Maya Erskine’s Guide to Being a Wedding Plus One

The Plus One star gives her do’s and don’ts for being the perfect wedding guest.


Almost everyone will experience that inevitable year in which they are invited to a seemingly endless number of weddings, back to back. It’s a manageable situation, however, if you have a good plus one on your arm, or at least that’s the premise of Plus One, Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer’s rom-com re-telling of a very real year in which they both had a record number of weddings to attend, and came out on the other side unscathed.

In Plus One, Pen15 star Maya Erskine plays Alice, a cynical wedding guest in the midst of a breakup. She sets a plan involving her friend Ben (played by Jack Quaid, son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan) in motion, where she insists that they should be each other’s wedding plus ones to get through what she believes to be one of the roughest years of their lives.

You may have noticed it is officially wedding season, and you might even have a few questions. Attending a wedding as a plus one can be fun, especially if you know the couple getting hitched, but what about those occasions where you don’t really know anyone at all? What if you’re showing up to the wedding with your own romance in mind? And how do you decide on an outfit that is both chic but also won’t leave you too sweaty on the dance floor? Erskine has an answer for all of that.

What was it like to have a movie premiere at Tribeca Film Festival for the first time?

It was incredibly exciting and I went to NYU with a lot of the people who made the film. So, being there with the whole cast and all of our friends, really, felt like this nice homecoming back in New York. To be able to celebrate a film at a film festival that you’d heard of since going to school there, it was a dream. I think it didn’t hit me until the night of the premiere. I felt so anxious leading up to it, but then once I was there I got really emotional because I had never really envisioned that happening. It was kind of like a dream come true.

Have you had a year like Alice, where you’ve had to attend a bunch of weddings back to back?

I mean, it’s funny because when I made the film I hadn’t really experienced that barrage of weddings. I had been to one or two. It was kind of like I was experiencing weddings for the first time through this movie, because it goes through such a wide range of them. I learned about the toast and the duties of groomsmen and maids of honor. I was just blown away by the spectacle. It’s really a show, you know? There are so many working parts to it and so much money behind it, or it can be really shitty and I felt like I was a plus one in the movie because even though they were fake weddings I was getting to be a guest at all of these weddings and getting to be drunk at some of these weddings.

You actually drank in those scenes?

[Laughs.] I didn’t actually get drunk, that would have been fun. I have Asian glow so that would have showed up as red on the screen so I didn’t actually drink, but getting to play into that and not being too concerned about what my friends would think of me because I was just kind of a wandering guest at these weddings, and I was behind my character. It was pretty liberating and made me want to go to more weddings.

Do you like weddings?

I feel like I have adopted some of Alice’s views on weddings in terms of the gift giving and all the money that you spend going to them. I can’t imagine what Jeff [Chan] and Andrew [Rhymer] have been through because they did have a summer where it was 12 to 15 weddings or something. To feel the pressure to go to all of them, that is a lot.

What’s the best wedding you’ve ever attended?

The best wedding is one of my close friends, Jessy Hodges. It was in up north California. They did it right. Beautiful accommodations, not huge, I knew a lot of people so I could enjoy myself, and the vows were so honest and so funny. That was a wedding that made me believe in marriage, which I didn’t really believe in it but it made me excited to have it. Other weddings I’ve been to, I’ve just kind of been like, “Uh, I would not do it like this.” But that inspired me to want to have those kinds of things to say about someone. They didn’t try to present their relationship in a way that seemed perfect, it was flawed and authentic and that made it incredibly relatable and achievable, I guess.

Have you ever had to give a wedding toast? What’s the secret to giving a good speech?

Oh, god, no. I would fail. I would fail miserably. Because I get so much anxiety about public speaking anyway, even though I’m an actor. I can be behind a character, that’s one thing, but talking as just Maya? No, I would freak out. What I love about Alice in the movie is that she is the authority on how to give the best wedding toast and when it comes to her own, she falls flat on her face and no one laughs. I think wedding toasts are very unnatural, so to have to express in two minutes or however long you’re supposed to take, why this couple should be together when you might not even think they should, it’s an odd charade.

How do you ask someone to be your wedding date?

If you’re in a relationship, that’s easy. If you’re not, which I’ve been in that situation…he was invited and he’s my good friend, and I asked him to be a plus one. I said, “I want to go to that wedding, so can I please come?” He didn’t ask me. I invited myself and I had a great time!

How do you navigate being a guest at a wedding where you don’t really know anyone?

If you’re a plus one and you don’t know anyone besides the person you’re coming with? I think that is maybe the best situation because you’re not gonna get stuck in some conversation with, you know, a family member that you’ve met a couple times. You’re going to be able to be anyone you want. It’s kind of like Wedding Crashers, minus the just trying to have sex with people part. You would just be able to put on any identity in a way, and have fun, and not worry about what people think of you. There’s a fine line, you don’t want to get wasted and cause havoc that ruins the wedding. But there’s more freedom when you don’t have any duties.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen go down at a wedding?

One of my friends gets really excited on the dance floor, and was dancing with the mother of the groom. She’s up there in her age and probably shouldn’t be lifted, and he just lifted her from her calves up into the air and was bouncing her around. We all got incredibly scared because he almost dropped her. That was a moment where I was like, you’re taking it too far! [Laughs.]

What’s one thing you should never do as a wedding guest?

If you’re officiating—like that’s a trend where they’re having a friend officiate or even if you’re making a toast—when you make it about yourself and start to make it a therapy session, don’t do that! Just talk about the couple. This isn’t your time to shine. I think that’s a cardinal sin, when someone makes it about themselves and where they’re at emotionally. [Laughs.] I’ve seen that a lot.

What if you want to find romance at a wedding with another guest? What are the rules for navigating that situation?

Oh, god. I’m so bad at initiating conversation. I’m single right now, so this is a good question and I need a good answer for this. You need a good wingman, that’s what you need. If that’s your date, they should do that for you if you’re friends. But if there’s a weirdness between you two, like you have past history and want to move on to someone else, on the dance floor, I think. You just sort of scoot up to the person, start dancing with them and be like, “Do you want to get a drink? I’m getting so hot from this.” [Laughs.] That’s probably what I would do. It doesn’t work at dinner. Dinner’s awkward, you’re sitting at the table where the guy that you’re interested is not sitting, and you’ve gotta make sure you’re eyeing each other.

What’s the best outfit to wear to a wedding as a guest?

A lot of those clothes in the film were from my closet, but I think it has to be really comfortable, like a dress. I thought I would be a suit person, but you get really hot in a suit. That’s not the right thing to wear. It’s gotta be a flowy dress. I love the pink sequined dress that I wore in the film because it was so comfortable and felt sexy and silky. Something you can dance in where your boob won’t pop out and you ruin the wedding.

What’s the best music to hear at a wedding reception?

My dad is a jazz drummer so I grew up listening to a lot of the standards. That’s always had a place in my heart. I always like hearing a really good jazz band in the beginning. Some soul music is great, and then hip hop. ’90s tunes. That’s always fun to dance to by the end.

Where do you stand on requesting songs from the DJ?

I’ve tried and I always get ignored! I always try! Everywhere I go. And they hate me. [Laughs.] So I am clearly doing it incorrectly, like, “You gotta play ‘Love on Top’ by Beyoncé!’ and they’re like, ‘Uh huh.’ Sometimes they’ll play it six songs later.

Related: PEN15 Creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle Are Unfazed By Their First AIM Screen Names