So when you usually think of weddings doesn’t an ideal come to mind? You think of a perfectly smooth ceremony, the bride perfectly calm and poised, the family cooperating peacefully, fabulous food and music, good company and vintage and cute decorations.
Then, I became a bridesmaid and my whole outlook changed. First, I never realized how family drama and DIY weddings could make the anticipated event so stressful.
First: Never leave out the siblings, even if they were only guilted into being part of the wedding. Include them to avoid hurt feelings and awkward moments when they’re about to cry for being left out even if it’s inviting them to go out to eat or something!
Also, if you’re conscripted into flower clipping, especially with roses please wear gloves! Speaking from experience, it can be painful handling dozens of rose stems. Snipping off those thorns is no party, I promise. Yet, it can definitely be a bonding experience and give you something to laugh about later, especially when you have to clean up all the stems and leaves that flew all over the kitchen. You need to take a step back and remember: you have no control over the petals wilting and browning. Even if they do, don’t worry. Roses have enough petals to pick off.
Another thing, if you’re working on venue setup, plan to get to the venue with the bridal party an hour early. We were running late with decorating and soon enough, wedding guests were pouring into the venue and we were still doing our hair, frantically pulling on bridesmaids dresses and slathering on makeup all while the videographer snaps close up shots of you putting on eyeliner. Give me some space, please?
Even in all this awkward though, I realized that the quirk makes you smile more than the perfect. When the bride forgets her veil and you remind her, you share a secret joke. The stress can frazzle your nerves but if you ride the waves of it, you can truly realize just how valuable weddings really are despite awkward questions about your relationship status (yes I’m single and no I don’t want to sit with your dorky single guy friend) family drama, scrambling to get ready for the wedding and everything in between.
To start off, there are three things you must know when you’re a twenty something struggling through your career, and no white dress, shiny diamond or tropical honeymoon are in sight. To top it off, your “close” friend invited you to the wedding of the century: hers. What do you DO?
First, the best thing you can do if you need to find cute heels and a cute dress in a pinch that don’t scream “poor college kid” and show you’ve graduated from sweatpants and your college fraternity tee?
With Grandma by my side, trust me, we blazed through the racks at Francesca’s and DSW like pros on TLC (my grandma did this while I “browsed” casually not making up my mind on what to try on as usual).
Second, the seating arrangements. If you see that a “Cole” or a “Chad” or a “Mike” is plopped beside you, chances are high you’re sitting beside the grooms single guy friends. Caution! Try to act cool. Don’t bring up how you were supposed to be in the wedding and how if you were a bridesmaid, you would have pulled for a live band. Don’t do it. And don’t panic. The guy is (while heart stoppingly attractive or completely NOT your type)just as nervous as you, if not more uncomfortable in a tie that he can barely breathe in.
Break the ice by asking about how he knows the couple or how you know the bride. BUT, try not to spill the wedding cake and don’t be afraid to pull a Cinderella and slip out the back when he grills you on your major, your classes, your grad school application or worse your relationship status (don’t ask me if I’m single, DON’T do it!) . Friend, this is not the bachelor, a Nicholas Sparks novel, a Taylor Swift song or a Hallmark movie. Think Katniss Everdeen.
Three: Not making the cut.
So you get the cutest wedding save the date and invite, but You’re not in the bridal party, house party or anything! Even though the bride put you in an awkward position, from there, it can only get better.
This happened to me once but trust me it isn’t that bad. Showing up, dressing up and giving the bride something special will show her you love and appreciate her. It’s not about you, despite the awkward stares from friends you don’t know, the talks with the parents who feel guilty you weren’t in the wedding but fumble with the right words to say: “you mean so much to Alli. We appreciate you… You’re so….special.” Um what? Eyebrows raised, you hold your breath for them and then, you leave. You laugh. You smile and let go.
It’s a new season for them and so what if you’re not part of it. You learned a great character lesson, how not to treat people in the future. Please have a good laugh and a long talk with another friend who’s been blindsided by weddings. Just don’t tear apart the annoyingly cute Michael Buble music and ask the bride why she didn’t choose you. She can pick her battles and so can you.