Written By :: Jenn Taylor
Photos :: Barnett Photography
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride – this is a saying i’m used to hearing. By the end of this summer i will have been a bridesmaid 7 times. I’m honored each time i’ve been asked, shed some tears of joy and to be honest, a few tears of sadness as i lose my stand up paddleboard budget…again. If you’re a first time bridesmaid, you may be surprised to find out that there is more to putting on your matching attire and waltzing down the isle. Typically you’ll be helping with pre-wedding events and dishing out funds.
You get to take part in some of the most important moments in your friends’ life. The moment they first tell you they’re engaged- that’s one of my favorites. The joy in their eyes and happiness is a moment I wish I could capture and carry around in my back pocket for a rainy day. Overall your job is to help her through the stressful, potentially bridezilla-worthy moments, and help her realize that the ultimate reason she’s planning a wedding is for her marriage.
If you don’t think you can fulfill your duties as a bridesmaid whether it be financially, work obligations or no spare time you have to be upfront with her from the start. There is nothing worse than a bride who can’t rely on her girls when she needs them. If you’re being asked to be a bridesmaid, it’s a question that you can answer as you see fit for you as it’s far worse to accept and not come through.
Be ready to tap into your inner Martha Stewart as you (with the help of Pinterest) come up with color combinations, décor ideas, floral options, etc. Coming up with budget savvy ways to create the overall look and feel of the wedding requires you to think outside the box and get to work. You may spend a weekend tying little bows on favors, gluing ribbon on centerpieces or sorting through candy to find the right colors.
Finding her perfect dress will be a breeze compared to picking the bridesmaid dresses. You should know that even if you hate the dress, don’t voice it. This is one of the biggest rules as bridesmaids I will share with you. It’s like the bro-code for dudes. I don’t care if you look like you’re going to the Kentucky Derby with big ruffles or if you’re patterned like an Easter egg, you say “it’s great, it’s so different!” and be sure they’ll say “and you can totally wear it again”. I’ve been fortunate that the majority of my bridesmaid dresses have been pretty cute, but being the fashionista that I am, on a scale from 1-10 of wearing them again the chances are zero. That’s my decision though and shouldn’t ever be communicated to the bride, cause in her mind these are the best dresses anyone could buy. Remember that it’s her day to shine, not yours. She chose you to stand up beside her because you support all of her choices in life and love, so support her dress choice too.
At the wedding, let loose and have fun. But please, oh I beg you, don’t be the laughing stock of the wedding. Don’t be the one that aunts and uncles talk about at family gatherings for years to come. Drink water throughout the day and eat appropriately. Enjoy the toonie or open bar, but respect that someone is paying for that tab at the end of the night. It’s one thing to drink a massive bottle of vodka in the limo with the wedding party during pictures & none of you recall half of the photos that were taken (ok so maybe that happened to me… don’t judge), at least we were all in it together. But please don’t get so drunk that you have to fling open the limo door mid highway and decorate the pavement (no, that did not happen to me- I’m a professional remember?). Be smart ladies, we’re not in high school anymore.
The bachelorette party should be something the bride will feel comfortable doing. Don’t push her outside her comfort zone simply because this is her last “fling before the ring”. If she isn’t the type of girl who laughs at a phallic straw, don’t have her drink out of one (side note: I’ve never understood those. Aren’t you going to see one anytime you want now, and even times when you don’t want to? Single ladies should have those party favors over soon-to-be-married ones… it’s not like you’ll never see one again! Well maybe some of my married friends would argue with me on that one. I digress…). This event doesn’t need to be crazy and wild, filled with booze and a horrible headache the next day. The ones I’ve helped planned & attended have included the following events: trivia mini-golf, pole dancing, wine tours, line dancing class, art class, obstacle course, pubs/bars or surfing lessons to name a few. The key is to do something she would love and then everyone will be happy.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known the bride-to-be, this is one of the biggest days in her life. Every bride wants to feel like a princess, so make her feel like one! Spoil the crap out of her! Send countdown texts leading up to the wedding and arrange to have rose pedals and champagne in the honeymoon suite. These little things can only be done once in her life so make sure you take the opportunity while it exists. Be sure to reminisce about the old times and help calm her nerves throughout the whole process. I love taking a moment with her to reminisce about everything that has led her to this moment. I’m a big believer that those who are in the wedding party should have contributed strongly to either the bride or groom’s lives and also to continue to help them in good times and bad.
My top piece of advice from this professional bridesmaid to you is to remember that this is their day, not yours. You may be envious, tempted to gossip, or not agree, but be honest and kind to your friend, after all there is a reason she asked you and not some others. Take a deep breath and walk down the path with her, which will lead her to her best friend and a lifetime of bliss.