According to the National Vital Statistics System, there are more than 2 million marriages in the United States every year. That’s a lot of weddings! Once you reach a certain age, it seems like a friend is getting married every time you turn around. It’s practically inevitable that someone is eventually going to pop the question — and ask you to be a bridesmaid.
After more than a few strolls down the aisle as a bridesmaid, I’ve learned a thing or two. Weddings are, by their very nature, emotional times. Navigating them successfully takes a little finesse, but following three simple rules will help.
Do talk to the bride
Weddings aren’t cookie cutter affairs. They run the gamut from fancy formal affairs in far-off locations to casual cookouts in the backyard after a trip to the courthouse. Before you agree to anything, find out what the bride is planning — and exactly what she is asking of you.
If you agree to be a bridesmaid, expect to keep talking. A lot. Most weddings involve tons of decisions. Throw in the varying opinions of the wedding couple and their respective families, and you’ve got an emotional pressure cooker. From the moment you agree to be a bridesmaid until you wave the happy couple off on their honeymoon, be ready to listen whenever the bride needs a friendly ear, to offer opinions if asked, and to step in with help where you’re needed.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
Whatever you do, do not make promises you can’t keep. Think before you agree to anything. Do you have the time, the money and the skill to really keep your promise?
Your friend might be disappointed if you say no, but that is nothing compared to her friendship-ending fury if you’re the reason her carefully orchestrated wedding plans fall apart. Whether it’s hot-gluing a cake stand together, picking up a special guest from the airport, or simply wrapping two hundred bottles of bubbles in tulle and ribbon, if you promise you’ll do something, do it.
Remember it’s not about you
The color of your bridesmaid dress isn’t your favorite and one of your fellow bridesmaids drives you up the wall. So what? This isn’t about you. This is about supporting your friend and making her wedding day special. If you’re truly uncomfortable with something, then speak up. But, if it isn’t going to matter a decade from now, let it go. Show up, smile and have a good time celebrating your friend’s happiness.
Big or small, weddings are important. As a bridesmaid, you have the chance to help a friend celebrate a milestone event in her life. To do the job right, you’ll need to talk and listen, fulfill any promises you make, and respect the bride’s right to make her own decisions. When you really think about it, being a good bridesmaid is actually very similar to being a good friend.