Brides and Bridesmaids: A reality check

I admit it: I love wedding stuff. I could sit all day and look at wedding pictures of people I know (or…um…don’t know), I was among the “losers” up at 6 am to watch the Royal Wedding (Don’t judge me! The pomp and circumstance and excess was like cultural fudge brownies to me…I couldn’t resist!), and I have literally hours of DVR’d episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC. I’ve been married for five years, but I still love the process of watching the “look” and general feel and ambiance of a wedding come together.

Now, the emotional aspects of a wedding…ehhhhh, I’m just not that into it. Okay, I’m sorta into it, but I really hate crying in public and I do it more than I’d like already (ask anyone who goes to church with me about the Father’s Day service this year – it was brutal). You know, though – the lovey-dovey stuff, the happy couple gazing into one another’s doe-eyes as a love song plays (or is sung, sometimes by someone really great, but also sometimes sung by a female relative who – in the words of Niecey Nash, “angry sings” and who only performs one song in the key of Allison Krauss)…where were we?

Oh, sorry, I’m just not that into it. I’ve been married for five years now and have experienced buying a house and recovering from childbirth and dog poop, baby poop, “Push Hemorrhoids” (Google those – fun times), terrible stomach flu bouts, rehashing childhood issues, threatening divorce (it only happened once, in a Mexican restaurant at lunchtime back in 2007, and I cringe anytime I think about it – not our finest moment), roadside arguments on Christmas Day, etc. alongside my dear hubs. Frankly…that moment with the love song and the dresses and all that is just not a good overall representation of marriage. It’s a beautiful moment, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like pre-race banana before you run an ultramarathon. Far too many people look at marriage as a “finish line,” when really it’s the very first step in a really, really, really, reaaaaaaally long run.

Our first dance was “What a Wonderful World,” mostly because the one thing I forgot to coordinate prior to my wedding was what the first dance and father-daughter dances would be – DOH! (For the record, the father-daughter dance was “My Girl,” which still makes me cry). Five years into it, I now think U2’s “With or Without You” would be the best first dance song ever, because that, my friends, is marriage in a nutshell. If you can learn to accept each other, love one another unconditionally, and neither cheat nor beat each other…well, that’s the best thing you can ask for. There are days where you have to fight real hard not to throw your husband’s cell phone in the exact way so that it misses his head by about 5 inches (not that we’ve ever had that happen at our house…). “With or Without You” perfectly captures the essence of marriage, even in its finest forms. If you get one like I did – where you would much prefer the former to the latter, then you’re especially lucky!

That said, I am always happy to see friends and loved ones walk down the aisle/wait at the altar! But those long song segments, along with any ceremony that involves combining sands or types of jello or different colored prescription meds or whatever is hot this season always make me squirm as if the entire room was watching a video of Katie Couric’s colonoscopy. Tres uncomfortable. Just light some candles and let’s get this show on the road.

And since watching an obscene amount of a specific show or type of show, having been a bridesmaid before (and always in something with a bow – I’m just not a “bow in front” type of person and we all know it), and having been married myself all equate to me being an expert, I’m thinking it’s high-time for me to exercise my inner Emily Post and establish my own set of wedding etiquette suggestions. Oh, and I’m Southern. That’s, like, the equivalent of a PhD in wedding practices, right? No?

Let me preface this by saying that 1) no actual brides were harmed in the making of this post, and 2) this is directed not at the sane, down-to-earth brides of the world, but at the crazed and self-absorbed set (who seem to be the only ones that appear on cable television, oddly enough). So don’t get your Spanx in a twist, ladies!

Here are my tips for throwing a wedding that will not result in your ultimate demise, ruin your friendships, or leave you with even more reasons to consult a professional therapist:

  • Brides and bridesmaids: Passive-aggression is a tool that must be used carefully, so try not to pull out the big guns. All you brides, yes, it is YOUR DAY. We get it. But you need to consider how realistic it is going to be to ask 12 bridesmaids ranging across 15 sizes and 10 years of age to all settle on the same dress, and while we get that you think “coffee and cream” is a great wedding theme, that color your looking at for these poor ladies’ dresses is what I like to call “cellulite” or “flesh-colored pantyhose,” not “Mocha” or “Latte” or “Pale Nude.”

    The only people who look good in those dresses are…well, the only ones I can think of were those in the ’07 wedding of my friend Jade Fender Cahoon. That is the one wedding – ONE! – where the nude-colored dress was done well, and it was because the bride picked a shade that was dark enough to suit her light-caucasian colored wedding party AND the cut was impeccable. Everybody’s boobs looked amazing, and I mean that in a completely straight sort of way. But that’s a rarity. For most girls, a tea-length, flesh-colored bridesmaid dress with a bevy of Washingtonian chest rufflies is really just going to prevent your single bridesmaids from sealing the deal with any of the hot groomsmen. Don’t be that girl. I would caution you all about yellow, also. “Butter,” a color that I myself have worn (Alfred Angelo, if you need reference for the hideousness), is really just a way to say to your friends and loved ones “The uglier you look, the better!” Please, please, please, for the love of all womankind, consider jewel tones, vibrant shades, tastefully done pastels, and black or navy as a first possibility before you move to colors that mimic back fat and jaundiced babies. K thx.

