So somehow you have found yourself eligible to attend the annual Midsingles conference – a conference held every year in Calgary for the single, more chronologically challenged individuals. The conference provides an opportunity to encourage the three Ms – Meet, Mingle, and Marry.
For those of you who have been before, you know what it is about, and this guide will probably only be an entertaining read. Maybe you’ll still learn a thing or two. For those of you who haven’t yet been, there are a few things you can do to help you prepare for the conference and to make the most of it.
First of all, I’m not an expert when it comes to this Midsingles conference stuff. (If I was, I’d probably be married by now!). Having served on the committee and been to a few of them, I do have a bit of experience in the matter. This guide is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at the Midsingles conference – what to expect, how to prepare, and how to make the most of it. It isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive guide, but a hilarious look at some of the stuff that goes on at the conference – especially for someone who hasn’t been before. Any information in this guide is subject to change and is not guaranteed to be correct. To hear it from the horse’s mouth, head on over to Midsingles.org.
What is the Midsingles conference?
Straight up, the Midsingles conference is a giant weekend long meet ‘n greet held in Calgary – usually on the first weekend in June. It’s an opportunity to meet people of a similar age who have a similar goal in mind – get married. The general age range is from 27-40 (but it isn’t strictly enforced). If you’ve made it this far in life and have still found yourself single (or have since found yourself re-singlized), it’s the place to be. Average attendance over the past few years has steadily grown into the hundreds. There have been quite a few success stories of people meeting their better halves at the conference, so it’s definitely not a waste of time – depending on how you treat it. It is important to prepare as much as possible for the conference. You might think a weekend is quite a bit of time, but before you know it the will be over. This guide will list a few things to help you make the most of it.
Make Yourself Available
Not that kind of available – the other kind. (You should already be available – the single kind if you are planning on going to the midsingles conference!). If necessary, book time off work to go to the conference. It generally starts on a Friday evening and goes to Sunday afternoon, so most people won’t have to book time off. You do need to take into account travel time though – if you are flying in, keep in mind all the rigmarole with airport security and getting to/from the airport on time. When flying out, try to book a flight later on Sunday – quite often there’s a bit of mingling after the conference officially ends, so keep that mind.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
If you haven’t been to a Midsingles conference before, it can be a pretty …interesting… experience. Remember that you are going to be chumming around other people who have the same goal in mind – marriage. To quote Elder Oaks, “It’s marriage time”!. Imagine part awkward high school dance, part Young Single Adult activity (less some of the young) and part chum-infested shark feeding frenzy. It can be pretty intense in the sense that everyone there has the same goal in mind, which can result in a bit of stress. Just keep in mind that this is an opportunity – not a deadline. Just be aware – this isn’t like the Young Single Adult activities of your glory days – this is game time.
Preparing mentally is a bit more than just knowing it can be stressful. I’ll cover more on how to prepare yourself for speed dating later on.
Prepare Yourself Physically
Have you been lacking the motivation to drop a few pounds or finally work on that six-pack? Knowing that you’ll have to be strutting your stuff in front of all the potential future spouses, you might get that bit more motivation you’ve been looking for. Whatever you decide to do (if anything), just keep in mind that you should aim to look and feel your best for the conference. Look good, smell good, feel good (internally and externally).
Prepare Yourself Spiritually
You also should prepare yourself spiritually. Heavenly Father wants the best for all his children. It’s important to listen to the promptings of the Spirit – especially with matters as important as marriage. Do whatever you need to get yourself in the best spiritual shape possible. Show Heavenly Father that this is something that you are taking seriously, and that you are willing to do what it takes.
One of the most important things someone can wear (other than modest clothing) is a smile. It does seem a bit counter-intuitive that we should be happy going to a conference for single people. There’s the kicker though – if you can’t be happy when you are single, who is to say that you’ll be happy when you are married? Do your best to be happy on your own before the conference. The conference is a great blessing to those that are able to participate in it, and knowing that we have such a great blessing should fill us with joy (unless you are on the committee. If you are on the committee, just remember – sacrifice brings blessings).
The Friday night of the conference generally consists of two activities – an ice breaker and speed dating. The purpose of both of these is to kick off the conference and everyone a chance to become acquainted (or reacquainted).
Dress isn’t quite casual, but isn’t formal. Be comfortable, but don’t dress sloppy. The stone-washed, shredded jeans of your glory years should probably be left at home. Same with sweats and lululemon yoga pants. You’ll want to be comfortable, but not that comfortable. Personally, I wear a button-up shirt, a decent looking pair of jeans, and some dress shoes for the bulk of Friday and Saturday.
