If there’s anywhere that can make you feel out of your depth, it’s attending a formal event with people you don’t know. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a plus one or recognize some people in attendance, this can still be the case.
Formal events run a wide spectrum, from being invited to the wedding of your best friend’s sibling, to an important corporate event that speaks to your career growth. It might be that you’re dressed up for a luxury evening meal in a beautiful restaurant, or perhaps you’ve taken on a novel holiday like riding from country to country on the Orient Express – and you’re simply not permitted into the dining carriage without your best formal dress.
Perhaps you’re going to the official horse racing events in your area, or you’re attending the graduation ceremony of a top-tier university thanks to the hard work of your sibling. Maybe you work in real estate or construction and have been invited to the grand opening of a manor house.
Whatever the reason, it’s natural to feel nervous in these situations, especially if you’re not used to them. But how can you avoid the anxiety of going and stop worrying about making a fool of yourself – even if attending at the last minute? In this post, we hope to discuss all of that and more:
Have Fun Figuring Out Your Outfit
An important preparation to make before a formal event is to figure out what you’re to wear. Of course, this is simpler than packing for a longer set of events or heading overseas, because you don’t need to plan what you’ll wear each and every day and night, only what you’ll wear for one evening.
So, this means you don’t have to match what to wear in many different weather conditions. Understanding the scope of the event will also help you decide on the cut of your clothes, the colours, and any accessories you might wear. Some restrictions might apply – for example wearing white or black at someone’s wedding is generally considered a big no-no, and ‘outdoing’ the bride is also in bad taste.
Having fun figuring out your outfit can often be simplified by looking at excellent formal dresses, such as the ones linked to, and matching that with other attendees you know are going. In some cases, guidance in advice may help you choose – for instance it may be that wearing a little more corporate-friendly as opposed to enchanting is going to be appropriate for your company award’s event.
Try And Find An Itinerary
It may be that through a formal request or a friendly question, you’re able to get an itinerary ahead of time and what that may involve. This can help you better plan out your day – such as if you’ll need to bring any of your own refreshments, or how long you’ll be outside for.
Let’s say your child is graduating from basic training in the air force and is proud to invite you to their officer’s passing out parade. It doesn’t get much more formal than this, of course. It might be that ahead of time you get to see the itinerary, such as by watching the inspection, seeing when you can meet your relative, and then when you may be able to break or if refreshments will be provided.
This can help you also plan your travel plans, understand where you might go after the event, and plan for bringing anything, such as a large bag or a simple pocket back for a few essentials.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
The itinerary was the foremost example of the benefit in asking questions, but it’s true that you shouldn’t feel solely limited to that. In some cases, a question asked can get you the exact answer you need as opposed to worrying about what to do.
So let’s say that you’re attending an anniversary or a wedding. By and large you’ve been giving the chance to find your own formal dress as discussed above, but you’re not sure if this will match with the rest of the guests and if you’ll blend in. Sending an image of the dress to those planning the wedding, asking if it’s appropriate and if it fits the color scheme, may help you get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
If you’re worried about eating at a particular event due to your dietary requirements, no one will blame you for asking if vegans or those with allergies will be considered ahead of time. Any event caterer worth their salt will be able to answer these questions, and if not, then that’s pretty much confirmation that eating there is not in your best interest.
Find One Point Of Contact
As long as you know one person at the event, or have one point of contact, then you don’t have to worry about feeling overwhelmed or like a social drag. This can be a good way to introduce yourself to those in attendance and then move on from there.
Should you hang onto your friend’s arm the entire night in order to make sure you feel comfortable? Perhaps not. But it can certainly be worthwhile to ask them to meet you outside, or to give a minor tour of the event space so you don’t feel so lost. That’s the least they can do, even if they have many other things to attend to.
From here you may strike up conversations with other guests or meet the tangential connections of your friend also. When you get the conversation started, and lubricate that fellow feeling with some champagne, things become easier to deal with.
Look Into The History Of The Place
It can be nice to know where you’re going to attend the event and why the event has been called there. If it’s in a manor hall, or a beautiful hotel, or in open grounds outside, it can be nice to look up some of the photographs and history, as well as how to find it by car or public transport, so you don’t feel completely out of your comfort zone or overwhelmed with wherever you are.
Does this mean you have to recite all the facts you’ve learned to others in attendance? Of course not, but it can be nice to feel a sense of familiarity with the place and become excited to see it – this latter fact can help you overcome the nerves you weren’t expecting to feel quite so intensively.
Consider the Context Of The Event & What’s Expected From You
It’s good to consider why you’re in attendance and what may be expected from you while there. For some, it might just be that you come to support your friends, perhaps at a book publishing event. For others, it may be that this is a celebratory dinner and having a fun time as well as listening to a few speeches is more than enough.
If it’s at a particular religious event, like a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or a Christening, then you may be expected to attend a ceremony and then enjoy a celebration at a different venue after. These unique events can give you an idea of what the format of the event will be and what kind of socializing cap to keep. At any event at least, keeping your attendance of the open bar to a minimum and leaving when the time feels right, after all the main events have concluded, is wise.
With this advice, we hope you can avoid feeling too nervous even before a big, formal event.