Always a Bridesmaid

Yesterday I published a post about all the weddings I’ve been to, and how I’ve kind of become a professional wedding guest. I mean…here is a picture of most of the wedding invitations I’ve collected over the past seven years..

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But I’ve also been in quite a few weddings, which is a whole different story! I’ve only been in five weddings, which I think is pretty typical for a young lady of our generation. Even if it’s not above average, I wanted to include a few tips I’ve learned along the way!

My first time I was asked to be a bridesmaid was in my friend Sophie’s wedding.

Suz & Sofie

This wedding was a Nigerien wedding, and so the customs and cultures were much different from an American one! In Niger, the bride picks out a type of cloth for everyone to get matching outfits made. Everyone who can afford to buy a new outfit usually gets an outfit made in this cloth, and the bridesmaids have their cloth made into the same outfit. Here was my outfit, specially picked for me:

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It even had pockets on the butt/thigh region! The bride’s Mama (who was like a second Mom to me) probably told the tailor to add some butt pockets so the poor white girl with a tiny butt had something back there. HAHA.

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Being a bridesmaid in a Nigerien wedding means that you are willingly locking yourself in the back room of the house with the bride, who is not allowed to go out and be seen. You all sit in a sweltering room and greet guests as they come in. You are responsible for getting the bride dressed, putting her makeup on her, receiving the guests, bringing the bride her food and water and just being her companion. Things get really fun around 10 pm at night when the groomsmen come to steal the bride. Yes, steal her away to her and her husbands new home. Then, the bridesmaids have a serious job: fool the groomsmen and pretend they are the bride so they take the wrong girl. Of course, this is made way easier when everyone is dressed in the same/similar outfit!

Suz, Sofie & friends

In Sophie’s wedding, when the men came, they all came on motorcycles and grabbed ALL of the bridesmaids. They had one car for the bride, but I’m pretty sure they each just grabbed a girl and threw her on the back of their motorcyles. It was a wild ride, let me tell you! When we arrived at the new house, Sophie had to go straight back into the back room and wait for her husband. Everyone else gets to go outside and dance on the makeshift “dance floor”, which looks more like a wrestling wring than a dance floor. The dancing and partying usually goes all night….and, no…the bride does not get to participate!

The next time I was a bridesmaid wasn’t until after I was married. I got married in 2012, and both Theo and I were the first of our friends to be married (although most followed suit that summer or soon thereafter lol).

That same summer, my soon to be sister-in-law Kelly asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, and of course I said YES! Theo was also a groomsman, so that was a whole lot of fun!

The following year, my friend Joy got married and I got to be in her wedding, too!!

Joy and I have been friends for a loooong time, so the this was such a special day for me. I may or may not have cried my eyes out the moment that she put her dress on. It just seems like we have grown up so fast, and I am so proud of the woman she has become. And I was just so dang happy for her. It was such a beautiful and fun day!

The next year it was Theo’s turn to be in two different weddings! He was in our friend Josh’s wedding and then his brother Isaiah’s wedding. I got to play a big part in both of those weddings, too. I was an “errand girl” and just stepped in to help whenever I could!

This past summer, I was asked to be in two different weddings! Of course I couldn’t say no!!!

Abby asked me to be in her wedding and I was so excited I cried. I have some amazing friends, and some amazing marriages that have been formed. I do not take it lightly when one of them asks me to stand right next to them on their special day. It’s such a privilege.

Tam called me right after she got engaged, which also happened to be right after I found out that I was pregnant (like, the same day). Before she could even ask me, I said: “Not October! I’m having a baby!” Thankfully, it all worked out and I was able to be there for Tam and Vince’s special day, too!

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And that is my experience being a bridesmaid!

Just like yesterday, I thought I would include several tips I’ve learned along the way:

  1. You are quite literally, the brides maid. I cannot say it enough: fulfill that responsibility to the bride! If she needs water, get it. If she needs to pee, hold the dress. If she needs to vent, let her. If she needs someone to go talk to her father-in-law about laying off the drinks, do it. Make sure that you have anything she might need on hand. The bride shouldn’t have to think or worry about anything but getting to her man and marrying him!
  2. Yes, it’s expensive. Suck it up. Honestly, being a bridesmaid is a huge expense. The dress, the shoes, the travel, the shower, the gifts, the bachelorette party, the lunch on the day of, the umbrella’s that you snag from CVS ’cause it looks like rain. It all adds up. Don’t whine, don’t fret, don’t fuss. Just do what you can do save money (only order an appetizer at the bachelorette party, make a hand-made gift, etc), and then you simply just roll with the rest. It’s sometimes unfortunate, but it’s life. And if they were in your wedding (or will be in your wedding), they did the same.
  3. Being a bridesmaid is so different from being a bride. Oh, man. I thought being a bride was exhausting. It is…but it’s a different type of work being a bridesmaid! Plus, you don’t get to go on a vacation the next day. If you have been a bride, but not a bridesmaid…keep this in mind when you get asked. It’s totally different from being a bride. It’s a lot more work and at the end of the day, there is no “reward”. Of course, the reward of being able to be there for your friend is so worth it, but it’s just not the same as the huge sigh of relief you breath when you leave the wedding as a bride.
  4. Whatever the bride wants. If you have been asked to be a bridesmaid, you will probably have a hand in the wedding planning, too. Usually the bride will ask opinions of her ‘maids and you are free to offer them. But if you get to the day of and feel like you need to offer your opinions on everything, just don’t. There are nice ways to make suggestions if you see the alter is crooked, but there are also nice ways to simply let the bride have her way and leave it at that. There is no need to add stress to the day by interjecting that you think “grandpa should be seated in row 2 instead of 3 because blah blah blah.” Nope. Just smile and make the bride look good.
  5. Your job as a bridesmaid does not end when the wedding is over. Our culture today sees weddings as one big party. I even read a book about being a bridesmaid that set up how to have the perfect hook-up at your friends wedding. That’s actually not what it’s about. Being a bridesmaid is about standing in front of several hundred people and saying “I support these two in marriage.” Then, it’s holding them accountable to their wedding vows. It’s checking up on them, and encouraging them when marriage gets tough. It’s rejoicing with them when marriage is fantastic. It’s so much more than dresses and champagne and maid of honor speeches. It’s committing your love and support and accountability to them and their marriage for the rest of their lives!