In past years, people have been asked to bring desserts or fruits/veggies depending on their last name. Check out the details on the Midsingles website to see if you are supposed to bring anything. Part of the goodies will be served Friday night and the rest later on in the weekend.
OK, I lied – there might actually be three parts to Friday night. In times past there has been a pre-conference mixer before the ice-breaker and speed dating. This consists of groups of people meeting up at restaurants before the conference. Getting things arranged for this hasn’t worked so well in the past, so it may or may not be done. The Midsingles.org website will usually have the details if there is one.
Signing In/Ice Breaker
When you first arrive, you’ll likely be asked to sign in. If you’ve registered before the conference (which the committee hopes you have), they’ll check you off a list. Grab your name tag, and pick up whatever piece of paper you might need for the ice breaker, and head on into the gym. If you haven’t registered, they will write down your name. Go make yourself a name tag and any necessary paper for the ice breaker, then head into the gym.
The ice breaker usually involves finding people that match a particular criteria. In past years, this has been done with a bingo-style sheet, or with puzzle pieces that require people to find each other (in groups). It’s usually something pretty simple, but it does provide a totally non-pressured way of introducing yourself to other people. You might be tempted to just stand there and chat with your friends – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but remember that time does go quickly. Before you know it, the speed dating will start…
If you’ve never seen speed dating before, you are in for a treat. If you’ve seen it before, you’re still likely in for a treat. If all goes well, you’ll have wonderful stories to tell your children. If things don’t go so well… well, you’ll still have stories to tell your children.
The purpose of the speed dating is to really crank the mingling up a notch or three. It provides an opportunity for almost everyone at the conference to meet everyone else. For those sciencey-mathy types: If drawn out, it would show a near perfect Kf,m (bipartite) graph, where f is the number of females and m is the number of males. For the non-sciencey-mathy types: You’ll meet lots of people. Lots and lots of people. Chances are, by the end of the speed dating you’ll have no voice. Ladies: just remember – the little mermaid didn’t have a voice by the end, yet things still worked out for her.
Just prior to the speed dating starting, the committee will herd everyone into the gym and separate them – guys on one side, girls on the other. All the girls will be led off to various rooms throughout the church and then the guys will be separated into groups and sent off to the various rooms. There’s usually a 2:1 ratio of girls to guys, so guys, the odds are in your favour. Every two minutes or so, the guys are asked to move one seat over. When they ask you to move, please move. Nobody likes a traffic jam, and as much as you’d like to stay there chatting with that cute blond, there’s plenty of other time during the conference to do that. Don’t be a hog.
Now you may have noticed on your name tag is a number. That number is important. During the speed dating process, you’ll be given a piece of paper and a pencil. At the top of your paper, put your name. As you start speed-dating, if someone suits your fancy, look at their number and write it down. After the conference, all the pieces of paper are gone through and if there are mutual interests both parties are notified. If you are shy/reserved/socially awkward, this is a really discreet way to find out if there is a mutual interest. There are a few things to keep in mind here:
- Don’t write down someone’s number right in front of them. That’s kind of obvious. If you are going to be that bold, you might as well just ask them on a date right then and there.
- Things move pretty quickly, so try to keep on it. If want to write down someone’s number, write it down right after you’ve finished talking to them. Ladies: When the guys are shuffling seats, it’s the perfect opportunity to write down numbers. Guys: Well, you’ll figure it out.
- Ladies: Be careful where you put your name tags. If your hair is covering your number, it is going to make it difficult for someone to write it down. Also, please place your name tags in an appropriate place. As much as you might want guys staring at your bosoms, it does make it a big awkward for the guys.
- Guys: If you don’t get someone’s number down, that’s ok – you can always talk to them later on. Just do your best to keep up with it all.
- Mutual interests aren’t paired up until after the conference, so don’t rely on it to find out of something is mutual during the conference itself.
- Ladies, chances are you’ll run into some… interesting… characters during speed dating. Remember, you only have to converse with them for two minutes.
Like all other times during the conference, try to look happy. Smile. Also, don’t be afraid to approach and talk to people that you haven’t met before.
During speed dating, chances are you’ll be
grilled alive asked a lot of questions. Think of this as your chance to tell a bit about yourself. Although the questions may be clear, what the other person is asking may not be. Here’s a few sample questions you might be asked (or might ask) during the speed dating:
For the Guys
What she asks: So what do you do?
What she really means: Do you have a decent job, and are you capable of supporting me (and potential offspring)?
