Wedding season is right around the corner. We know this because suddenly our Facebook feeds are filled with a rolling stream of engagement photos from happy couples who made this life-altering decision sometime around the holidays. It happens every year.
And for the next year, it’s going to be all about your friend. Especially if she does the honour of asking you that coveted question: “Will you be my bridesmaid?” Your first reaction might be one of sheer elation. Your friend has chosen you! Of all her gal pals that she could have asked, she wants you to stand up there next to her on what is one of the biggest days of her life.
Your first reaction will inevitably be to say yes. After all, who would say no to such a request? Turns out, plenty of people, and for very good reason. With exorbitant costs, rising expectations and a fury of feelings about to be unleashed, you’d better know exactly what you’re getting into.
Be prepared to spend a lot of cash. Like, a lot of cash.
We’re not kidding. If you agree to be in someone’s wedding, then you’re probably looking at a minimum investment of $1,000. That covers the cost of the dress, the bridal shower gift (and your contribution to planning), a potential engagement party gift, the bachelorette, the wedding present and the hotel. If you can’t pony up, peddle out of the party.
Yup, that dress comes with the deal
What’s that? Orange isn’t your colour? And your body doesn’t look as good in that strapless as the bride’s skinny vegan friend? We hate to break it to you, but tough. None of this is your call. So put a smile on your face and say what every bride really wants to hear deep down: “And I can totally wear this again!”
In fact, be ready to throw all opinions out the window
You’re a bridesmaid, and while you may be asked to vote on the token item or two, this isn’t the opportunity to talk about how people should just run off and get married on the beach. Or even worse, to question Bridey on whether she really wants to go with those salmon-coloured linens. Your role is to support and suppress.
Make sure you brush up on those interrogation skills
Remember that right now, this wedding is going to take up all of your friend’s spare time. Every. Single. Second. Of. It. So if you’re not checking in and asking for updates, probing into how things are going and wanting to know about her latest decisions–no matter how big or small–she might begin to feel like you’re not into this. And a hurt or angry Bridey is not what you want on your hands.
You’re going to have to get into silly games
Yes. Some brides understand that Toilet Paper Bride is a waste of valuable toilet paper (and time). But their moms/aunts/second cousins don’t necessarily feel that way. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the silly games you’re going to get into. So let the old guard down, and catch that bouquet. With enthusiasm.
Be prepared to drink. A lot.
Depending on your disposition this might not be a bad thing, per se, but know that there is actually a lot of partying involved with being in a wedding party. That’s because every get-together is an excuse to either celebrate the small victories, or air all of the grievances going on in the wedding planning. Either way follow Bridey’s lead. Or, if she’s being a bit much to handle, hopefully your fellow bridesmaids can offer some support.
But know there is also a chance you will not get along with your fellow bridesmaids
You’d think that because you have Bridey in common, everyone would just get along, right? In a perfect world we suppose that’s the case. In the real world you’re probably going to have to hang out with people you would never consider adding to your circle of friends, and you’re going to have to pretend to like them for Bridey’s sake.
It will be especially hard when not everyone pulls their weight
It happens in every single bridal party: one person just doesn’t contribute the same amount of time, effort or cash as the other girls in making sure that the bride has a spectacular time at her shower/bachelorette/wedding. So when it happens to you, don’t be shocked. And definitely don’t go complaining about fellow bridesmaids to your friend—she’s got enough on her plate. This is just something else you’re going to have to suck up, Sally. As irritating as it is.
There could be a time when you’re called on to craft
Yes, craft. Lots of brides have grand ideas of quaint centrepieces and elaborate, cost-saving bouquets. And guess what? She’s entitled — it’s her wedding. Part of your job, if she asks, is to break out the hot glue gun and stick pretty flowers onto sticks. Or whatever is all the rage these days. If you’re lucky, she’ll either skip the homemade projects altogether or ask her sister to help instead.
Expect drama. Lots and lots of drama
No wedding is complete without it. We’ve seen weddings where the future sister-in-law has boycotted the wedding at the last minute, where bridesmaids have dropped out and axed friendships, where wedding parties have trashed hotel rooms and more. The best thing you can do is be a sympathetic ear and stay as far away as possible. Or, if you are involved, ball up your feelings and stay as calm as possible until you can let it all out during your own private time.
Set aside your summer. And spring. And probably fall.
What, you thought the bride only got a day? It’s a full year. Between the planning, coffee dates, therapy sessions, various wedding-related functions and the wedding itself, you’re booked baby.
The friend you said yes to might become someone else
We’re all familiar with the term Bridezilla. Well, whether she wants to or not, your friend will probably become a version of one at some point. And you can’t blame her. Or feed her cookies–part of the reason she’s probably so stressed is lack of nourishment from trying to look SOOO skinny on her big day. So when things go crazy, have some carrot sticks and hummus on hand to offer as a snack and try to remember the good times. They will hopefully return one day.
Oh yes, and factor in additional costs
What, you thought you could wear an old pair of shoes with that new dress? And do your OWN hair and makeup? In some cases, sure. Just as every bride is different, so too are her asks when it comes to accessories. But doing hair and makeup together is a huge part of the wedding day. Be prepared to have yours done–at your own expense–under her watchful eye.
Brush up on your public speaking skills, because you may have to make a toast
Or give a speech, read a poem or help announce events at any wedding-related activities. It doesn’t matter if you have severe stage fright — that isn’t something you can politely decline. Luckily, there are lots of online resources to help you conquer your fears and avoid coming off as the drunk uncle when it’s your time to shine.
Go into it knowing that at some point you might have to be the bigger person
Fights happen, and you could have one with Bridey. Especially if her behaviour gets out of hand. But even if she’s in the wrong and you feel justified in your feelings, you’re going to score more points down the road by being the bigger person now and extending that first olive branch. Don’t worry, pride doesn’t taste THAT bad going down.
Remember that at the end of the day, this could all be worth it
After all, if your friend probably asked you to stand up for her on her big day, that probably means your friendship has been tested in the past. Once it’s all over, this could all very well be one crazy, fun year to add to your growing list of memories. Not to mention that it will make you and your gal pal closer than ever before.