(Illustration credit: Diana Urquhart)
No one really prepares you for the reality of it. How heavy that damn dress is going to be. How you better not let your smile slide for even one millisecond, or the photographer is going to make faces at you. The silly conversations with strangers as you wait for the next act. I’m not talking about a beauty pageant. This, my friends, is the sphinx in the labyrinth of your midtwenties: being a bridesmaid.
Now clearly I’m more along the lines of the Kristen Wiig bridesmaid, hopefully complete with a drug induced flight meltdown and a French cookie smashing. I suppose we’ll see. This past November, a dear friend of mine was engaged. Her fiancé drew her up on a stage and proposed in front of an audience. You can even check them out on YouTube.
My boyfriend and I met them for dinner that night, and the potential romance of the evening was rather abruptly squashed with my choice of restaurant: a tacky barbeque place with margaritas the size of my head. She surprised us with the news, as well as her request: that I be her bridesmaid. With that, my order just became Texas-sized with as many additional shots I could take without having myself a hangover coolatta.
Being a diehard romantic in cynic’s clothing, I can comfortably admit that we’ve all most likely had some degree of that fantasy. The wedding, the dress, where the music will enter and the credits will roll, the whole shebang. I stress, however, the varying degrees. After having participated in a wedding two years ago at which I spent the bulk of my night tugging up an ill fitting dress (let’s just say they don’t speak ‘flat chested’ in some bridal shops) and deciding to make the best of it by starting conga lines with my best guy friend and a conclave of the elderly, my fantasies are admittedly a bit skewed. Hearing that she wanted me to be a part of this picture perfect occasion was jarring. Wonderful and so happy to be there, but jarring just the same.
As I sat there appreciating my ability to multitask between ordering a drink and mentally panicking over all this wedding was going to entail, it finally hit me. It doesn’t matter. Any of it. Sure its stressful, and yes, you can basically guarantee the fact that the dress simply will not fit well, you will be forced to do a shot at the bachelorette party named after someone’s genitalia, and you will have a hell of a time trying to plan something that will make everyone happy. But in the end, it’s not about them. I glanced over at the couple, so blissfully happy with their Honeymooners-esque banter and her covert glances down at her engagement ring. All of the insanity suddenly made sense to me because it was all for them.
When you’re a bridesmaid, you’re doing it for the girl that needs that boost of confidence on the day when she makes the ultimate in game changing decisions. She held your hair, nursed you through a break up, and told you the boss was a moron when you didn’t get that promotion. The incredible thing is that in some way, being there for her is a chance to pay her back for everything she has done that mattered to you. Are there going to be days of, ‘Oh god. Seriously?’ Absolutely. Most likely even bigger than that, if we’re being realistic. It’s all for someone who you know deserves the fairytale, and you will do your very best to make it happen. But chin up, ladies. We’re going into the abyss, and there are apparently penis-shaped refreshments.