The Bridesmaid’s Survival Guide
By Jennifer E. Jones
“Will you be my bridesmaid?”
It’s the five words that can hang on the hinge of an entire relationship. Whether she’s your best friend or a co-worker you barely know, she’s asking you with sincerity in her eyes, and she’s expecting an answer… soon.
I know you’re tired of being the co-star in yet another friend’s wedding. Believe you me. I'm growing my own collection of dyed satin shoes and awkwardly plain formal gowns I'll never wear again. But even I know that weddings are important celebrations, and the role of a bridesmaid should not be taken lightly.
You can do this, and I’m going to coach you through.
You Can Say No
This was a novel concept to me up until a year ago. I always thought it was something I had to do. After all, she’ll be crushed if I say no, won’t she?
Maybe. As I said before, the role of a bridesmaid is important enough to know ahead of time whether you feel qualified enough to take it on.
Let’s make this easy. You can safely decline without guilt under the following circumstances:
- The wedding is in another state.
- The bride is not someone you know well (if you can’t call her up “just to chat,” you’re not close enough to be a bridesmaid).
- You have commitments to work and/or family that will constantly take you away from your bridesmaid duties.
- You cannot afford the bridesmaid regalia (dress, shoes, the visit to the salon, etc.)
Now, there are some scenarios that are unavoidable. It’s up to you but I’d consider the following as situations that dictate an automatic “yes”:
- The bride or groom is immediate family.
- You’re a best friend, close friend, or a friend who had a hand in bringing the couple together.
- The only excuse you can come up with is: you hate formal events, and you haven’t worn a dress since your christening.
Imagine what it’s like to plan an event for several hundred people that is both a party for friends and a family reunion. You have to invite your boss and that crazy uncle who always asks people to pull his finger. You’re up to your ears in catering menus while dodging phone calls from your second cousin who wants to know why little Lucie can't be a flower girl.
You’d go crazy too.
Being a bride is a stressful, draining, and often thankless job in which you must keep a few dozen people happy. You have to be the producer, director, wardrobe stylist, executive chef, and the star of your own show. It’s more than one woman can bear, and that’s when a bridesmaid comes in.
You can keep the bride from losing her head. Make her laugh. Take her out to lunch when her mother-in-law is getting a bit too particular about the floral arrangements. Help her delegate responsibilities, and be there for her when she just wants to cry. Everybody needs a friend when the weight of the world gets heavy. This is how you support your bride.
Don’t Add to the Burden
As mentioned before, a bride has a lot of people pulling on her and asking for special treatment. She doesn’t need it from her main girls. So if you hate your bridesmaid dress or lament being paired with the short hairy groomsmen, keep it to yourself. Complaining to the bride will only add to her stress, and that’s not what you’re there for.
Remember, you signed up for this job and the discomforts that come along with it. So when she hands you the sea-foam green dress with puffy sleeves and bows in the back, smile and tell her it’s beautiful.
Lean on Me… The Bridesmaids’ Creedo
There’s more than one bridesmaid for a reason. You’re not standing up there alone. You’ve got two to five other ladies who are probably feeling the same way you are.
Lean on each other. Get together and air out your frustrations. If you can, fix any problems amongst yourselves without hassling the bride.
You can trade war stories about the weddings you’ve been in. You can also encourage each other in your own love travels. This is a network of women who are going through the same experience as you and the closer you get, the more support you can be for your bride and one another.
Plan a Bangin’ Bachlorette Party
Being a bridesmaid has a few perks, and one is attending the bachelorette party. You can really pull together something fun for everyone and honor your leading lady at the same time.
Throw the ultimate slumber party with dangerously fatty foods and ‘80s flicks like Sixteen Candles. Spend an ungodly amount of time at the spa. Laugh the night away at a comedy club.
You don’t have to shut yourselves up indoors. Go hiking or to a theme park. Take in a scuba diving class or rent a beach house for the weekend.
This is the last time your favorite girl is going to be single so live it up and make some memories.
It’s Not About You
Weddings tend to conjure up personal feelings about love. If Cupid’s been cruel to you, it will come out. Maybe you’re sick of seeing one more friend walk down the aisle ahead of you. Maybe you’re stuck with a commitment-phobic guy who won’t even attend a wedding with you -- let alone marry you. Or maybe your own wedding was a quickie, justice-of-the-peace deal, and you realize you’ll never get that big church wedding of your dreams. Any way you slice it, this wedding can make you hurt deeply on the inside.
Remember that this wedding is not about you. It’s tough to hear but it’s a point that is very necessary to grasp. This wedding is a celebration of the love between two people. If neither of them is you, then you need to get over it.
Be there for your friend and listen to her tell the story of how they met for the 80th time. Sometimes friendship means sacrifice, and your pride is the first thing you need to swallow.
I have a box full of bridesmaid dresses that range from emerald green to dead of night black. However, I also have a box full of precious memories. I’ve witnessed girls who thought they’d never get married finally find true love. I’ve seen my brother, who almost never cries, let the tears stream down his face as he saw his bride for the first time walk down aisle. Every moment was beyond priceless.
From a bridesmaid’s point of view, I know that weddings can be a frustrating ordeal, but it can also be your chance to be part of something great. So enjoy her special day. Share in the joy of love, get all dolled up, and dance until your feet are sore. It isn't asking too much, is it?
Jennifer E. Jones is the Media Center / CBNmusic Producer who probably will not see the new Katherine Heigl movie, 27 Dresses, but can certainly empathize with her character. Read her bio.
Got comments? Drop me a line.
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