  • Bridesmaids: Recognize that it’s the bride’s day (don’t worry, if you forget this fact, she will remind you a few times for good measure – I did! *blushes in shame*). Do your best to be a duck and let any drama roll off your back, but also remember that it’s okay to have your “limit.” Now, let’s practice! For example, if the bride suggests a pale baby blue color that you feel washes you out, try it on, smile, and offer suggestions if asked for your opinion. Whether you will be asked for your opinion is a matter of what kinds of friends you have, so keep this in mind during any and all social interactions with other women – i.e., ask yourself – “Is Sally the kind of girl who would put me in an asymmetrical-hem, ombre chiffon, one-shouldered, chain-belted tie-dye bridesmaids dress AND ask me to foot the $210 bill for it?” If your answer is yes, perhaps you should consider that Sally actually wants to kill you, ya know, subconsciously.

    Here’s another exercise: if Sally insists on the pale blue designer dress that you makes you look like you’re about six months along and have attached your breasts to your knees, which costs you half a month’s salary, DO NOT – I REPEAT, DO NOT – voice how much you hate the dress. This will do nothing but make you look like a First Class A-Hole with jealousy issues. Act like you freaking love that hideous dress. Do it. But discuss privately with your bride, before you even start looking at bridesmaids dresses, that you have a set budget for what you can afford for the dress. That way, if the bride chooses to select a $400 bridesmaid dress (I know, I can’t believe they exist either) even when you’ve already stated that you can only afford $150, she’ll know that the other $250 is hers to cough up. If she doesn’t like it, play the recession card like there’s no tomorrow (“I’m sorry, Sally, I wish I could live without water and electricity, but I just can’t do it! Forgive me for my selfishness! I STILL LOVE YOU!!”).

  • Brides AND bridesmaids: Now, listen carefully. This may not be the way it is in your world (in which we’re just living, I understand, okay, okay…), but in the rest of the world, money is an object, and a finite one at that. I actually saw a bride on TV the other day, whilst bludgeoning her plebian servants selecting bridesmaids dresses with her sorority sisters, insisting that if she went over budget to buy her wedding gown, her girls needed to go over budget to purchase the tackyriffic frock she wanted them to wear (it was a nice color, at least). Her line? “Can’t get the dress, just be a guest.” I found myself muttering at the TV “How ’bout they just give your whole wedding the finger and find a better friend, eh, Princess?” The truth is that being a bridesmaid, 8 out of 10 times, sucks, especially if it’s a summer wedding in the South (I’m sorry, Jessica, Dina, Jill, Jenna, and everyone else who attended my outdoor June wedding…I would change it to fall if I could do it over again. But hey, at least we all lost 5 lbs. of water weight that night! Huzzah!).

    SO many issues can crop up in the process of selecting gowns for the entire wedding party (especially if it’s a lesbian wedding. I kid, I kid). It’s difficult to find one dress style to flatter both a size 0 and a size 20. It’s impossible to get 15 girls to shop for dresses at a time when less than half of them will be in the middle of “their special time.” It’s probably illegal to Xanax your entire wedding party prior to shopping without at least hinting that that isn’t a Tic-Tac, else that would be my first suggestion. And while it would be great for your wedding budget if your maids would just silently foot the bill for any dress you chose, it’s really more fair to come to this point: if the bride is footing the bill for the dresses, she should have a large portion of the say-so in the matter of what dress is chosen. But if the bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dress (on top of throwing showers, bachelorette parties, and getting a wedding gift that isn’t completely crappy), then darn it, there should be a little compromise. Seems to me that the world is producing a large contingent of entitled princesses, on both sides of the aisle (or alter…whatever).

  • Mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom: Try to remain as neutral as possible. When you sit there during the process of watching your daughter try on gowns, know that comments like “You look like a cumulus cloud” or “Is this a shotgun wedding, cause that dress yells ‘Knocked Up!'” are neither helpful not funny. Mothers of the groom, the dress may be ivory. Get over it. There’s a 99.5% chance that neither your son nor his intended have yet to perform the horizontal tango. Ivory will do, if that’s what the bride wants. If your doing this out of some insecurity about your status as a mother of the bride, realizing that you’re not as young as you once were, think of Diane Keaton in “Father of the Bride.” That is your goal, ladies. Graceful, cool, calm, shaking your head as the madness around you *almost* prevents you from being super awesome (but not quite). 

Am I making sense here, chilluns’? I hope so. My only real piece of advice for the men that get mixed up in all this crazy wedding stuff is to start drinking now as to up their tolerance by the time the real poop hits the fan.

On second thought, I’m pretty sure Emily Post would be shaking her head and pouring herself a drink after reading this, but that’s okay by me. Really, I think the best wedding ever is the one that is just the bride and groom, on a beach in Hawaii, married by a local minister, then jumping in the surf to celebrate. That’s what my friend Liz and her husband Greg did, and I still think it’s the most brilliant wedding ever – and nobody had to wear a cellulite-colored dress.

2 thoughts on “Brides and Bridesmaids: A reality check

  1. You crack me up. Every word is true. Im in a wedding this Sept and the dress was 260 not including alterations….
    If I could go back, I would do something along the lines of what Miranda Lambert did with her bridesmaids: Give them a color and a length and let them have fun with it. Patterns…flowers…whatever goes. And it looks so good!
    And your wedding was the best ever. Such a great time!


  2. Me too, girl! I put my girls in black halter dresses that were knee-length and pretty simple (Well, you were there, you know). But if I hadn't done black, I would've just let them each pick their own dress type in one color of family of colors. I had a 13 yr. old, a 22 yr. old, and a 35 yr. old, in sizes ranging 0 to 12…very wide range! But we bought the dresses for them as a bridesmaid gift of sorts, which I think really helped keep the peace. It was so low drama.


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