For someone who has never been married and isn’t getting married anytime soon, I think I have the lockdown on wedding how-to after 2010. I was invited or played a major role in 10 weddings. TEN in ’10… fingers crossed that I never have that whirlwind again. While it was amazing to be included in the special day for so many people that I love, it was a bit much for one year. Since I am now an EXPERT on how to execute a wedding, I thought I would share the top NINE things I learned from the experience.
- The Mary Poppins Bag is a must have
Who doesn’t love this movie and that bag? It started out as a mention from a work friend a few years ago… a makeup bag with some emergency items in it. By the time my the whirlwind ended, I had upgraded mine to a full on Mary Poppinsesque magic bag. You needed an emergency hem? I not only had a sewing kit, but steam seam tape. Kiddies in the bridal party need to be occupied? Out of the giant pink bag come playing cards, coloring books and crayons. Is a little liquid courage needed before facing the photographer and a chapel full of people? Mini bottles of vodka were on hand, complete with single packets of lemonade mix to make a cool drink. You can laugh all you want, but it was used at every wedding by multiple people. I won’t be in a wedding without my hot pink Mary Poppins bag now!
- There is no BAD cake (or pie for that matter)
Seriously, I ate a lot of damn cake this past year. From bridal showers to the actual wedding day I had yellow cake, chocolate cake, red velvet cake, strawberry/amaretto/lemon/malt ball/peanut butter/ name your flavor cake. I ate cupcakes, monogrammed sugar cookies, and chocolate dipped brownies on a stick. I even had wedding pie (pecan and lemon meringue). I thought it was cute how each couple did their own unique little thing that fit their personality. You would think after all of this that I would be sick of cake, at one wedding I was literally serving the cake to hundreds of people as fast as I could hand it out (this group also had pie, I was surprised how fast the cake went after they had all devoured the pies on their tables) but I am still not sick of wedding cake. A highlight of having been in so many weddings, is that I did a lot of clean up and packing at the end of the night, which means that I took home a very large piece (or pieces) of cake at most of the weddings, which made a great breakfast for the rest of the week!
- Having the bitch reputation has its benefits
I think I would describe myself as tenacious or determined. Others may say that I am intimidating, forceful or even a downright bitch. Whatever, you say potato, I say patattah. While this isn’t always the best reputation to have, it did work for me in midst of this madness. If there was a problem with a seamstress- I was the one sent in to politely, yet firmly, remind her of all the headaches and blood pressure issues she was causing in failing to do her job. If the head server at the reception hall was being a jerk- I was nominated for the job of going and talking to her and getting what the bride wanted. If the DJ was stuck in the freeway in the ice storm, I was the one on the phone nicely demanding that he call everyone else in his company and seeing what they could do to safely get to the wedding. Not only did I get something done, which was nice to be able to do for my friends, but it provided an EXCELLENT source of venting for me during stressful times. Oh, and my continued public service announcement: DO NOT go to Fran’s Alterations if you are from mine and Gail’s hometown… worst service ever!
- Mothers of the Bride/Groom are….
Completely unpredictable. I think I saw the complete continuum of MOB/Gs… there was crying every minute mom, there was so laid back and carefree-happy mom, there was I am stressed and I am going to argue with you right now mom and even I am the drama queen mom. The funny part was, they could all be the same person within one wedding if conditions warranted. Similar to tornado, you never know when or how it will touch down or what it will do to the terrain!
- Do not underestimate the necessity of comfortable shoes
Seriously you are in the damn things for hours! Not only do they need to look adorable, be high enough to work with the length of the dress, but if you are a bridesmaid you need to stand in them for twenty plus minutes in front of a room full of people and not fidget. No small task thankyouverymuch. For one wedding I borrowed a pair so I wouldn’t have to buy a pair of champagne colored shoes that I would never wear again. They were cute, but I was in such pain I was crying when I got out of the ceremony. So, lesson learned: pick your shoes carefully. Even if you are going to flip flops later on… the shoes for the ceremony and the pictures matter.
- You must be a good actress… it may not mean life or death, and it may not win an academy award but it can mean the difference between content bride and crying bride.
And contrary to what my friends think, I actually can lie through my teeth with a smile on my face and you not know it. I am usually a pretty honest person, I don’t mind telling you what I think even if it is not what you want to hear… but I didn’t always do that this past year. Yes, there were times I am sure when my acting skills were not great, but I am 100% convinced that they were pretty dead on 90% of the time. None of my friends will never know how much they hurt my feelings time and time again, how I completely agreed with their parent about something they as the bride was opposed to, or what I really thought of their color/hair/dress/food/photographer/flowers/ etc… because you know what, what I thought about all of those topics really didn’t matter… it wasn’t my wedding. Now, I should point out that I never would have let any of my friends walk down an aisle in something I thought she didn’t look good in or that she would not like later on, but that doesn’t mean I loved everything they picked… but that is why it is THEIR wedding. Their day… their week and in cases, their months even… and hopefully I was able to support them the way they needed in that moment.
- Weddings are expensive for people who are in them
I was actually IN or I coordinated four weddings this year. Four weddings cost me over $4,800. Yes, go ahead and gasp… I did after I totaled it all up. That is NOT including gas money for the extensive driving that I did to get to said showers and weddings (but it does include airfare for one roundtrip flight). It also does not include money I spent on food while I was out of town and away from my apartment for long weekends or entire weeks and it does not include funds that I was reimbursed for. It also does not include ATM withdraws and receipts that I couldn’t find… so I am guessing this actual figure is somewhere over $5,000. The dress, alterations for the dress, hair-styling and make-up for the day, salon pampering afternoons, wedding and shower gifts, airfare, hotel stays, food for showers, the list goes on. So, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you my newlywed friends for never making me get dyed to match shoes or handbags… I for one appreciate the consideration to my wallet!
- You don’t actually get to talk to the people you want to talk to
Cute guy you want to flirt with, friend you haven’t seen in a year that you want to catch up with, an actual conversation with your mother about what she thought of the ceremony… not going to happen. By the time the last wedding came around, I had actually given up on trying to sit down and talk with people at the reception. It is nice in theory… you should have time to chat while eating dinner, or when not dancing… but it doesn’t happen. You start a conversation and have to dash off to take a picture of the bride and groom cutting the cake, or you have to go in for round fifteen with the witch on the catering team about why you need more plates to serve the cake- which they should have been doing for you, you are collecting all of the gifts and loading them into the car, re-bustling the bride’s train for the 12th time, holding her dress up while she uses the restroom or trying to make sure the right family members go home with the right centerpieces and have all gotten their into the family photo with the bride and groom. It is exhausting and before you know it, the night is over and all the people you had been excited about seeing are hugging you good-bye and all you had talked about was how nice you each looked and what the travel was like to get there.
- At the end of it all, you were there on a day that mattered
And really, for all the money, headaches, stresses, hurt feelings, ridiculous conversations about what type of paper to use, endless dress fittings that make you feel awful and talks about what proper etiquette is… at the end of the day I got to be there to help people that I love and I would, clearly, do just about anything for. While it may have been a stressful experience for me as a bridesmaid, none of it compares to the stress my friends went through in trying to make all of those decisions and work with budgets, parents and vendors… plus the realization that you are committing your entire life to someone, that is a big major life decision and all the wedding hoopla is just a symbol of it. I am happy that they love me enough to have asked me to be there to support them through a process that defines their futures and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
And those are my lessons learned from the whirlwind of 2010. Oh, and I that I need to write an etiquette book. So now I am off to hell on earth, also known as David’s Bridal to help another friend pick out her wedding dress!