I’ve done this, we used songs from movies that already had a little bit of choreography to them. (One was “She’s a Maniac,” from Flashdance, and the other was “Footloose,” from Footloose.) Still, coming up with dance steps that make sense for an entire song is no easy thing, and remember, you’re not dealing with Jennifer Beale and Kevin Bacon, here. (And you’re especially not dealing with the professional dancers that played them during the most of their dance scenes, wearing those bad fright wigs.) You’re working with lay people who will be dancing in suits, ties, cocktail dresses and heels.

Still, that friend—that hero!—will write out the steps, and hopefully create a video that everyone can watch and learn from. Here is an excellent example of the genre, from the dance we did a few weeks ago at my friend Kim’s wedding. The choreographer is Chirag (last name redacted in case he is ever a Supreme Court judge some day), who is excellent at these things:

Thanks to this guy, you all have something to watch so you can practice at home.

ONE WEEK BEFORE THE WEDDING: None of you will have practiced at home.

FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE WEDDING: Some of you will frantically rehearse the moves alone in your apartment, but it turns out that it’s actually hard to learn dance moves when you are on your own and you are not a professional dancer. You will begin to panic about never learning this dance, and being the idiot out on the dance floor. (Later you will realize that you will all be the idiots. Fun idiots!)

 

It’s also around this time that, inevitably, one or more of you will ruin the surprise for the bride by mentioning the dance in front of her. Move on.

TWO DAYS BEFORE THE WEDDING: Many of you will arrive at the wedding location in a total panic. You do not know the moves, perhaps, or you can’t do the part with the twizzle. In some cases you may even learn about yourself that, like Zoolander, you cannot in fact turn left. At this point you begin frantic group rehearsals squeezed into random downtimes between wedding activities. You will rehearse in cramped hotel rooms. At night, you will rehearse in an empty parking lot, in front of highly unamused hotel workers.

Parking Lot Dance

THE DAY OF THE WEDDING: You will share your exciting plan with the wedding planner. She will not think it is exciting. In fact, she will hate your stupid idea. The last thing she needs is another hurdle for the evening, one that she has to manage around. It turns out, there is actually no good time to interrupt a wedding, clear off an entire dance floor, and have 30 grown adults act like they are at a recital during the YMCA’s annual Children’s Festival of Jazz.

If you choose to keep it a surprise, God help you if the bride is expecting to be the center of attention at the moment you take the stage. (Do it after they cut the cake, is my advice. She won’t want anyone looking at her as she wipes frosting off her face.)

THE BIG MOMENT: Here’s what you need to know about when it happens: people will be very confused, you will definitely mess it up, and most importantly, it will be great. If not great, it will be funny, and when it’s over you can stop worrying about it. Chances are the bride and groom will appreciate it, because what is a wedding but not a giant demonstration of the lengths we are willing to go for the people we love?

No one is going to videotape it in HD and edit it together into something that will have a million views on YouTube, I’m sorry to say. If someone does get it on film, you’ll just see all the mistakes you made, and anyway the star of the video will inevitably be the random poor old guy who thought that everyone had just spontaneously burst into dance and frantically tried to keep up. (That is, admittedly, hilarious to watch.)

But you’ll also give the couple an amusing tale to tell from their wedding, and that’s the most important thing. (“No, seriously, I’m telling you: some of them were forty.“) And you’ll have some really great pictures for the wedding album.

Wedding Snap

 

With a happy bride:

Wedding Dance Laugh

 

Meanwhile, as a postscript, in case you are interested, this is my favorite flash mob of all time:

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