It’s an honor to be a bridesmaid” was my mantra as I leapt from the metal platform to plummet 80 feet at speeds of up to 50 mph.
I was an attendant in October for my friend Erin. She wasn’t interested in any of the cliché bachelorette activities, so the group decided on zip lining — to help bond us together in fear, I guess.
As one of five bridesmaids, I didn’t want to be the “bad bridesmaid” who wouldn’t participate, so my long shriek of terror hopefully proved I would do anything for my friend.
I’m not suggesting that to be a good bridesmaid you have to put yourself into physical danger — I had a helmet, right — but it is important to keep an open mind and remember that everything in the months leading up to your bride’s wedding is about her, not you.
While helping Erin with her wedding, I learned some valuable lessons — the first and most important was that you could have strong opinions, but only up to a point. Don’t let your bride walk down the aisle in a dress that makes her look terrible, but if she prefers strapless when you’d want more coverage, then you need to support her in that decision and let her know how radiant she looks.
“Do what you can” was something else that I had to keep telling myself. Between the mediocre economy and having my own schedule with work and family, I couldn’t always be there for Erin, but I always did my best. When I couldn’t spend as much money going out to dinner or assisting with a party, I tried to give my time and skills elsewhere. When a bride is really stressed, helping out with the small tasks (that can take a lot of time) might mean more to her. I proofread and folded all the menus, went to almost every potential wedding venue and all the dress fittings, sat for hours folding small purple boxes and filling them with chocolates, and, on the day of the wedding, helped core a few apples for the table.
And I asked Erin about the wedding a lot — what I could do, how things were going, and anything to help her work through the stress.
As the only single bridesmaid in the ceremony, I could have run the risk of saying, “When I get married, this is what I am going to do,” and angering my bride. I don’t think I did this, but every bridesmaid’s “avoid this” list has imaginary wedding planning pretty close to the top.
Erin is a good friend, but she didn’t care about my “future” wedding, which may or may not even happen, because we needed to focus on her real wedding. Opinions need to be phrased and considered from the perspective of the bride and what she wants for her big day.
Don’t complain. I failed at this miserably. But I hope that I put a positive spin on some things. Erin had her girls in strapless dresses, with no shawl, in mid-October, and it was cold outside. I told her that I would be purple in all the photographs but at least I’d match her color palette. Our red, dyed shoes bled all over our feet; I joked that I belonged in a slasher flick. No one’s perfect, but keeping a positive attitude before, after, and during the wedding makes it more fun and relaxing for everyone. And don’t forget to put on your smile.
A couple of other pre-wedding activities that I didn’t help with but rank as essential are working with the bride on her registry, seating plan, and bridal shower, and directing people at the wedding. Maybe you’ll get the honor of holding up layers of taffeta when your bride needs to use the bathroom.
Remember that as the bridesmaid you are one of the chosen few — for whatever the reason, maybe good penmanship or everyone else said “no” — and it is your chance to make her wedding the most memorable day of her life.
I learned that weddings are a lot of work, more than any non-bride could know, so I’m going to elope.
Maybe I’ll invite Erin.