vs. Bride's Maids
How to Keep Your Bridesmaids from Leaving You at the
I’ve been a bridesmaid several times. I just
finished my latest stint and I’m trying to reanimate my exhausted
carcass for a run at maid of honor. I’m not saying I’m involved in any
kind of 27 Dresses shenanigans, but I’ve done my duty more times than
any woman should.
And now, dear Bride, as a representative of
all bridesmaids out there, I’d like to take a moment to speak to you
before you put your favorite ladies on speed dial.
1. The term is
“bridesmaids,” not “bride’s maids.”
term “bridesmaid” is revered. Everyone wants to be one of those lucky
chicks at the wedding. They’re looked up to, they get all the flirts,
and their matching outfits make them look like a sexy military
But it is so easy to separate the syllables and add a
cute little apostrophe, and suddenly “bridesmaids” becomes “Bride’s
I’m warning you now. Do not treat these ladies as though
they are literally your maids. Don’t demand they empty their savings
accounts for dresses. Don’t order them to hot glue favors and bead
vases while they’re supposed to be studying for the bar exam. Don’t rip
up their calendars and hand them a new bride-approved one. Don’t point
out where they missed a speck of dust on your armoire and make them
Unless you actually pay these women with real money,
they are not servants. You don’t get to make huge demands on their time
or insist they fly to Las Vegas for the bachelorette party you decided
last night just must happen today. You can’t use them for heavy manual
labor or put them in charge of dancing with your brother’s lonely best
You can ask them for their availability and
invite them to your bachelorette party. Light crafting is well within
reason, so feel free to ask them (politely) to give you a (convenient)
time when they can hop on by and help you stick rickrack to mason jars
or hand dip candles. And hey, if one of them thinks Eugene’s taped
glasses look trendy, you’ve got a win-win-win situation on your pretty
2. Let’s call a
spade a spade and an ugly dress an ugly dress.
one’s wearing the dress again. Unless you’re one of those super cool
brides who says, “Pick out what you want, my friends. I trust your
judgment in all things!” then odds are your bridesmaids aren’t going to
find the right occasion for the ill-fitting taffeta monstrosity you
threw at them.
Even if the dress is gorgeous, there’s something
different about a bridesmaid dress. It somehow just looks like a
bridesmaid dress, and it seems out of place if you wear it in any other
setting. That floor-length chiffon frock doesn’t translate to Betty’s
favorite techno club or Emily’s backyard BBQ. There’s also something a
little bit off when someone wears a dress they didn’t pick out. It’s
just not them.
The only setting in which a bridesmaid dress is
suitable is another wedding, but - and tell me if this is just me - I
use that as an excuse to buy a fun new dress that I absolutely love.
I’m not recycling anything I didn’t expressly pick out to flatter these
As a friend, you know what your ladies feel confident
wearing. Your busty friend might not appreciate your choice of a
strapless dress with a two-inch bust. Paranoia and nipples do not a
happy wedding make.
The dress doesn’t have to reflect their
personalities. It just has to make them feel comfortable and confident.
If it’s not their style, it’s not their style. They’ll still wear it
because they love you.
3. Your ladies may
still be in the infancy of their counterfeiting operation.
we’re talking about dresses, keep your bridesmaids’ budgets in mind.
It’s not ok to ask them to spend $600 on a dress just because you’ve
spent $3,000 on yours.
Odds are you’ve been saving your pennies
for this little event. When your pal’s grandpa gave her a roll of
quarters when she was 10 and said, “You should put this in your piggy
bank for a rainy day,” your bridesmaid was probably not thinking, “One
day, I’m going to be so-and-so’s bridesmaid, so I better save for this
absolute pinnacle of my life.”
Whether she’s saving for her own
wedding, a car, or an absolutely fabulous new pair of piloxing gloves,
your friend probably wants to spend her money on things that directly
impact her own life. Look for reasonable dress choices, and don’t
demand that she partake in your head-to-toe spa day at Le Designer
Party” doesn’t have to mean airfare + hotel + car rental.
best way to exclude your friends is to plan that trip to Vegas or a
weekend beach retreat on Fiji. Even local stuff can add up. I’ve missed
out on a few fun, depraved adventures because rent was due that week.
If you want everyone there, make sure they can easily afford it.
Because somebody has to buy the bride drinks.
5. Some people (me)
are like mama bears when it comes to their time.
bridesmaids have lives outside of this event. They have articles that
need to be written, laundry that needs to be washed, Netflix shows that
need to be watched and dogs that need to be belly rubbed. They love you
and they’ll probably do whatever you ask, but don’t push it.
ahead for shopping trips, just-for-funsies outings, trust-fall
activities, and crafting sessions. Be respectful of their schedules and
don’t demand that they take off work, class or yoga. Give them enough
advance notice so they can plan around it.
6. Find a dress you
can pee in.
I had a nickel for every time I had to stand on a toilet in high heels
to hoist a big dress over a bride’s head while listening to that
unappealing tinkle noise just before dinner, I’d probably have about
ten bucks, which, in this currency, is significant.
this one is just wishful thinking. Your ladies know this is the most
important moment of your year, and if you want to wear the fluffiest,
frothiest, funnest hoop dress from the 19th century, they’re going to
climb over a public toilet for you to lift that gorgeous confection.
That’s how much they love you.
7. Tell them you
all seriousness, I’ve been really lucky. I do have one dress that I
wear over and over again. I escaped Chicago winter to help a friend
celebrate in sunny California. I bonded with my fellow bridesmaids and
built lifelong-lasting inside jokes about broken underwires and
I love all these women still because they’re
fantastic, strong people. I never felt as though I was being taken
advantage of (maybe a couple times), and mostly budget was considered.
But there are some brides (and mother-in-laws *ahem*) who will take it
too far and who will confuse “bridesmaids” for “bride’s maids.”
respect your ladies, be understanding of their boundaries, and you’ll
end the night how every wedding should end: in a happy, tearful, and
sloppy dance circle.
A Career Bridesmaid Who’s Looking for a New Career