This year I have several friends who have found "the one" and will be proudly marching down an aisle to commit themselves to another soul for all of their lives.
Ah. I love marriage (click...)
Anyway, I was talking to one of my love-struck friends recently and she asked me about how I chose my bridesmaids. I went a really odd route there, even one of my bridesmaids, Nikki, was surprised that I asked her. There are a lot of interesting assumptions and expectations around wedding parties and I thought it would be nice to weigh in and share my experience.
First let's meet my girls:
Andrea: My former sister-in-law, who was then pregnant with my niece- which meant their entire family was in our wedding party. Unfortunately her marriage with my brother has ended, but thankfully everyone is on good terms.
Sarah: One of my oldest friends- Sarah held my hand, and tricked me into singing a ridiculously calming song, during my first international flight to Europe at the age of 16. I can't say enough nice things about her. Really, I've tried. She exemplifies friendship.
Nikki: Nikki is possibly my oldest friend. I can't remember how far we go back, but I'm thinking we met around the age of 13/14. I dated her brother later in high school. And she still loves me in spite of it. You're the best, Nik.
Larissa: Larissa and I were introduced through our mutual friend, Silvio. We've been to several countries together and had lots of great adventures, generally involving a lot of shopping and some interesting mishaps. Do you remember the shops in Nottingham? I still miss them.
Kristen: Kristen is one of my many cousins- but the one directly behind me in terms of birth order, even though she's 10 years younger. Her mom is also directly behind mine in birth order and was in my mom's wedding. Kristen is one of those girls who is both brilliant (studying to be a plastic surgeon) and gorgeous.
Fact: Just as your wedding is specifically tailored to you and your tastes- so are your bridesmaids. If you want to have your party comprised of only family, that's your agenda. If you want it to be all of your sorority girls, that's ok too. For me- my list was really surprising to many people. I skipped over a lot of girls that I was "closer" to at the time and went instead with some of my oldest friends. Women that I rarely ever saw, and went long amounts of time without speaking to. But they had seen so many of the most important parts of my life, and no matter how much time passed our relationships stayed the same. It only made sense to me that they would be the ones to stand up with me for that moment, because in 50 years, even if we weren't in touch, I knew I'd still love them and think fondly of them. They are time tested, incredible women + friends.
Fact: FALSE! I would hope that no one would ever hold a bride to that standard- the list could get really long! My friend Sarah has been in 12+ weddings. No joke. Sometimes she has done two in the same month. She was in mine! But there's no way that Sarah, who has often expressed her desire for a small wedding, would have all of us in her wedding party. And do any of us feel passed by or less important because of it? I highly doubt it.
Fact: Whoever you want it to be. Or have no one at all! There's a lot of pressure to have a maid of honor/best man, but I wonder if we'd be better off to eschew that expectation. For some people it is much harder to choose than others. I think my brother had two "best men" in his wedding. No matter what- don't let anyone guilt you into choosing him/her to fill that role. It won't be worth it in the end, because when you look back at the pictures it's something that will immediately come into your mind. If you can't make a choice comfortably in this situation- just go without.
Fact: Mix it up! My brother was *this close* to having me walk down as a groomsman in his wedding when he lost a man in his party. I still think it would have been awesome in the end. If I could go back in time, one of the first things I'd do is have my very, very dear friend Silvio (that's him up above) stand up. He flew in from Germany to be there, and our mutual friend Larissa was even one of my bridesmaids, but he wasn't in the wedding. It didn't occur to me until a few days before the event, but I immediately started regretting it and haven't stopped since. It just didn't feel right that he wasn't up there.
Fact: They're here to *support* you. I think it's fairly normal to ask them to come over once--once-- to help with something: favors, centerpieces, decor... but just once. Try to make it a party, serve lots of good food and keep it relaxed. Don't pressure your friends to move at a certain speed. Remember- they're already sacrificing a lot of time and money to be part of your day as is!
Fact: There are so many ways to get around this! What's wrong with two guys walking one girl or vice versa? And why can't people walk alone? Don't force it.
My former sister-in-law, Andrea, once co-owned an event planning company with Alaina, who may as well be a sister to me. I asked them to give their advice to brides about staying out of "bridezilla territory".
Andrea: The best thing a bride can do is try to be as laid back with things as possible. Things WILL go wrong and you just have to be mentally prepared for that. My sister was the most laid back bride during the entire planning process, which actually surprised me. She and her husband just went with the flow the day of, and it turned out to be the perfect day for everyone. Also, try not to be too demanding with hair styles, jewelry, makeup, nail polish, etc., unless you're prepared to pay for some of that as the bride. Not everyone looks good in olive green eyeshadow (yes, this happened) so you shouldn't expect them to buy it, let alone wear it. Most of all, try to enjoy the actual planning process, as this is (hopefully) the only wedding you're going to ever plan. Weddings can be planned in a couple days or a couple years. Enjoy every second of it.
Alaina: Andrea covered most of it! I agree that a bride should try (I know it can be hard!) to be laid back and not sweat the small stuff. Often, the things that feel like giant compromises with your bridesmaids end up making them feel more comfortable, and then everyone enjoys the day more. And happy, comfortable bridesmaids make for better wedding photos anyway. Everyone wins!
That's all I have to say about wedding parties... I think! One more regret? I wish I had let the girls choose their own dresses. They all got to choose their shade of pink, but that's hardly the same. I think they voted on the dress, but I'm not positive. Anyway. Dresses don't have to match these days, and I'd change that if I could. Originally there were two other blogs I wanted to post this week, but as of Thursday night, the weather hasn't been any good for outdoor photography. Our home doesn't get good lighting, so the posts are delayed til next week. I'd love to hear your input about weddings! How did you choose your bridesmaids? Do you have any regrets? Any advice to help brides steer clear of becoming a bridezilla?
All the best and as always, thanks for reading!
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