Always a Bridesmaid: Tips for Being the Best

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I’m a serial bridesmaid. I’ve been involved in approximately 23 weddings. That total would be a bit more, but three of my best friends from childhood eloped or only had one attendant. Typically, I wear my weekend title with honor and try to act with some decorum. Like, I’ll limit myself to only six glasses of white wine at the reception, when I really want 12. Being a bridesmaid is a lesson in patience and expectations. There are a few rules one must follow. Bridesmaids, these tips are for you! Brides, you could pass these out as a list of your expectations.

Do things when asked. If your bride told you to order a size 22 bridesmaid dress by a certain date a certain way, do it. If you don’t agree with the dress choice or the size choice– good news! No one cares what you look like walking down the aisle. They care if you look like a hot mess, but past that, just order the dress and go with it.

Show up. This one gets sticky when you’re an out of town bridesmaid, but do what you can. Show up to as many wedding events as possible. The wedding shower hosted by the bride’s mom’s best high school friends may seem like a waste of a Sunday afternoon to you, but it’s important to someone, so get your wedges on and smile.

Show up on time. This one can’t be stressed enough. When it’s wedding weekend time no one cares that you couldn’t find your clutch or you were totally sucked into a “Real Housewives” marathon and lost track of time. There’s being that bridesmaid and there’s the bridesmaid everyone is actually mad at all weekend because they are selfish.

[UPDATE: Watch this story’s author on HLN News!]

Smile. Don’t ever stop smiling. This is two-fold. First, you need to look excited all weekend for about 12,000 reasons. Second, cameras are everywhere during a wedding. If you’re going to end up in 87 newly tagged photos on Monday morning, you might as well look happy.

Do the terrible “Charlie’s Angel” pose because you love your friend. I know, right? This just means when the photographer tells you to hold hands with your assigned groomsman and giggle, do it. If you’re asked to stand at the back of every photo, do it. Also, be prepared to take pictures for approximately 8 hours on the actual wedding day. Tone those arms now.

Know what you’re doing. Eight out of 10 times, someone has asked you to be in their wedding because they value you as a friend and they want you around for a really long time. If you don’t agree with this or absolutely do not support the marriage, say no to standing at the altar with the happy couple. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, but mostly you’re standing up there pledging your love and support to these two people. If you don’t love or support them, don’t spend $200 on a teal taffeta dress (because even with the best attitude you can’t wear it again).

Budget, budget, budget. Weddings are expensive. Though it is considerably less expensive to be a bridesmaid than a bride, it’s still pricey. Know upfront you’ll be asked to drop some cash. Do the best you can with this. Hopefully, you’ll get to ask someone to spend $800 on a trip to Tunica for your bachelorette party someday, too.

Work the crowd. This is one of the most difficult tasks of being a bridesmaid. When you get to the reception, you need to get the other wedding guests excited and ready to celebrate. You might be the only person on the dance floor for 30 minutes, but you might luck out and get a fun dance out of the bride’s second cousin. This is usually the part of the night that everyone will ask you if you’re drunk, so do your very best to not be.

All the single ladies. The bouquet toss has always been interesting, but it got more interesting in 2009 when Beyonce released “All the Singles.” Wedding DJs across the globe celebrated because they had a new way to terrorize young (and old) single women into participating in the bouquet toss (I’m never mad at Beyonce for anything, but when I hear this song, I get a little frustrated with her). If you have to do it, get front and center. Meaning, if you have to box out the bride’s single grandmother– do it. Be the Karl Malone of the bouquet toss.

Have fun. A good attitude can make up for almost anything. There will come a point when it’s time to dance. At this moment, it’s okay to have fun and ask for a little bit (very little) of attention, especially if you’ve got moves. And if you’re spending a Saturday evening wearing a $234 dress that you’ll never wear again, WEAR THAT THING OUT!

Being a bridesmaid is a tough job. Thankless, even. But, usually when your bride is back from her honeymoon and reflecting on that special weekend, she’s thinking about how much fun she had celebrating her big day with her favorite people, one of them being you. All in all, just act right.