“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”
At this point, I think we’ve counted that I’ve been in around 13 or so weddings. Proportionally speaking this puts me well on my way to being the next 27 Dresses, so I like forward to my big film debut.
But in all seriousness, I have been in my fair share of weddings. I’ve been a bridesmaid, an attendant, an honorary bridesmaid, a maid of honor. You name it, I’ve done it, and I’ve probably attended twice as many bachelorette parties so don’t even get me started there. While every wedding is different, there are a few consistent things worth trying whether you’re approaching your first wedding as a bridesmaid or your 27th.
If There Are Toasts, Make One
As a bridesmaid, you’ll be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend because it’s such an intimate time of storytelling and memory making with the bride and groom. It’s a fun evening where you get the chance to remind one of your best friends exactly how much and why you’ve loved them in the past and offer up a little blessing for their future.
One of my friends gave the best advice when it comes to making a toast at a rehearsal dinner. Follow a simple formula of “Funny Story About Bride” + “Funny Story About Groom” + “Kind Quality About Bride” + “Endearing Moment About Groom.” Hopefully, by that point, you’re a little too choked up to continue, and you can gracefully bow out. But should you remain dry-eyed like the ice queen you are then round out your speech with good wishes about their confident future? All of this should happen in 5 minutes tops.
Save Your Money
By the time you add up the dresses, bridal showers, bachelorette party, wedding presents, potential travel expenses, and maybe some days off from work you’re looking at a pretty hefty chunk of change when you say yes to your bridesmaid’s dress. If you know you have a few weddings on the horizon, then it’s wise to save up for them the way you would any significant investment or trip.
If you’re really into budgeting and financial planning, then make a line item for wedding expenses. Odds are even if you aren’t always in weddings you’re probably attending them which means a few presents every wedding season or so. Figure out some clever ways to buy dresses or borrow from some friends when you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your wedding wardrobe possibilities. Just because a wedding is breaking your friend’s bank doesn’t mean it has to break yours. If you’re strapped for cash, then pick and choose what events you attend to save a little extra money. Odds are as long as you’re there for the big important ones (think bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, and actual ceremony) then the bride will understand.
Remember Your Place
It’s easy to think being a bridesmaid is all about the parties and events and the fun. In reality being a bridesmaid is so much more than that and it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities if we aren’t careful.
When you agree to be a bridesmaid you agree to stand in and stand up for your friends. You’re standing up in front of them and everyone else to say you support their marriage and you approve of their union. You’re showing others that you think they bring out the best in each other, you think that the two of them together will make the world a better place than they could if they were apart, and you’re fully committed to them as they commit to each other. By standing in for them, you agree to remind them of their commitment to one another and remind them of the love, grace, and patience, they’re to share with each other. You’re standing in for their relationship when things get tough.
This isn’t a light commitment. If you don’t agree with those things or don’t think you’ll be able to carry out these emotional commitments as a bridesmaid or fundamentally disagree with the marriage, then it’s time to do the brave thing and say no. Rather than standing up or standing in it might be time to stand down.
No matter what side of the aisle you find yourself on this wedding season may it be one full of memories, friendship, and cake, yes, lots of cake.