Being always a bridesmaid is much, much harder than being never a bride. In fact, if I could have nothing to do with weddings for the rest of my life, I would be a very happy girl. Unfortunately, I have a lot of cousins on that track to marriage, and I just spent the last two-plus years of my life helping plan my sisters’ weddings. Being a bridesmaid, especially if you’re a maid of honor, is one of the most stressful experiences in a woman’s life. Thinking back on the experiences, these harrowing things came to mind.
Being at the bride’s beck and call
Being a bridesmaid is just a fancy, pretty name for indentured servitude. Sure, you get to celebrate your friend’s marriage and be with her every step of the way, but there’s a reason she needs a crew of well-heeled females at her side: because planning a wedding is something akin to balancing the budget of at least a second-world country. It’s ridiculously fiddly and hella expensive. She needs you there, on perpetual speakerphone or on text, to tell you exactly what your expectations are and your deadlines. It’s a full-time job. You know, in addition to your actual one.
Sharpening those DIY skills
When my sister got married, we bought every single can of gold spray paint within a five-mile radius, and still needed more. We bought paper cutters, wood sanders, pounds of shiny paper, chalkboard pens, popsicle sticks, wood glue, half of Etsy.com, and probably a short stint in rehab. I never want to see pinking shears again.
Having to have major opinions about things you care nothing about
Blue hydrangeas or white, spray-painted hydrangeas? Would you rather have the twinkle lights wrapped around the vase or hanging from the arrangement? Should I put the card table in the front entrance or off to the side? Matte gold spray paint or shiny? Serif font? SANS serif font? Ecru lace or off white? WHERE DOES THE MADNESS END? In these situations, it’s best to just close your eyes and point.
Planning the bridal shower
The bridal shower is one of the biggest events in the bride’s wedding. And if it’s a surprise party, get ready to never sleep until it’s over. Points if you live with the bride, as I did, during the planning of the event, because you’re ready for a career in the CIA. You’ll be an expert at making up lies on the spot, cleaning up after your planning efforts and clearing DIY projects and menus like a criminal cleans up the scene of the crime.
You’ll learn about the relative prices of each macaron bakery in the neighboring towns, and how to bully a cake designer into leaving off garish green roses. (These are all real-life circumstances I’ve experienced firsthand.) You’ll cut table runners with shameful aplomb, and wish for the days you never, ever have to interview the awkward groom ever again. You’ll become an expert at finding cheesy bridal shower games and use your “teacher voice” to command the attention of a room. The sentence, “Does anyone want to play What’s In My Purse?” gives me PTSD to this day.
Planning the bachelorette party
Imagine booking a group flight for thirteen twenty-something women, after engineering a weekend that would work for everyone’s work schedules and planned events, and hoping to God that nothing like what happened to Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids happens to you. Organizing hotels, clubs, parties, restaurant reservations and events for over a dozen girls (if you’re unlucky enough to have a bridal party that big) is stressful enough without having to deal with everyone’s picky preferences. Which leads me to…
Dealing with the personalities, egos and demands of another dozen girls
One girl doesn’t like seafood, the other is a vegetarian, another got sick from the pool and that girl over there wants everyone to spend another couple hundred dollars on stuff none of us wants. Is everyone ready for dinner? Hell, no! We’re thirteen girls all getting ready at once, and someone will definitely be set on fire by the hotel’s hair dryer before we even think about setting foot in the hotel lobby. And then at midnight, one or more girls will invariably be lost somewhere, either off with a guy or dancing on some table, and the bride is puking in her veil.
ALL of the expenses
Here’s a shortlist of the things a bridesmaid has to pay for during the course of an engagement: the couple’s engagement party present, and a dress and shoes for the event; the couple’s bridal shower present, and a dress and shoes for the event; travel expenses, hotel expenses, food expenses, booze expenses for the bachelorette party, and several dresses and pairs of shoes for the event; large budget for aforementioned Etsy/DIY items for the bridal shower; the actual wedding gift (in my family and social circle, a wad of cash); makeup and hair for the actual wedding and the dress and shoes for the event (normally setting you back at least $300 with alterations).
Is there such a thing as bridesmaid’s insurance? Or counseling?