IT’S HIGH SEASON for happily ever after—but other people’s weddings can be relationship Thunderdomes. Should you bring your significant other?

You could go alone and be the party’s bachelor du jour, sitting beside the cutest bridesmaids and dancing with the most eligible hotties, while simultaneously letting your sweetie know you consider yourself still on the market. That’s a lot of drama.

Or you could take a cover date—your sister, your cousin, your lesbian ex-lover. But if you bring a girlfriend along, be prepared: As the happy couple is pledging its love, you’ll be fighting your way through an ultra-Ninja Warrior zone loaded with razor blades and tiger sharks.

The invitation

You think: Do I want steak or fish for dinner?

She thinks: Was the invite addressed to a) You alone; b) You and a “guest”; or c) You, and the bride called to ask what your girlfriend’s name was so she could be included?

The reality: a) and b) are insults; c) is a sign you’re known to be madly in love and off the market forever. There is no d).

The wedding guests

You think: What a great time you’re having with your buddy and all the friends who knew you in your former life.

She thinks: She’s meeting the ghosts of all your girlfriends past and is on display and being judged by everyone you care about and who cares about you.

The reality: As drinks flow, so too do secrets—will you (or she) mind if she knows them? And everyone will be wondering, “Is she good enough for him?” So…is she?

The production

You think: Let’s party!

She thinks: Weddings are opportunities for critique—of friends, flowers, dresses, bridesmaids, bands, food: Those olives were so small. Not bad for a first wedding. Kirkland wine, really? The bride is totally pregnant, mark my shotgun.

The reality: Are you sure you want to see this side of her?

The ceremony

You think: How touching, she’s crying.

She thinks: When she says, “’Till death do us part”—you’ll repeat it.

The reality: Are you ready? Not just Kleenex-ready, but “diamonds that cost 2.5x your monthly pay” ready? (That’s the rule of thumb—or, more accurately, finger.)