The term “bridesmaid” often conjures up images of wild bachelorette parties, pre-wedding mimosa toasts and breathless wedding gown shopping with the bride. But first-time maids beware: It’s not all fun and games. Here are some of the dirty details of being a bridesmaid, the jobs you don’t think about but nonetheless better be ready for!
Let’s start with the bachelorette party and bridal showers.
On bachelorette night, you’re the Designated Bride Buddy. If you’re the maid of honor, I personally think that you are officially in charge of taking care of the bride. You’re her best friend and it’s her night to go crazy, but someone has to make sure she gets home safe. Looking out for her can be as simple as making sure she has her purse and arranging transportation for the night, but it can also mean cutting her off, fending off unwanted attention, or taking care of her if she gets sick. In order to truly watch out for her, you’ll have to dial it back a notch and party a little less than the rest of your group, but your bride will appreciate that someone had her back all night.
Sometimes you have to be the bitch. How can I explain this…? Ok, for example, I once attended a bridal shower where one of the guests had very recently found out she was pregnant. She proceeded to hijack the shower, constantly turning the conversation to herself. The bride was way too sweet to say anything, but I felt really bad watching this girl take over the bride’s day. Bridesmaids (and especially MOH), if someone’s got to be the bitch, make it you. Now, I don’t mean go all bridesmaid-zilla on her. But pull girls like this aside and remind them what we’re here to celebrate. The same concept can apply to girls who are holding up the group at bachelorette parties, stressing the bride out with worries for the future or needling her for any “nagging doubts”. If there’s negative energy in the group, take into upon yourself to “bridesmaid up” and stand up for your friend.
On the wedding day, you may find yourself involved in all kinds of precarious situations.
The term “bridesmaid” can sometimes translate to “event helper”. If a bride has taken on a lot of the planning, decorating and organization of the event herself, she’s going to need willing servants the day of to do her bidding. You are now officially manual laborers. You may find yourself setting up chairs, arranging flowers, hanging decorations or completing any number of tasks. I once helped the bride cook dinner for her fifty guests, arranged chairs in the yard, made a veil out of few yards of mesh and then cleared dirty plates and carried out each of the three courses during the reception.
Wedding dresses are complicated. They require things like corsets and bustling. Both of these tasks will fall to the bridesmaids and trust me when I say they can be frustrating and time-consuming. It’s highly, highly recommended that at least one of the bridesmaids go to the final fitting with the bride! There a wedding professional can teach you how to properly lace the corset (And make it look good! That’s the hardest part!) and bustle the gown. Make sure you try it yourself at least once in the salon. Need a refresher? Here’s a great video on corset lacing (with a British accent!). Bustling will really depend on the gown, so make sure someone has taken notes!
You may be familiar with the ol “help the bride pee” bit. This is a real thing people. If the dress has any kind of volume or train, the bride will need some assistance and it’s your job to give it! This may even extend to helping the bride sit without wrinkling her dress. One of my brides had a huge gown that would wrinkle if she sat on it, so as we waited for the ceremony to start we draped the entire skirt around a sofa with the bride plopped in the middle. She looked like a giant cupcake, but that dress stayed wrinkle-free!
Oh, picture time. You are so long and complex. But during this time, it’s your job to keep the bride looking fresh and perfect. Of course someone will need to carry around her train, but you should be ready for anything. I’ve toted around a damp towel to dab off sweat during a hot Florida summer and a friend of mine once switched underwear with the bride halfway through the photo shoot because the bride’s colored panties were showing through the dress!
In the grand scheme of things, these dirty details are just that—details. What I remember about each of my experiences as a bridesmaid are the good things—the excitement, the fun, the laughs, the tears. But be ready to be a helper and supporter to your friend, even if that means getting your hands (and dresses) a little dirty.