Kids really do say the darnedest things. It is amazing how they can point out something so obvious, something you even have previously questioned, and then makes you seem like an idiot for not having an answer at the ready for them. Such is the case with my little cousin and me just a month or so ago.
My little cousin is three, almost four years old but acts more like she is three going on forty-five. She is adorable and wise beyond her years. The things that come out her mouth crack me up and leave me speechless. None more so than when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding for another, I should mention age appropriate, cousin of ours.
When someone we are close to first gets engaged it’s an exciting time. We are happy for them, sharing in their celebrations, and maybe even in early wedding planning. If you are me you are also involved in the taking the engagement photo shoot for the save-the -dates. But all the love and happiness can be easily sucked out of a room in an instant as many of us woman know. This is the moment you are asked to be in the bridal party.
Now for clarification I should mention that obviously this is not a bad thing. In fact it is an honor to be asked to stand beside the bride. But this depends on the bride. Actually strike that because to some degree ladies, yes even you have done this, all go little if not all the way off their nut.
It is so funny to me that when a bride to be has been a bridesmaid they swear when it is their turn they will never do X, whatever it is they are being forced to do, but everyone has some bridezilla qualities to them. I know weddings are an important step, but the marriage is what we should all be focusing on. I hate when couples forget that.
But let’s head back to the bridal party discussion. As I can attest to, as I have been a bridesmaid two going on three times (I am using the M.O.H. - Maid of Honor- it’s what I am best at) it can be a daunting task. There is so much to plan, buy, and commit to. As usual the men get off easy with only having to rent a tuxedo and wake up that morning and comb their hair. Not us girls! It takes a year to plan the wedding and that time to get our look just right. But this is where things get tricky for bridesmaids and little Gigi.
Being a bridesmaid can be just that: a maid for the bride. Depending on who is the bride and your relationship to her, the duration of preparing for the wedding, the actual day, and some time afterward can be overwhelming. But the big question is always….dun..dun…dun……what will your dress look like?!!!!
It is always the first thought on your mind and the first question you will be asked when you tell someone you are a bridesmaid. Everyone has a horror story about expensive gowns ordered online that were never tried on just “measured” and now needed two hundred dollars in alterations. There are terrible colors, the styles that are inappropriate for women with large chests, and my favorite, how will women of different shapes and sized look in the EXACT SAME DRESS?! Um, usually not great. Best of all we all have different goals we look for in a dress we buy and it’s usually the bride picking the gown and bridesmaids are lucky if they get a veto. Just thinking about it gives me a knot in the pit of my stomach.
After the dress, there are the shoes. Do we all have to have matching shoes? There were the days we had to die them the same color as the dress which meant I paid one hundred dollars for shoes that I could never wear again and left my feet purple for a week. Nowadays, it’s not so bad girls’ mostly wearing silver or metallic looking colors that you can reuse. As for jewelry, hair, and nails I never have listened to anyone. I think that you need to do what’s best for you. Depending on the season and the dress the odds that all of women will have a similar appearance are high. I wear jewelry that is comfortable because it is a long day, and if the bride has given something as a gift for being in the bridal party that definitely goes on, especially if they have good taste. My hair has to at least be half up because I hate it in my face especially in the summer. As for my nails I have never liked when I have gotten a French manicure because they day after the wedding they appear boring. So now I get a light color that will blend into the flowers I will be carrying.
These are my rules and if I am in your bridal party take me as I am or leave me. But there are some real crazies out there. I have actually heard of a bride making up a contract that she wanted her bridesmaids to sign!! I swear! I saw it. She wanted them to agree on what color their nails would be, jewelry they could wear, and my favorite no one could get pregnant!! I would have done that out of spite but shock of all shocks that wedding fell through. Any guesses why?
Well since I told you before that I was recently in my cousins wedding in July, we had clearly agreed on everything. The dress fit great on my body and in my wallet. She is someone I look at like a little sister and I have been blessed to only participate in weddings with people I really love.
