I'll never forget my first time. I wore this drapey cream-colored promish dress. I think it involved a sash. At 21, I celebrated with the bride and other maids at some karaoke bar for the Bachelorette party. I gave the obligatory botched wine-soaked, half-crying speech at the rehearsal dinner. Headache pounding, I then miraculously made it through hair and makeup on the actual "big day."
Walking down the aisle, gracefully carrying a carnation bouquet, I stared at my then boyfriend standing on the groom's side fantasizing about our future wedding. A mere youngster, I clearly knew nothing about love, commitment, or holding my liquor. I'm not sure how much more I know now, but twenty years later, with significantly fewer stars in my eyes, I do have two feet planted more firmly on earth. I also look at the wedding machine quite a bit differently.
With 11 weddings under my belt, I know what wedding procedures and traditions I love (filet mignon) and which ones I would rather not experience ever again (the buffet). With the help of my compadre, Shannon Hill, we give you:
The Good, the Bad (dresses) and the Ugly (my updo) of Bridesmaid-ship
1. Most importantly, before I get into some of the jokes, costs, and annoyances, I want to say that your friend asking you to support her on her special day is a huge blessing. It is a beautiful thing to be asked, and I am grateful for every wedding I've been a part of. Now, let's dig in.
2. It's expensive. That diarrhea scene in Bridesmaids, where they are shopping for pricey wedding dresses, is no joke (well maybe the shitting and puking part). Participation in a full-blown wedding will set you back substantially.
Here is a standard and very approximate breakdown from my experience:
• Throwing the wedding shower costs (hopefully split between the bridesmaid crew) $100 to $300 each depending on fanciness-level.
• Wedding shower gift $50.
• Dress (you won't wear it again), jewelry, and shoes, $400 (bare minimum).
• Bachelorette Party in Vegas with flight, booze, food, chipping in for the bride, limo, hotel, strip club (debauchery), upwards of $1000 each.
• Wedding gift $50 (at least).
• Hair and makeup on the big day $100 to $200-ish.
Michelle's Rough Estimation = $1,800 to be a bridesmaid.
3. Some dramafied episode will happen. It just will. I've seen fistfights that ended the dancing part and major bitchery between the bride's newer friends and older ones. I've seen food throwing between divorced parents of the bride. Some bridesmaid (never me of course) will definitely hook up with some groomsman hoping a relationship will blossom. Someone will drop a glass of beer on the dance floor. Someone else will slip on that beer and cut their lip. Someone will cry. It all goes down at weddings because booze and romantic notions of forever make people say and do dumb things.
4. Rituals that seemed special will become annoying like: the bride and groom lighting one candle with their individual candles to show that now they are all joined and "one being." Same deal with the two colored sand piles that get mixed into one and "can never be unmixed!" The insanity of "mixing lives and forgetting individuality" that is implied with these rituals is what's annoying. Oh, and how can we forget the groom, to sexy stripper music, pulling the garter off the bride's thigh with his teeth while the bride laughs innocently like her dude's never been to that region before. It's so stupid. I loathe it and want this tradition banned.
5. If you are like me and still single in your thirties, be prepared to hear the same thing from aunts, friends, and anyone else at the wedding who sort of knows you: "Don't worry. I am sure you will be next, Honey." My recent experience, their expression is changing from hopeful to doubtful. These loved ones actually don't know anymore if you will be next (and neither do you). Too uncomfortable to ask what is going wrong, they nervously launch back into the old standbys, "You are dating right? Who are you dating?" Please, for the love of Jesus, just ask me about something else. I've gained some weight. Tell me you notice. Honestly, anything is less excruciating than someone asking whom I'm dating.
6. On a positive note, homemade vows are always the best things ever. When I see a couple read something they wrote for their person on a crumpled up piece of paper, I swoon. I love that shit. That's my favorite part of the wedding. Real words, said from the heart are #1 and rule.
7. Speeches are fun and should be taken seriously. If you are giving one, make it funny, practice it, and land those jokes. People love good speeches. Mix the stories, new stuff, and good things about the person your friend is marrying, and you'll be fine.
8. Participation in too many weddings could cause you to not want a wedding. I'm serious. I actually kind of don't know if I want a wedding (when I finally get married at age 80 to my childhood friend I made that "if we're not married by this age" pact with). I might just want to get hitched quietly, in front of a few family members in a field like Napoleon Dynamite's brother Kip. He and LaFawnduh were soul mates, you know.
This thing is getting too long, kind of like a wedding with a full Mass. Whatever you do, be grateful if you're asked, try to suck it up on the finances, and always act like a lady (at least until dinner and speeches are over with).