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Woman, 33, who attends STRANGERS’ weddings as a ‘seat filler’ reveals what it’s really like – and what she says when unsuspecting guests asks how she knows the bride and groom


A woman who attends strangers’ weddings as a seat filler has revealed what it is really like – as she insists she has made tons of new friends and always brings a gift.

Joanna Smykowski, a 33-year-old New York City-based attorney, joined several bride-to-be Facebook groups while planning her own September 2021 wedding.

One day, she came across a post by a bride asking if anyone could attend her wedding to help meet the minimum head count the venue required.

Otherwise, seats and meals would go to waste since the bride and groom had to pay for the spares either way, Joanna explained in a Business Insider essay.

Joanna Smykowski, a New York City-based attorney, has made a habit of volunteering to attend strangers' weddings whenever brides and grooms have been in need of extra guests

Joanna Smykowski, a New York City-based attorney, has made a habit of volunteering to attend strangers’ weddings whenever brides and grooms have been in need of extra guests

Joanna (pictured far right) first discovered that some brides needed extra guests to attend their wedding through a bride-to-be Facebook group

Joanna (pictured far right) first discovered that some brides needed extra guests to attend their wedding through a bride-to-be Facebook group

‘Luckily for the bride who reached out for help on Facebook, I love everything about weddings,’ wrote Joanna.

‘I jump at the chance to celebrate love, dance, and get dressed up for a night out. Attending someone’s wedding is my idea of the perfect evening.’

She talked over the idea with her then-fiancé, and he agreed to go for it. 

The couple then drove an hour to attend the strangers’ wedding, also booking a hotel nearby to make an overnight occasion out of the expedition. 

‘The dress code was formal attire, which was even more exciting because I love having a reason to wear a floor-length gown,’ gushed Joanna.

The pair were invited to the cocktail hour and reception, and Joanna was pleasantly surprised to discover that their whole table had come to the wedding under similar circumstances – none personally knew the bride and groom. 

Among the guests, one couple was going to be married at the venue in the future and another had just tied the knot there a few months back, but had been so busy they hadn’t even tried the food.

‘Above all, everyone just wanted a fun night out,’ Joanna wrote.

The first experience she (far left) had had at a stranger's wedding went so well that Joanna decided to seek out similar opportunities

The first experience she (far left) had had at a stranger’s wedding went so well that Joanna decided to seek out similar opportunities

Joanna has since attended four more strangers' weddings, claiming 'the joy that surrounds weddings energizes me'

Joanna has since attended four more strangers’ weddings, claiming ‘the joy that surrounds weddings energizes me’

She went on to describe that the group became ‘fast friends’ before dancing the night away together. 

‘There was something freeing about not knowing anyone in the room but coming together for such a heartwarming event,’ she admitted.

From there, Joanna joined a Facebook group dubbed, ‘sisterhood of the traveling wedding guest, bridesmaid or surrogate mom’ – specifically to connect those lacking friends, bridesmaids and even mother figures to those willing to play the part for the bride-in-question’s big day.

She has since gone to four more weddings, both with her now-husband and sometimes with a friend as her plus one.

‘If anyone asks how we know the happy couple, we always say through the bride. I leave out the part about meeting her for the very first time at her wedding,’ explained Joanna. 

‘I never know (and don’t ask) if the bride has told her family and friends that they invited people they’ve never met,’ she emphasized.

Joanna also says that, even though she is not expected to, she always brings a gift for the newlyweds.

Overall, she insists that the ‘joy that surrounds weddings energizes me,’ and she hopes to continue consensually crashing weddings for ‘many years to come.’

‘Plus, I’ll never say no to celebrating love, dancing the night away, and having a great night out,’ she concluded. 



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