Wedding Wednesday: How being a bridesmaid helped me plan my wedding
If there is one thing I know how to do, it's be a bridesmaid.
I'm one of those girls that is ALWAYS in a bridal party. I have a love-hate relationship with the job, but ultimately when I'm up there on my friend's special day (crying. always crying.) I really do feel that it is an honour to be there.
For all of that though, when I got engaged, the #1 upside to being a bridesmaid so many times?
I knew EXACTLY what I wanted, and didn't want out of my wedding.
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese! And I have to say that in my 5 pre-wedding bridesmaid stints, I've collected a lot of delicious cheddar... er... ideas on what works (and doesn't) at a wedding, and also how I wanted to behave as a bride.
So let's break it down, bridesmaid style!
1) Expecting help from your maids, your mom, your fiancé...
People offering to help out with stuff is SO kind. I've stuffed an envelope or two (or 50) in my day... but I've also skipped appointments because I had other things to do.
No one cares more about your wedding than you do. People have other commitments, and you can't expect that anyone will be at your beck and call to get stuff done.
If they offer, that's wonderful! But don't expect it. You can maybe expect a little more help from your parents/fiance, but even there you may find yourself doing most of it.
If you want a guaranteed helper, hire an event planner.
2) What not to wear, what to wear, and how to find out
I've been dress shopping with many a bride. Every one of them had a "vision" as to what they wanted to wear... and everyone of them ended up in something different.
My friend who wanted princess, went trumpet. My friend who wanted slinky and sexy went FULL ballgown. My most decisive friend ended up returning her first dress and getting a second one!
My point is, wedding dress shopping is confusing. There are too many options and you only get to walk down the aisle in one of them. Try on everything with an open mind before you start narrowing down your choices. You might be surprised by what you like!
Also: another "what not to wear/what to wear"... make sure your bridesmaids feel pretty. Pick a colour they like and be conscious of their body types! They're your friends, not your props.
3) Food. Then some food... and maybe after that more food.
I don't know why people keep saying to me "well you don't want to have TOO much food!"
Yes. Yes I do. There is NOTHING worse than being hungry at a wedding, because you have no options to get more food. I have been at that wedding, I have been IN that wedding, it sucks.
I would much rather have some of the food go uneaten, than have people leaving early so that they can order a pizza.
Also, check in with your vegetarian guests. If you have some options for a veggie meal, run it by them so that they are happy with what you pick (and so that you can be sure it's enough food!)
4) Put your sanity first
Know yourself. Know your stress trigger points up ahead as you get closer to the day, or on the day.
Know that your makeup artist can cover a zit. Know how you will react if you're stuck in traffic on the way to the church because you didn't stay near by. Know that if you don't have a snack at 2pm, you will sulk/pass out/rage at some point during the evening.
Know yourself, and then make plans to alleviate every single one of those stress points.
(I had a zit the day of my trial, covered! I booked a hotel near my venue, no stress! My MOH is on snack duty, that's love!)
I've seen so many meltdowns in the last 10-days, 2-days, 24-hours. I've seen a bride slip into shock right before her walk down the aisle, I've seen a bride furious at her guests in the days leading up, I've seen a bride frantically writing a speech on the morning of her wedding. I've also seen relaxed and prepared brides having the time of their lives because their MOH brought snacks.
Maybe the advice here is bring snacks...
5) Flowers - mix up that DIY and Professional flair
Flowers are expensive, they were easily the most expensive thing quoted for my wedding (aside from the venue/food costs). I couldn't believe what even just MY bouquet ran.
I love the florist I picked, I think she's going to do an amazing job... but I'm only having her do handheld/worn flowers, and the arrangement for the head table.
Everything else, we're DIY-ing with Costco wholesale flowers, vases we ordered in bulk, and easy-buy supplies from any garden centre, Walmart or dollar store... It's going to cost us less than 1/3 the price to do it this way.
We're saving a boat load on centrepieces because of this. It's a bit of extra work, but we did this for a wedding recently and it was SUCH a fun activity the day before the wedding. Making centrepieces, drinking Starbucks (and champagne) and then getting post-flower manicures. I loved it, and everything looked beautiful.
6) Skip the cake
Seriously. No one eats it.
I have never once eaten wedding cake at a wedding. This is not because I don't like cake, but because no one ever serves wedding cake at a wedding... because all venues serve dessert.
I don't want dessert and THEN cake. If you must cut something, cut something small and make it ceremonial, don't bother with a big one that is a waste of INSANE amounts of money that no one really wants.
"But Laura!" I hear you say "What if we get cupcakes instead!"
Yep, been in not one, but TWO weddings that went that route, the "cupcakes are here if you want them, just crab them"
In both instances, only about 5 cupcakes got eaten, and the rest were taken home by the B&G at the end of the night. Seriously. Just skip the cake. It's as dead as bouquet tosses and flash mobs.
7) (Not so) open mic nights
Please.... please.... for the love of all that is holy do NOT have an open-mic policy at your wedding. Don't let anyone but designated speakers, the DJ and your MC touch the mic.
Open mic speeches go on WAY too long and are often super awkward because they haven't been thought out ahead of time (not ideal... and presumably fuelled by alcohol)
Also, don't shove all your speeches at the end of the night. Disperse them through dinner so that when dessert is done, the dancing can begin!
8) Skip the fancy shoes
No one sees them, they're uncomfortable, you end up taking them off to wear something else before the end of the night.
My sister-in-law wore adorable flats to her wedding. She might just be a genius. I went with an inexpensive navy kitten heel, but (like my friend Emily did) I plan on changing into some sweet kicks after the first dance.
9) Be AGGRESSIVE about your dress fittings
When you're at your fitting, and your dress doesn't feel quite right.. channel your inner bridezilla.
Now, I'm not saying rage around the store and demand that the seamstress magically create a dress bibiddi-bobbidi-boo... but I am saying to be honest and get real about the fit.
I've had friends holding up their dress all night because it didn't fit right. I've had friends who got talked into a bad bustle that kept coming undone. I've had friends who had HORRIBLE bruises because the dress was digging into their sides.
The cost of altering a wedding dress is not insignificant. Be your own best advocate so you feel beautiful AND comfortable on the big day.
10) Get the vendor's numbers
I saved the best tip for last: GET THE VENDOR INFO OF THE PEOPLE YOU LIKED FROM YOUR FRIEND'S WEDDINGS! I can't even tell you how much time it will save you when you get around to planning.
Vendor selection is a stab in the dark. It's mostly just hours of staring at websites trying to decide which style of photographs will best capture your wedding day. If you've been in a wedding where you loved the photographer's attitude and work, or the makeup artist did an incredible job on your face, or the flowers looked like angels made them, BOOK THAT VENDOR.
Granted, if you and your friend's budget are hugely different, you may need to make some difficult choices (or do more dreaded vendor research) but don't be afraid to use someone just because your friend did. Recommendations are the best way to find people who will do great work, and sometimes they even give you a discount if you're coming through another bride. SO worth it!
Question time: Have you ever been in a wedding? What did you learn from the experience? Were you a bridesmaid before you got married, after? Let me know!
xxox - Laura