NEW YORK – This summer, hide your bridesmaids.
So warns the promo for this weekend's new movie, "Wedding Crashers" (search), which is about a couple of bachelors who show up at weddings uninvited to prey on lonely bridesmaids and especially desperate female guests.
The movie cashes in on two common stereotypes about weddings: that women hate attending nuptials alone, and that men, realizing how vulnerable weddings make single women feel, use the occasions to their advantage.
But how are true are these generalizations?
Very, according to experts.
"Women have so much trouble admitting they are single [that] they will bring anyone to a wedding," said dating consultant David Wygant (search). "They hate to answer this question at a wedding: ''Why is a nice girl like you still single?'
"So to avoid the embarrassment, they end up going with a guy they do not like and hoping to hook up with the hot out-of-town friend they met at the rehearsal dinner," Wygant added.
On the flip side, men aren't likely to bring a guest to a wedding unless they are very serious about someone, both out of fear of sending the wrong message to a starry-eyed date and also to make the most of the opportunity.
"As for the guys," Wygant explained, "we know how vulnerable woman get at a wedding, and why bring food to an all-you-can-eat buffet?"
Wygant even suggests a ready-made pick-up line: '"Hey, weddings make me realize how much I miss being in a relationship.' That gets them every time."
"The Wedding Date," (search) which came out in February and starred Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney, focused on the other side of the equation.
Messing's character is so desperate to bring a date to her stepsister's wedding that she breaks into her 401(k) and uses the money to hire a dashingly handsome escort. Of course, they wind up falling in love.
But what about the traditional idea of finding true love at the reception?
"What I've found in this day and age is that it's not at all" a good place to meet someone, said Jonathon Satriale, a 33-year-old Boston resident. "The folks getting married have their primary goal, and it's not so much the fixing up of their friends or thinking about whether two people would be good together."
New York City resident Erika Freed, 26, often attends weddings with her best male friend, Al. That way, they both have the chance to meet someone else, but are also guaranteed a good time.
Even when Al is seeing someone else, he'll bring Freed as his no-strings-attached date.
"If ladies see you dancing with an attractive woman, your value goes up," said Al, who declined to give his last name, of this strategy. "If a woman comes up to you, in the first sentence or two you just say you're with your best friend."
Freed seconds that notion. But for an upcoming wedding — which her first love, Tom, plans to attend with his fiancée (the woman he dumped Freed for), nothing less than the perfect escort will do.
"First: I have to look amazing. I will be tan, fit, healthy," said Freed. "Number two: I don't want to look like a nutcase single girl. And three: my date has to be better than Tom."
"Al's not good enough for this one," she added, jokingly admitting that she is almost at the point where she would hire someone à la "The Wedding Date."
Still, there are exceptions to every rule, and some women actually prefer going to weddings alone even if they are in a relationship.
Halle Petro, 26, an aspiring actress and singer who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., said she deliberately didn't invite her boyfriend (now ex) to a wedding because she had her eye on someone else who was going.
"I disinvited my boyfriend to a wedding because there was another guy at the wedding that I didn't want to know I had a boyfriend," she said.
While movies like "Wedding Crashers" suggest that men prefer to attend weddings stag — "for the easy prey," as Wygant put it — some men say it's not always a sure thing.
In fact, it's more often than not a total bust.
"I've gone with stag guys to weddings," said Satriale, an attractive single who is generally successful on the pick-up scene. "You basically end up sitting together and hanging out. I've never picked anyone up."
Even Al, with his timeworn strategy, admits weddings haven't delivered on their promise.
"The whole 'get some' aspect of a wedding has always eluded me," he said.
Still, there's no question that attending weddings as a single is far more loaded for women.
Dorothy Robinson, the editor of Metro New York's dating page, said in contrast to Wygant's buffet analogy, attending a wedding is like dangling a carrot at single-and-searching gals.
"The problem with going to a wedding alone, as I see it, is it's kinda like making someone who is suffering from severe malnutrition go to a Sizzler and not letting them eat," she said. "Weddings are a flashy, neon sign showing the single everything they don't have: love, companionship, trust, and the guarantee (with the consent of both parties, of course) that you are going to have a baby."
Some single women are so desperate for moral support at a wedding, they even invite female friends to go with them.
But most men would say they would never consider bringing a male date, other than a relative, to an "I Do" ceremony for fear that their sexual preference might be called into question.
"When going to a family wedding event, being old enough to be subject to numerous probing questions as to why you're not married, you must find a woman you can trust and is totally attractive," said Al, who's 41. "It gets people off your back and communicates that you're not gay."
According to James Bassil, the lifestyle editor at Askmen.com, it's the gulf between how men and women view commitment that movies like "Wedding Crashers" and "The Wedding Date" are playing into.
"I don't want to use the old cliché that men want to be the eternal bachelor, and women fear being the old maid, but weddings are so suggestive, you can't help but think about yourself, and women are more inclined to do so than men," said Bassil.
Blame that on the primordial single gal — Mother Nature.
"Weddings are still something [women] think about," said Robinson. "We can't help it. It's wired into our DNA!"