Your friend gets engaged. You’re thrilled. The ring’s gorgeous. He’s one of the best ones, the Good Guy boyfriend you rooted for. Your friend can’t stop smiling and she has the dewy-Victoria’s Secret model look about her. You love her so much you don’t even care that she posted the cliched “my best friend asked and I said yes” Facebook post and 67 pictures of the ring.
Everyone’s just so happy. Then she asks you to be a bridesmaid. You’re so honoured. Out of all of her 1157 Facebook friends you made the Top Eight and get to be In The Wedding. Yay.
But here’s the thing. Being a bridesmaid isn’t actually that much fun. For many reasons. So many, in fact, that I’ve made a list.
It’s Basically a Full Time Job
The bride gets the ring, the dress, multiple parties, the great professional photos of herself with professional hair and professional makeup, the husband at the end of it all – someone to build a life with. And what do you get? You get to work really hard planning event after event, keeping the one Whatsapp group with the bride in it up to date with hilarious wedding-memes and photos of dress inspiration, as well as that other, secret bridesmaids-only Whatsapp group where you all passive-agressively try to get your bachelorette theme and venue to win out while appearing sweet and team-player-ish. You make playlists and theme suggestions and add to the shared Pinterest boards for everything. You go with to scout venues, to look for dresses, shoes, napkin rings, and so many other things you didn’t even know were things.
It’s So Expensive
While you’re navigating the social politics between the families and friends involved while holding your tongue, not expressing your real feelings, not only are you not getting paid for your hours and hours of work, but you actually get to fork out a shitload of money. For engagement and bachelorette gifts, venue hire, approximately one million bottles of champagne and jugs of frozen margarita, Ubers, dress-up clothes, penis-shaped straws, sailor hats…
You Have to Do the Public Speaking
You probably have to make a toast at the engagement party. One where you pretend you haven’t been the most important person in her life for the last 12 years, holding her hair back when she tequila-vommed and buying her chocolate and flowers for every breakup. Telling her how hot she looks in her freakum dress and that yes, of COURSE she can pull off lavender hair. Now you have to pretend that actually this knight in shining armour has been her Best Friend (she already said it on Facebook AND Instagram, so it’s real now) all along. That sucks.
Wedding Dress Shopping
Probably the second-worst day of your bridesmaiding experience, the Wedding Dress Shopping day (or daysssss). Now, the bride thinks she wants your opinion. She does not, in fact, want your opinion. Especially if she’s unicorns and sparkles and you’re all chilled and boho. Or you’re into cutting edge fashion and know all about the latest Marchesa couture bridal range and what a genius Zuhair Murad is with illusion dresses, and she still wears bootleg jeans and an Ed Hardy tee. What she wants to hear is that there’s never been a bride more beautiful. That her waist is so small you can’t even see her and that her boobs look SO great but no, not TOO sexy for a wedding. Perfect, really, like a princess. She’s a princess. Then throw in the fact that there’s normally a bossy sister, a blunt bridesmaid who didn’t get the memo about the princess line, a mom who’s upset her darling isn’t wearing her old dress and-and a future mom-in-law who thinks R27 000 for a dress is ridiculous (she’s not wrong). And champagne. there’s always champagne. Thank god for that small mercy. Drink up.
Bridesmaid Dress Anything
Who loves wearing matching outfits as an adult? Anyone? Anyone? No. You thought you’d seen the back of those days when you chucked out your Matric blazer. Now throw in strapless situation (hello? have you heard of boobs) and insipid colour (no you don’t look great in buttercup yellow) and inevitably end up standing up next to that one bridesmaid who used to be a model. But that’s not the worst part…
The Three-Days-Before Freak-Out
It might be three months, three weeks or three days before the wedding, but inevitably, the hardest part of being a bridesmaid will happen. The Happy Couple will fight over the mother-in-law’s dress or whether someone’s ex should be invited, or the cost of the centrepieces and BOOM, meltdown. You’ll listen to her wonder if this fight means they shouldn’t get married. Is she ready for this kind of commitment? She can’t even keep her Gelish colour for the full two weeks, how is she going to be with this one person until she does? Or is it all just silly and the stress of the whole thing and of course he’s wonderful and they’re perfect together. Here’s the worst part. You don’t know the answers. You can’t tell her how much doubt you should have before you take the leap. You can’t tell her he’s the one and they’ll be gloriously happy together. This isn’t like all those boyfriend conversations – this one is forever, and what you say to her now has real consequences. You’ll say that, you’ll both cry and you’ll be even better friends. Then you’ll realise that actually, you’re not really losing her. You’ve been in the trenches with her and you’re closer than ever. And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.