How you might answer: If you’ve got a good job, tell her. If you’ve got a job but don’t like it, answer something like “I currently do ___, but my dream job is ___. I’m doing ___ to make that happen.”. If you don’t have a job, you might respond “I’m between jobs right now, but I’ve done ___ in the past and I’m looking for a job doing ___.” If you are in school, let her know and tell her why you chose that particular field.
(Just as a side story, I once had a roommate who was self-employed. He wasn’t sure how to market himself, but found greater success once he started using terms like ‘entrepreneur’ rather than ‘unemployed’. It’s all a matter of perspective.)
What she asks: So where are you from?
What she really means: Where are you from?
How you might answer: Tell her where you are from. If you’ve lived abroad, you might want to mention that as well.
What she asks: So what do you do for fun?
What she really means: You aren’t one of those guys that sits around all day playing video games, are you?
How you might answer: Tell her a little bit about your hobbies. Try to avoid telling her about your belly button lint collection or your fascination with ant farms. If you are a gamer, try saying something like “I do play games on occasion, but I also like to ___” (assuming you do actually do things other than play video games). Show that you are the well-rounded, educated, yet suave and sophisticated stallion that you think you are.
What she asks: You look familiar. Have we met before?
What she really means: Have we met before?
How you might answer: She thinks you look familiar. If you have met before, and you remember her, let her know (in a non-creepy sort of way. Good: “I think we met at ___”. Bad: “You threw out a kleenex last midsingles conference last year and I kept it, pressed it, and added it to my shrine of you.”). If she doesn’t seem familiar, maybe she is just trying to break the ice. Introduce yourself, if you haven’t already.
For the Ladies
What he asks: So what keeps you busy?
What he really means: While you are waiting for Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet, what are you doing? Are you going to school? Working? Busy braiding your hair to lower yourself down so you can steal away to a midsingles conference?
How you might answer: Tell him what you do. If you are sitting around waiting for your prince charming, you might want to say something like “I’m currently taking a break from things for a little while, but I was doing ___ and I’m going to be doing ___.”
What he asks: Would you like to go on a date?
What he really means: Would you like to go on a date?
How you might answer: That depends – if you want to go on a date, but can’t because of other commitments, say something like “I’d like to but ____. Perhaps another time?” if you don’t want to go on a date, turn him down nicely. (To be completely honest, I’ve yet to ever hear such a question asked during speed dating, so you are probably safe).
What he asks: What do you do for fun?
What he really means: When you aren’t waiting for Prince Charming, what do you do for fun?
How you might answer: Tell him about the things you enjoy doing – especially if it involves cooking, travelling, or bacon.
Other Speed Dating Tips
There are a few other things that are good to know with regards to speed dating. Grab a bottle of water, and keep it with you. You’ll quite possibly start losing your voice by the end of the night if you don’t. Also, don’t get too crazy with the questions.
For the sake of everyone, here are a few examples of good and bad questions:
- What do you like to do for fun?
- If you could go on a holiday anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- If you had to pick up a new hobby, what would it be?
- What are your hobbies?
- What is your favourite kind of food?
- Will you be the father of my children?
- What is your favourite pokemon?
- How many children do you want?
- If you were a deciduous tree, what kind of tree would you be?
- What do you want the wedding colors to be?
- What is your highest score in Guitar Hero?
Remember, the purpose of speed dating is to quickly get to know other people, or at least get introduced so that if you approach someone later on, you have at least become acquainted. If someone catches your eye, great. If not, don’t worry – there is still plenty of time to meet more people. Also, do your best at remembering names – even just a handful of them. (I’m personally terrible at this, so feel free to call me out on it. Also feel free to introduce yourself to me some time during the conference).
Another Friday Night Tip: Try your best to go to bed at a decent hour. It might be difficult because you’ll want to stay up late hanging out with friends, but the last thing you’ll want to do is start off the weekend being dead tired.
So, somehow you managed to survive Friday night, and you’re still wanting more. That’s a good thing – Saturday is right chock-full of more Midsingles conference goodness.
Top Tip: If you haven’t picked up a conference program/outline, grab one. It’ll have details of when and where things are, and if you don’t use it Saturday, you’ll likely use it Sunday trying to find the Midsingles sacrament meeting, where ever it is held.
In years past, there has been a selection of breakfast-type foods – pastries, muffins, bagels, etc. for Saturday morning breakfast. Before you count on this, you might want to double check on the conference website, if you haven’t already checked it out. If there is breakfast, it’ll be fairly early, so hopefully you didn’t stay out all night partying it up.
