After Reading Jen Doll's 'Save the Date,' You'll Never Look at a Wedding The Same Way Again

At a certain point in nearly every twentysomething’s life, freewheeling weekend plans morph from drunken late nights to meticulously planned wedding wastelands fraught with emotional and financial repercussions. It's a special hell — erm, transition — and in Save The Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest (Riverhead), Jen Doll reminisces about the many — literally dozens — of weddings she’s attended throughout her life, each complete with both their own charms and total disasters. (You don't have to have attended a single wedding to come along for the ride.)

Reading Save the Date feels a bit like chatting with a dear friend — but Doll’s confessional, conversational manner of writing is by no means flimsy or throwaway. Despite her very funny subject matter, Doll doesn’t balk at exploring the deeper emotions and philosophies that go into both wedding-throwing and party attendance. The book is laced through with thought-provoking musings and mediations on the purpose of both weddings and marriages, what they can and cannot do, and what they do and do not mean. Doll doesn’t even back down from wondering about the possibility — emphasis on possibility — of her own future wedding, though she never approaches the tough stuff with any measure of self-pity or overindulgence, and she remains remarkably clear-eyed throughout the entire book.

That’s a tall order, too, because Doll’s memoir is rife with some cringeworthy stuff, and her ability to make even her most drunken mistakes (hooking up with a former college nemesis is up there as one of the worst, only matched later when she throws a fit while attending a wedding with a guy she’s only recently started dating) feel understandable and sympathetic is a no easy feat.

Doll’s more emotion-driven tales help balance the embarrassing amusements, especially a long stretch that chronicles the dismantling of a dear friendship, partially thanks to her friend’s wedding (or, more accurately, her friend’s choice of husband). Along the way, Doll cycles through other big, non-wedding related changes, both professionally and personally, adding weight and context to her experiences at what should be universally happy days.

Save the Date is the kind of amusing and inventive memoir that’s almost impossible to put down and ripe for sharing amongst friends (bring this baby to your next girls’ brunch and watch your lady friends clamor to be the first to borrow it). It’s breezy and quick and dead funny, but it also aims straight for the heart with the kind of wit and honesty anyone would want to cherish for many years to come.