The first time I was asked to be a bridesmaid, I thought I scored the supporting actress role in an Oscar-worthy film. I smiled wide and wrapped my arms around the bride, hugging and kissing her with utter thanks. This was the gig of a lifetime and I was honored, at the ripe, broke age of 22, to have landed it.
But two months and $565 dollars into it, I started to understand that while being a bridesmaid can be a whole lot of fun, it can also be a whole lot of work. And it can cause a whole lot of damage to your wallet, your liver, and your sanity.
Nobody teaches you how to be a bridesmaid, so it’s only natural to approach the first couple of times you do it as if someone is blindfolding you and leading you down the aisle, a bouquet of fresh smelling peonies in hand. You’ll find yourself saying yes to everything and winding up with a closet filled of overpriced polyester dresses that hardly fit because you couldn’t afford the extra hundred dollars of alterations. You’ll find yourself dehydrated and exhausted after bachelorette weekends in Vegas. And you’ll find yourself wondering if you’ll be left with a friend after the whole shindig is over, or if you will forever remember the bride as the sum total of her handful of bridezilla moments.
So, if you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid so often that you’re beginning to become the real-life version of the movie 27 Dresses, you may start to feel as if being a bridesmaid is not—at all—like having a supporting role in an Oscar-winning film, but instead something you continuously roll your eyes at.
Here are nine ways to actually enjoy being a bridesmaid the next time you have to stuff yourself into the polyester and take baby steps down the aisle.
1. Forget You Have a Savings Account
Right after you say your own personal I DO to being a bridesmaid, the next thing you should do is forget about the money in your savings account or the emergency cash you have hidden under your mattress. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend it’s stored inside of a safe with 12 locks attached to it. Set a budget for your bridesmaiding self and stick to it. Anything extra is everything you should say no to. If not, you’ll spend the money you should be sticking in your 401K on a set of too-expensive knives for the bridal shower and a pre-wedding girls getaway to Cabo.
2. Give the Dress a Little Makeover
If you zip on the bridesmaid dress and feel like you just covered your body with your grandmother’s window treatments, there is still a glimmer of hope. You can feel more confident and comfortable in your dress by adding a twist of your personality to it with accessorizes, a funky hairstyle, or even a loud and proud purse.
"Set a budget for your bridesmaiding self and stick to it. Anything extra is everything you should say no to."
3. Don’t Make Being a Bridesmaid Your Second Full-Time Job
It can be ultra tempting to get bridesmaid obsessed and make the role feel like your second full-time job, or one of those unpaid internships you did in college. You’ll find yourself reading through email chains from the other bridesmaids until 1 a.m. or researching the perfect t-shirt to make for the bachelorette party. But make sure to only devote an hour or two a week to planning, or else you’ll find yourself with life-size headaches and zero free time.
4. Forgive the Bride When She Goes Bridezilla
It’s going to happen and when it does, you may find yourself bulging your eyes at a friend or a family member you once viewed as the calmest person you know, now seemingly loosing their mind over why the venue can’t provide them with kale instead of romaine lettuce. Just know that as a bride, she's dealing with a lot of stress and pressure, so if she starts acting out of character, the only real thing you can do is forgive her. And take her out for a glass (or three) of wine.
5. Remember That There’s an End…to the Aisle
If you find yourself getting gray hairs during the experience and constantly letting out verbal sighs of ughhh whenever the maid of honor texts you, just know that this too will pass. Soon enough, there will be the moment when you’re walking down the aisle, followed by the moment when you’re stuffing your face with a piece of salmon, followed by the moment when you’re busting out dance moves beside the bride’s 76-year-old drunk uncle. Convince yourself that it will all be over soon, and make the best of the adventure in the meantime.
6. Use the Wedding as an Excuse to Take a Vacation
If you’re traveling to another country or state for the wedding, or even spending the day at a local venue getting glammed up, use the wedding weekend as an excuse to get away from it all. Spend the day before, or the morning of the wedding, relaxing at the pool or getting a massage. After all, even though you’re not the one saying I DO, you are part of the party, and the party deserves to have fun.
"If she starts acting out of character, the only real thing you can do is forgive her."
7. Get Buddy Buddy with the Other Bridesmaids
The more the merrier when it comes to getting through the duties of being a bridesmaid. Team up with the other bridesmaids and get to know them. They can be there for you when you need a pre-wedding vent session or even to strategize how to get the bride to stay calm, cool, and collected.
8. Skip the Bridesmaidzilla Thing & Be the Life of the Party
Remember, the wedding day isn’t about you, so if the weather is warm or your shoes are giving you blisters, or you don’t feel like smiling for the 435th picture of the day, there’s no use in complaining. You’ll bring down the overall mood and get the bride all stirred up. Instead, take breaks when you need them, carry Band-Aids with you always, and bat your eyelashes at the soon-to-be open bar.
9. Remember How Totally OK It Is to Say NO
If something isn’t sitting right with you, your budget, or your schedule, go ahead and say no. Don’t feel bad about it. If you force yourself to do something you absolutely dread, you’ll be even more miserable and your experience as a bridesmaid will be a total nightmare. Say no along the way and you’ll have an easier time saying yes when you need to.
Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged, and her forthcoming book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire), will be released in 2017. She's also the creator of the website, The Things I Learned From, and the biggest supporter of the NYC pizza industry.
All animations created and/or downloaded via giphy.com.