Saturday morning consists of a series of workshops on various topics held in various rooms. The workshops are conducted by individuals selected by the midsingles conference committee. Topics may include anything from dressing fashionably to goal setting to how to travel on a budget. As tempting as it may be to skip the workshops, please go. They are often quite informative, and if not informative, entertaining.
Saturday Afternoon Activity
During the morning, there will be a list of sign up sheets posted in the gym for the afternoon activity. Activities range from going on a hike, visiting the Calgary Zoo, to checking out a farmer’s market. The activities are at your own expense, and you’ll need to get yourself to/from wherever the activity is.
Just a side note/personal opinion: Try to pick an activity that more than one person is going to (unless you want to hang out with just that one person… in that case, go for it!). The one year I ended up going on a hike with one other person. It was enjoyable, but it probably would have been more enjoyable to get to know several people. Try to make the afternoon count as much as possible – the groups are generally smaller so it is a great opportunity to get to know a few select people.
Saturday Evening Dinner and Dance
Saturday evening is dinner and a dance. Check the schedule on the conference website for the exact time of dinner. The committee members don’t particularly like it if you show up extra early, unless you are there to help out.
Awesome Tip: Try to sit at a table where either A) you don’t know anyone or B) there is someone sitting there that you want to get to know better. Dinner is yet another good way to get to know more people that you may not have had a chance to get to know.
(Also, guys, see if you can top my personal record: me and a table of eight women. I have no idea how I managed that!)
In past years there has been a small program between dinner and the dance. This may depend on the specific schedule or what the committee has planned.
After dinner is the dance. This might be the highlight of the weekend for some of you. For others (myself, included) – not so much. At the very least, it’ll give you an opportunity to rock out to the music of your younger years. Everyone else there is of a similar vintage, so there won’t be so much of that ‘Justin Beaver’ or ‘Miley Citrus’ or whatever stuff the kids are listening to these days, unless of course you request it.
Sunday morning is a Sunday meeting, usually held at one of the lecture halls at the University of Calgary. If you didn’t grab a conference outline yesterday, you might have a fun time trying to find it (you might be lucky enough to find the info on the conference website. Notice a trend here?). If you did grab a conference outline – good for you. Proceed to the meeting. Also keep in mind that you’ll likely have to pay for parking at the university, or if you are sneaky, you can park in the Bow Valley Stake Center parking lot and walk to where the meeting will be held.
Try to get to the meeting in decent time. Seating is often limited, so if you get there nice and early you can get a prime seat. You will also gain a little pre-sacrament meeting mingle time if you get there in good time.
The first part of the meeting is a giant sacrament meeting, with speakers selected from the group of midsingles. (Don’t worry – they don’t call people at random – the speakers are arranged beforehand. If you haven’t been asked to speak, you can give a sigh of relief. If you have been asked, well good luck!).
The second part of the meeting is a giant combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting.
Both Sunday meetings can be quite enjoyable.
If you still haven’t had your fill of meeting or mingling, people often to a nearby park for a bag lunch (provided by yourself). It can be one last chances to chat it up with people before they head home. I personally recommend going.
The conference might be over, but there is still something you should do. If you haven’t given thanks to both the committee members and Heavenly Father, do so. By this point hopefully you have realized what a blessing the conference is (or you have been scared straight into getting married ASAP). Be sure to express your gratitude for what a wonderful opportunity it has been.
Follow Up! Follow Up! Follow Up!
So, are you done yet? Nope. If you haven’t done this already, do it now: Follow up! Follow up! Follow up! You know all those people you met at the conference? They are still out there. If you’ve collected any phone numbers, email addresses, or Facebook contacts over the course of the conference, follow up on things – see how they are doing and ask them on dates.
From personal experience, I can say that this is a critical step, and by doing so I was able to rustle up a few dates by following up with people I had met at the conference – all of which have been enjoyable.
So somehow you’ve made it to the end. Well, not that end – the end of Joel’s Guide to the Midsingles Conference (you might be old, but you aren’t that old!)*. Hopefully you’ve learned something, and are looking forward to this year’s conference – and with a bit of luck you won’t be at it next year.
Just remember that whatever happens, happens. If you’ve gone to the conference and given it your all, and you’ve done all you can do then you have nothing to worry about. Single or not, men and women “are that they might have joy”. Things always have a way of working out in the end. If they haven’t worked out, then it isn’t the end.
*I hear marriage is a lot like death – it’s not over, it’s just different.