17 comments

  1. Aditi says:

    Loved this post! It’s great to be a part of a wedding in anyway … I haven’t been to many sadly 😔 Maybe soon …

    Loved ur tips on being a bridesmaid. Every “job” in life has its ups and downs

  2. Emily Lofgren says:

    I really like your tips, Suzanne – especially #5. Bridesmaid duties do not end after the wedding. That’s huge! Supporting the couple after the wedding is even more important than just on the day of the big event.

    How neat that you were in your first wedding in Niger! I was actually in a wedding in China when I lived there and it was a cool experience. Traditions are different and it’s always fun to hear how other cultures celebrate the joyous occasion.

  3. Mamaguru says:

    I’ve been maid of honor twice and a bride once. I think being a bride was much harder. I was definitely a better maid of honor (technically matron of honor) after having been a bride. I just had a good perspective of what works and doesn’t work and could relate to what the bride was feeling. It’s a huge favor to ask someone. I would never do it for someone I didn’t deeply love. But, of course, it was really wonderful to do it for my two best girls.

    • [email protected] says:

      Thanks for your comment, and I love that you have had a completely different experience than me! I think when I was a bride I just felt so pampered all day, and then I left for my honeymoon and had an amazing vacation! When I’ve been a bridesmaid, I have been on my feet serving people and scurrying around all day…and then the next day it’s back to work! I guess it’s just totally different, and I completely agree with you that being a bride has helped me gain perspective into how to be a bridesmaid!

      • Anna Gallop says:

        Being a bridesmaid might feel more like work, but the bride has so much going on emotionally and otherwise, so much she’s responsible for, never ending questions to answer, and has been planning and stressing for months/weeks. It’s way harder being a bride, from my perspective of once a bride, twice a bridesmaid, and never a maid of honor.

        • [email protected] says:

          Haha, apparently you aren’t the only to disagree with me on that one! Yes, there was tons of work leading up to my wedding, but on my wedding day I was so relaxed and everyone just served me. Haha. Then I left for a vacation! Each time I’ve been a bridesmaid it has involved high stress before, during and then the cleanup after…and then I usually have to either drive home or go to work the next day.
          But I guess that one is a total matter of opinion!

  4. Patricia says:

    Ihave had the honor of being a bridesmaid or maid of honor quite a few times and I absolutely agree with all of your tips. I love this post a lot and I really enjoyed learning about the African customs that you participated in! I’m so glad you shared!

  5. Elise says:

    This is absolutely one of the best posts I’ve read ever, but also about being a bridesmaid and what you should expect as one. I’m new to your blog, and this is so helpful – I think bridesmaids can go down the path of resentment, and your advice to suck up the bad, enjoy the good and then take on the responsibility is fantastic. Thank you for this!

    XO,
    Elise
    http://www.bellemeetsworld.com

  6. Innana Canon says:

    Beautiful pictures! I too have been a bridesmaid quite a few times already and know all the ins and outs. I do agree, it can be very expensive…but there’s really no way around it!

  7. Kassie says:

    This is such a nice post! I’ve loved being a bridesmaid, it’s always nice to be a part of the most important day of someone you care’s about life! Loved learning about the Nigerian wedding. So interesting!

  8. Lauren says:

    I love this! I found out I was pregnant the month after my best friend had chosen her wedding date. My due date was 3 days later! And I lived across the country. I was really sad. But their day was beautiful!

  9. Jennifer Hamra says:

    I think it’s so cool that you were able to experience a wedding from a different culture! One of my close friends is originally from Cameroon. I enjoy learning about her culture and the very beautiful traditional clothing. I haven’t had the opportunity to be a bridesmaid yet. I can imagine it gets expensive, but from your beautiful photos, it looks like it is also a very honorable experience.

  10. Kelsi H says:

    I love this post! I got married last year and had only 3 bridesmaids and was so so conscious about what I asked them to do and what to spend. To the point where they almost had an intervention on me to make sure I was getting them to help out haha. I love the list you’ve made! Also your photos of the Nigerian wedding are beautiful. What a memory!

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