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The Secret Life Of A Bridesmaid

Bridemaids photo

One of your best friends is getting married, and you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid. Exciting! But before visions of beautiful dresses and delicate flowers go dancing through your head, consider this: being a bridesmaid can be hard work.

Your job is to make the bride look and feel great from start to finish. From dress shopping to the Bachelorette party to the wedding day itself, a bridesmaid must do her utmost to shelter the bride from stress and drama and most importantly: a bridesmaid does most of her best work behind the scenes. Welcome to the secret life of a bridesmaid.

It’s all about the bride

Sometimes it’s a shock for a new bride to find out that a wedding is more like a carefully co-ordinated military operation than a carefree day filled with relaxed spontaneity. Much like an elegant swan, as a bridesmaid you will appear outwardly serene and unruffled while working like crazy below the surface. It’s your friend’s special day and even if she morphs into a cross between Cruella Deville and a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras, you need to hold her hand and make sure she gets through the wedding relatively unscathed.

The bride should be soothed and made cheerful at every opportunity. A bridesmaid's role isn’t a job, it’s a temporary lifestyle. Check in with your bride regularly, be a shoulder to cry on. Don’t just turn up when you absolutely have to. The bride is probably already having nightmares about wedding day disasters so any reassurance you can give will be priceless.

Bridesmaids photoshoot with the Bride

When it comes to dressing for the big day, etiquette is vital. Unless a different arrangement is actually spelled out to you, it’s best to assume the following rules...

Buy your own dress unless the bride specifically offers to pay. If it’s ugly, suck it up. If you have red hair and freckles and the bride has her heart set on sunflower yellow, tell her it looks vibrant and cheerful. If the dress doesn’t fit and it’s too late to get it altered, bust out the safety pins (I speak from personal experience).

Complaints about bridesmaid’s outfits are just about guaranteed to send the already emotionally fragile bride into a complete tailspin. If the bride’s choice of hair and makeup has you looking like Marge Simpson embarking on a new career as a drag queen, grin and bear it. Close your eyes. Think of the free cake you’ll get at the reception.

The Bridal Shower

Bridesmaids at the Bridal shower

If the bride wants a bridal shower you need to be there to help out. If she wants a gift registry, help set it up. Consult with the matron of honour (if she has one) about what you can do to help. Bake cupcakes, help create shower invitations, make sure that the mother of the bride and future mother-in-law are not going to be offended or horrified by any risqué party games. Again, a bridesmaid must work hard behind the scenes to ensure that the day goes smoothly.

The Bachelorette Party

Hens Night photo

Bachelorette parties can be tricky. This is not the time for a bridesmaid to get paralytic drunk and go home with a stranger at 3am. The night should be raucous yet carefully controlled to keep the bride-to-be the centre of attention at all times. If activities or games have been planned, be active in the planning and setting up. Regardless of the hard work involved, you want to give the impression of a fun and effortless night. Don’t whinge and moan about how difficult it was to get just the right pink sash and little tiara.

At The Wedding

Bridesmaids with the Bride

During the ceremony and the photographs, your main tasks are just to look happy, remember your lines (if you have any) and support the bride. No one wants to see wedding photos featuring a scowling, grumpy bridesmaid. At the reception, get out there on the dancefloor and have fun, or at least do your best to look like you’re having fun. Bridesmaids and groomsmen are relied upon to get the dancing started. Even if she hates dancing, a good bridesmaid will give it her best shot.

If the happy couple have only fond memories of your involvement in their wedding after the confetti has settled, you have done your job perfectly. Now it’s hopefully just a matter of time before the bride is asked to be a bridesmaid for someone else – then she can discover the secret life of a bridesmaid for herself.

If you're planning your wedding, or helping plan aspects of someone elses wedding then take a look at the national wedding directory with vendors in every category imaginable (including hens nights)!

About The Author

Jill Muhling

Jill is a trained scientist but she loves to write, and weddings are much more interesting than writing scientific journal articles. After getting married in Las Vegas, she's pleasantly surprised that her in-laws still speak to her.'