What a miserable ordeal, fellow adventurer!
When two people fall in love, sometimes they make the mistake of getting hitched. But it's a glorious mistake, fellow adventurer! Marriage is the ultimate expression of blah blah blah and when a man and woman enter into it, blah blah blah.
But while weddings are wonderful for the bride and groom, tradition doesn't take into account the pain and agony that everyone else has to go through. The most trying ordeal for everyone is of course the dreaded reception.
The gift table, which puts a material value to your love for the bride and groom
The first step of the reception process is walking past the gift table and realizing that you brought nothing. The trick here is to glance at the table once and then rush past it in the hopes that no one will notice your lack of gifts. If you stand around looking at the tags on the gifts, everyone will know that you're thinking of stealing their gift and they will get real angry.
A line of people with inexplicably sweaty palms
Once you've managed to make your way up to the handshaking portion of the line, enjoy those first couple of handshakes with the father and sister of the bride, who you've never met. When the father of the bride asks if you and your date are married, tell him, "No." This leads to the greatest bit of awkward small talk ever exchanged: "Well, this is what you have to look forward to." Look at your date and smile awkwardly.
The happy couple, being happy
When you get to the couple, wait for the bride to realize where she knows you from (it's from several visits to the groom's home). Then give her some cryptic advice. For example: "You'll have to watch this guy!" Because apparently he's prone to running away and/or stealing things when you aren't looking.
FUN TIP: The more unsettling the cryptic advice, the more opportunity you have to plant the seed of doubt in the bride's mind. Write down some real zingers before you go.
Give the groom (your cousin) a manly hug and reference some moment from the bachelor party ("Glad you got all cleaned up!" "You too." "Only barely!" "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!!!").
Now escape the line and head straight for the cheesecake.
The single American male: A portrait of depression
A quick word to the single adventurer at the reception. Remember watching all those chick flicks
(because you are a chick or because you thought doing so would somehow make you more attractive to girls (it didn't)) where two people, complete opposites, meet at the reception of their friends? This will never happen for you.
REMEMBER: It will never ever happen.
Find solace in the fact that the cheesecake is delicious and leave once the sappy music starts playing and everyone starts cuddling up close. It will only drive you down deeper into the dark crevice of depression...
DANCING?! YES, PLEASE!
If you find yourself at a reception where dancing is a thing (because apparently that's still a thing that people do), use the excuse that you have to take pictures of the dancing to avoid actually joining in.
REMEMBER: Your date probably wants to dance, but don't give in to what they want just because it will make them happy.
The groom, dancing with someone who is not the bride (scandal)
After the band has played the sixth or seventh song, the bride's sister will inevitably have a guitar and a song (or two) in her heart. Listen to the first song (because it's courteous (and because she's actually pretty good (actually))). But once the second song starts, head for the car in the hopes that you, date in tow, won't get stopped by your relatives so that they tell you that you're next and ask when you're planning to get married to your date, who is probably far less uncomfortable than you think she is because you're projecting your own insecurities on her (wipe your forehead, you're sweating).
Conclusion: Adventure Accomplished! Also, only bring a date to a reception if you're a true adventurer who is willing to suffer through the terrible ordeal of introducing a girl to your family.
Go to, fellow adventurer!