I have done the bridesmaid routine a few times now, and while I could quote 27 Dresses a million times or even say something along the lines of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”, this isn’t the time or place for that. I haven’t been a bridesmaid 27 times (has anyone ever, other than Jane from 27 Dresses?), but I have done it enough to know the routine. Once a year for the past four years, I’ve been a bridesmaid, as well as some other times pre-college. I know how it goes, what to do, when to show up, etc. I may not be the best bridesmaid, but I do feel like I’ve learned enough to offer up a few tips for those of us who are in the middle of wedding season.
- It’s not your turn. It isn’t. Your turn may have already happened, your turn may be happening soon, or your turn may be so far out of the unseeable future that you are doubtful it’ll ever happen. Unless you and the bride are in a double wedding (which, no, just no), it’s not your turn. Therefore, don’t make it about you. Listen, offer advice when necessary, but don’t make any decision about you. Even the bridesmaid dress.
- Listen. Just do it. Your friend/sister/cousin/college roommate/whatever-she-is-to-you is a woman just like you. She’s going to go through all the emotions under the sun and experience ALL THE FEELINGS when she’s planning her wedding, no matter how laid back or easy going she normally is. She’s going to need someone to listen to when Mr. Perfect Fiance has said something insensitive or totally like a man or when the church isn’t available or when the caterer is more expensive than she planned or when life is just crazy and she needs her friend. Let her rant/rave/cry/laugh all she wants and remember that she did or will do the same thing for you.
- Show up. My friend Kasey recently spoke some incredibly encouraging truths into my life, and one of the things she said to me was that I come to her/show up at things a lot and that makes me a good friend. I don’t say that to sound cocky, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that our friendship has always been a long distance one, BUT, I do think it’s an important point. Showing up to all the things–showers, engagement parties, bachelorette weekends–is important. The bride may be so overwhelmed that she doesn’t get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with you (which can be hard for those of us thinkers/feelers/introverts who crave that), but I can guarantee she’ll be happy you’re there. This is a totally new normal for her, so I would bet money that it would make her feel better/happier to know her girls are there for her.
- Don’t be selfish. Would I rather wear a black dress in the wedding because it’s slimming? Sure. Do I want to go to the mountains instead of a random, non-scenic city for the bachelorette weekend? Absolutely. Is it my call? Not at all. It’s not your wedding. It’s not your day. It’s not your call. Unless the dress makes you feel uncomfortable in some way, don’t say anything. If she doesn’t like it, agree and be willing to try on another. If she does like it and you don’t, smile and nod and ask if it can be shortened so you can wear it again 🙂 But, really. Hop on board when she’s happy about something and agree to whatever because it isn’t your turn.
- Say encouraging things, but don’t overwhelm. My first wedding to be in when I was in college was my dear friend Hannah’s wedding. Almost all of Hannah’s bridesmaids were people she’d been friends with since birth/early childhood, and the others were incredibly important people in her life. Also, Hannah was the first of our group of friends, our age, to get married. It was a big deal for all of us, not just Hannah. And we, as inexperienced bridesmaids, might’ve freaked her out. We had pure motives and good intentions, but I know the words, “This is the biggest day of your life” over and over again in Hannah’s brain were not the most “underwhelming” things. We totally overwhelmed her. I’m not saying that getting married isn’t a big deal. Because it is. It’s a covenant between man, woman, and God. It’s huge. But, don’t you think, if your friend and her future husband are pursuing the Lord then they KNOW THAT?! Hopefully, they didn’t enter into this process lightly, and it’s not your job to remind her of the huge change that will take place that day. Smile, tell her how beautiful she looks, and pray your little heart out–silently.
- Be a help, not a burden. I’ve never gotten married, but I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to have a friend/relative/bridesmaid be more of a burden than a help. As a bridesmaid, your role is to support. That’s it. Lift up her skirts when she needs to pee, wipe a tear away without smudging makeup, and return the random gift from her crazy great-aunt before she gets back from her honeymoon. Don’t complain. Don’t annoy. Don’t frustrate. Help. Serve. Love.
All in all, it’s not your day, but it is one of your people’s days. If you haven’t had your turn, wouldn’t you want her to be supportive and loving and selfless when it is your turn? And if you had, remember how she was when it was your turn. If she wasn’t in your wedding party, just think about how she is as a person. And, if she’s one of those hard-to-love people, remember that she’s in your life for a reason and you’re called to love her because Christ loved us first.
At the end of the day, isn’t it all about reflecting Christ anyway?