When our little cousin Gigi approached me that day, I was on the receiving line at the church right after the wedding ceremony. The bridal party was fairly large and I was standing closest to the church. It happened to be a particularly hot day in July in New York so I stepped back into the church for a much need air conditioned break. I went over to kiss some relatives hello and when I bent down to kiss Gigi she had a strange look on her face. She said why do you look like that girl? At the time there was a crowd blocking us from the rest of the receiving line. I said what girl? But she was insistent and marched me over to see. That girl!! Then it hit me. Why did all of these girls have on this same blue dress? Duh?! The best part was that I didn’t have an answer, but to say because we are bridesmaids. Gigi said, so? What is that for? Then there were crickets. I am thirty-one and I couldn’t think of what to say to a three year about a ceremony I was active in and dealt with on a regular basis. She was commenting on dresses that I had been discussing forever and I had no answer. Right there I kissed her and said I don’t know it’s what we do but I will find out and let you know. I made a mental note to find out and when I got a chance I did. This is what I discovered.
In all began in Roman times. Wedding parties would dress as close to the bride and groom as possible to confuse and ward off evil spirits. Today the bridal party still dresses alike (not to match the bride and groom but to each other) to prevent anyone who would want to wish bad luck to the newlyweds. Over time the dresses the bridesmaids wore, although they all had to match, slowly became based on fashion and season.
Historically the size of the bridal party was largely in relation to the wealth of the family. The women were young and unwed. In some countries this still rings true and we this saw two years ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married. The bridal party was wearing all white and her bridesmaids were little girls. In the U.S. only the Maid of Honor and the Best Man are the official witnesses and after the ceremony sign the marriage license.
Another interesting piece of trivia is the meaning behind something blue, as in something borrowed, something new, something old, and something blue to give the bride for luck. The blue is to represent the Virgin Mary. How ironic that it is usually on the garter.
The Romans also initiated the cutting and feeding each other the wedding cake. Back then sharing food was a symbol of sharing a life so when the bride feeds the groom she is symbolizing sharing herself with her husband.
Once you explain one tradition all of the others start to flood your mind and you need the answers. I was reading and researching for hours. It was like my whole foundation for life was cracking. There are so many rituals we take for granted in our daily lives that we don’t examine, some we might not even like but continue to do without questioning. If I am going to do something I like to know the reason behind it. I suggest you check out the links below for some other interesting tidbits.
Now when I plan my own wedding I will be able to make choices based on fact. I do love true stories.
I also hope that you have friends and family that have the sense to make you look your best since they are the ones paying for the photos that will be displayed in their house for the rest of their lives. That never made any sense to me, why they would want you to look bad even if the bride and groom are the focus; you are standing right next to them. Neon green stands out next to white. I never had to wear an ugly colored dress but that is probably because I am known for not trying on anything I hate and by refusing to wear what I don’t like, I have avoided most problems others may have. It’s a good tip. Use it wisely. I use it for good and evil.
There was a new talk show phenomenon this summer called The Real. On the panel was stylist Jeannine Mai. One day the discussion drifted to weddings and she said that she has been asked to be in seventeen bridal parties but has only accepted and been in six. She had great advice: that you should only take on responsibility when you can truly devote yourself to it and not to stress yourself or the bride out by taking on something that is neither financially or emotionally possible. The best thing to do is to be honest and that way you can still attend the wedding as a guest and celebrate. This way everyone wins.
I agreed with much of what she says however I feel there are certain people in our lives you have to make it work for. Weddings, God willing, are a once in a lifetime event, and if you and the blissful couple agree on the situation then you can all have your cake and eat it too before and after the wedding. The only time crisis occur is when panic arises, from time closing in, and stress, this happens to everyone which is why all brides go a little nuts. So better than causing conflict everyone should be open with one another, lean on one another, and when all else fails, say: Hell No To The Dress!! It is nothing some yelling and laughing can’t fix.
I hope this educated all of you out there especially those who have been, will be, or are currently in a bridal party. Luckily real life is not like a movie but unless you are a pro or trying to break a record I would try to keep the number of weddings you are in under at least seventeen. Lord knows I am. If it starts to get that close I am just going to start picking fights with people and make up with them after they are married.
Gigi, now that I have a proper answer for you I hope this lessons the confusion although I admit I was hoping for a more dramatic answer. I hope by the time you grow up there will be new traditions that will make being a bride’s maid even more exciting.
It has been my experience certainly that when that big day finally arrives and you are standing at the end of an aisle watching your best friend or cousin walk down toward you, all that has come before this moment fades away.
Your heart and eyes will swell.
You will be overcome with love.
That is what it is suppose to be about after all.
For Further Reading: