Always a Bridesmaid

When you hit your mid-20s, something funny happens, your friends suddenly fall into one of two groups:

1) Those who are getting married/in weddings constantly
2) Those who seem to avoid weddings with a 10 foot pole

Most of my friends seem to fall into one category or the other. They either spend all their time at weddings, or they haven't really started into that yet.

I fall into the first group.

I’m not planning a wedding yet (yet!) but the phrase “always a bridesmaid” has started to ring true, as I've currently done the deed 3 times, and have another 3 coming up in the next year.

I’m kind of hoping I hit double digits.

Aside from official bridesmaid duties, I've also been in attendance at a number of weddings for mine or Kris' friends, helped plan bachelorettes or showers for weddings I'm not a bridal party member of (that's actually real fun!), and am often a "point person" for advice on timelines and bridal stores, since I've visited just about every single store in the Toronto Area.

My time as a bridesmaid has included a few ups and downs…

  • Ups: Getting together with Kris at my best friend Rebecca’s wedding when I was a M.O.H.(they’re cousins), arts and Crafts time with Steph, a hilarious half English half Portuguese Wedding Dress shopping experience for Diana.
  • Downs: Getting asked to be a bridesmaid a week and a half after a breakup… I was ok after 30 minutes, but it was a rough 30 minutes. Being up at 6:00am so that I could get my hair and makeup done, knowing I would be up for at least 21 hours. Being broke just, all the time.
Ultimately though, it has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. Here, so far, is what I've learned about weddings, and myself, along the way:

1) Always a bridesmaid but never a bride  

I'll admit that as I get closer to 30, this one starts to sting a bit, but being a bridesmaid itself is NOT depressing! 

I love being in my friend’s weddings and being a part of their happy day, and dreaming about what mine might be like is usually the furthest thing from my mind while I'm helping a friend with theirs. 

I once described it to a friend as a “flu shot” technique. You get a little bit of the virus and it tides you over through the season until next year. These brides are having fun but they are BUSY and STRESSED, weddings are a lot of work and I’m ok with waiting and getting to do just enough along the way to enjoy the experience (and get lots of insight for when it's my turn!)

2) Just shut up and wear the dress 

I’m lucky, my friend’s have excellent taste… But every single one of them has said “wear what you want” and then put their ladies in an identical dress for the day. 

I always tell them, and I’m telling you, that’s what you sign up for as a bridesmaid. Not only am I happy to wear (and pay for) this dress, but I’m happy to say that you will put on whatever I tell you to when the time comes, AND YOU WILL LOVE IT!

3) Attend EVERY event (unless you really really can't) 

Anyone who knows me well knows that usually somewhere in the middle of being a bridesmaid, I get a little sulky. It's a LOT of events: Bridal gown shopping, bridesmaid dress shopping, dress fittings (for you AND the bride), showers, bachelorettes, floral appointments, Stag and Doe, arts and crafts time, helping out with picking stuff up, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes, life can be overwhelming. Getting to every single event is occasionally difficult and it's easy to think "I don't want to do this, I just want to eat chicken wings and watch Netflix!". 

But here's the truth from someone who can be a Grumpy Gertie about these things: I promise you, if you just get off the couch, put on a smile and go, you will have an incredible time. 

It will mean so much to the bride that you’re there, you will have a great day, and in the end your friendship will be stronger for making the effort. You are the comic relief, you are her back up when her mother gets critical, you are the cheering section and the positive reinforcement that YES, everybody will love the lemon cake. So many of the incredible moments for a wedding happen before the wedding, don’t miss them.

4) Only help with the DIY if you’re crafty 

Look… Every bride wants a personal touch for their wedding. Some, like my friend Rebecca, do minimal DIY. Others, like my friend Steph, are DIY goddesses who have all sorts of great ideas and need some help with a hot glue gun. 

It is ok to say NO to DIY if you’re concerned your craft skills are sub par… just be honest with your bride that it’s the reason why. Otherwise, grab a bottle of vino and your glitter; you’re in for a funny evening!

5) Only do as much as your bride wants you too 

Most brides are happy to have you at an appointment or helping out, but don’t become the unofficial cruise director of this love boat. 

If you’re the Maid of Honour, it will be made more clear if there are above and beyond duties (bachelorette, speech, hosting a shower) but if you’re a bridesmaid, take direction from your bride and her M.O.H. Don’t prep a speech unless you've been asked, it will be really awkward for everyone.


Having been a bridesmaid and a M.O.H, I understand the rationale behind wanting to wear 3” heels. But believe me when I tell you, it is a long day (especially as a M.O.H.). 

Wake up, in the chair at 7:00 for hair and makeup, limited food, champagne, photos, limo ride, more photos, walk down the aisle, stand, cry happily in public, walk back, MORE photos, cocktails, dinner and dancing. 

During all this time, you need to be ready to find the wedding planner for any number of reasons, get grandma in line, run up to the bridal suite to get the bride her lipstick, play with the flower girl so she doesn't get bored… by the time you've spent 14 hours in your heels and long dress, believe me, you’ll wish you’d listened to my advice. 

If you happen to be a high-heeled goddess, I applaud you and say “go for it”… if you’re more of an “out for just an evening in heels/sitting at my desk” type of girl, don’t make a bad call. And make sure you break those puppies in; it’s a long day with blisters.

7) Work those arms 

This is true for both Bridesmaids and Brides alike. When you look at the photos, no one can see your beer belly (unless your dress is really tight, and that’s what spanks are for). What they see is your un-toned arms. 

There are so many “wedding arm workouts” available online! Take even just 15 minutes each day in the months leading up to work your arms a bit, you won’t be sorry!

8) Listen to and Distract the Bride 

It's incredibly likely that, unless your bride is a yoga master and is never ever freaked out, at some point she's gonna need to vent. Her mother, her fiancĂ©, her wedding planner, her seamstress, you... All of these things are points of stress sooner or later. 

Take some time in the months leading up to listen to your bride vent her frustrations, then distract her with stuff that has literally nothing to do with her wedding. She's probably tired of talking about it.

9) First on the floor, last to leave 

Part of being a stellar bridesmaid is to get the party started and keep the party going! If you get to attend cocktail hour, be sure to say hi to anyone you know and work the room. After the daddy-daughter dance, get your butt on the dance floor! Then don’t leave that dance floor until the bride and groom have left for the night. 

You've earned this party, and the (hopefully) open bar reception! No one wants a mopey bridesmaid who takes off at 11 pm because they’re “tired” or their “feet hurt”. Suck it up buttercup, I told you to wear shorter heels!

10) Send a thank you to the bride’s parents 

While your friend and her fiancĂ© have been planning, spending and agonizing over seating charts, often their parents are in the background helping every step of the way. 

Don’t forget to say thank you to the people who paid for your manicure, got you to the church, or helped find as many embarrassing childhood photos as they could for the slideshow. They’re not your parents, but they’re still important. Say thank you.

These events are fun, romantic and beautiful! Being asked to be a bridesmaid is really an honour, and you should treat it as such! 

Enjoy the ride, your friend only gets married once (hopefully) and you should want to make it as wonderful for them as possible. Just remember, what goes around comes around!

Some final moments with my best friend before she went down the aisle.. I cried... a lot.

Have you ever had the chance to be a bridesmaid? What were your observations about being part of your friend's (sister's/sister in law's, etc.) special day? Did you enjoy the experience or hope its something you only have to do ONCE! Let me know in the comments below!!

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