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We Try It: Being A Bridesmaid

Just an FYI: There is a mention of clothing sizes in this piece.

I knew the time would come when my peers would stop dancing the “Single Ladies” dance and start swaying to first dances with their new spouses. But, I never thought it would be this soon! As a twenty something fresh out of college, I thought I’d be waiting until I was at least 26 or 27 before my friends started itching to put a ring on it. Imagine my surprise when the Facebook statuses popped up on my newsfeed — not my professional one where I follow lots of wedding pages as an event coordinator, but on my personal one — about proposals and wedding planning! And, imagine my even bigger surprise when 5 months ago a dear friend of mine asked me to be her bridesmaid…over SnapChat video. Big weddings and bridal parties may seem old fashioned, but the experience is changing with the times.

The first order of bridesmaid business was to “meet” the other ladies. We were all spread out: the wedding was going to be in Ventura County (West of Los Angeles, for all you non-Californians), the maid of honor and the bride were based in Northern California, one of the bridesmaids was in school on the East Coast, and I live in San Diego. Facebook messaging became our main method of communicating. We used it to share links to bridesmaid dresses, coordinate schedules for dress shopping and get-togethers, and pick our henna designs for the wedding. As someone who is constantly on Facebook, messaging there was much more convenient than burying the conversation in my email.

Choosing the bridesmaid dress was remarkably easy. The bride had very few requirements and we were allowed to choose the style of our dresses as long as they were all in the same color. Choosing bridesmaid dresses together was an excuse for us to try on as many pretty dresses as possible like an 80’s movie montage, complete with Cyndi Lauper in the background (okay, at least in my head). The hardest part was adjusting to dress sizing. Apparently, bridesmaid dress sizes are much smaller than they are in regular stores. Women’s clothing stores have wildly different sizing depending on where you go, so I usually rock anywhere from a size 6 to a size 12, which frustrates me to no end. My bridesmaid dress, however, was ordered in a size 14. It obviously wasn’t my job to unleash a feminist rant about the fashion and wedding industries in the bridal shop, so I mentally added that to my list of Reasons Why The Wedding Industry Is Problematic Despite The Fact That It Employs Me and waited patiently for my dress to arrive in the mail.

The weekend of the wedding included 3 nights of fun parties — a ladies only party to get our henna designs and sing to the maid of honor’s throwback playlist, another cozy family affair after the ceremony at her mosque, and the big one — a beautiful 200 person dinner reception complete with a zaffa. In Arab culture, the zaffa is a large celebratory wedding procession with drums, flutes, belly dancing, and LOTS of dancing. I thought I would be walking slowly down an aisle as I’d seen in so many American style weddings, and I have to say, as someone who loves dancing at every opportunity, I much prefer zaffas!

My bridesmaid duties were much lighter than expected. I only made the 3 hour drive up a few times over the last few months, and I never had to deal with any late night emergency calls or day of freakouts a la Bridezillas. The bride was no stranger to putting on huge events and kept cool under pressure, which I knew from our experiences working concerts together in college. Her family was amazing and put so much love, time, and energy into the planning of the wedding itself that it seemed to go off without a hitch! The most important things the bridesmaids had to do on the day of the wedding were look pretty, dance, and be available to hold up her dress in the bathroom, 27 Dresses style.

The best part of being a bridesmaid, and prepare for a mushy lovefest here, was being a part of one of the happiest days of my best friend’s life. I felt so lucky that she chose me to share that day with her and to dance beside her on such a memorable and personal occasion. Working in the wedding industry can be fun, but doing upwards of 40 weddings a year at the same venue has effectively numbed me to the emotion of it all. I try not to forget how much weddings mean to people, but it is admittedly hard to do so when they are literally my job. It can be difficult for me to differentiate brides from clients. Being on the other side of the experience changed that. When I saw my best friend dancing with her husband for the first time, and I realized they were singing softly to each other, I cried like a baby. I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up after being visited by the ghosts of Weddings Past, Present, and Future. Weddings are celebrations of love that you share with everyone you care about. And they are awesome. As my professional wedding season dies down, it’s good to have that reminder.

By laurensmash

Writer, feminist, pop culture addict, and unabashed nerd living in Southern California. I'm enthusiastic about the Internet, and I enjoy smashing things.

4 replies on “We Try It: Being A Bridesmaid”

Bridesmaiding. One of the reasons I am glad I have so few female friends. Very close female friends, whom I adore with my whole heart, but I am not a huge fan of bridesmaiding. I have done it twice now, and once was super low key and amazing, and the other time was so exhausting that by the end of the night, my date was literally holding me up while I danced before the bride’s parents tracked me down to go find their car in the parking lot to retrieve the bride’s “going away” dress.

My understanding is that the reason bridesmaid’s dresses are sized so small is that they have continued to abide by industry standards from 60+ years ago. I’m not sure where the feminist rant is in there. I think the race to assign arbitrary dress sizes
everything to sell clothes by false flattery, which has led to destandardizing of dress sizes is the thing to complain about.

…which is tied to society’s pressure on women to be a certain dress size. There’s a gendered double standard at work here. Men’s sizing for formalwear relies on actual measurements as opposed to the arbitrary sizing for women. Clothing manufacturers shouldn’t be trying to “flatter” me as a woman with vanity sizing. That is bullshit because the fashion industry has a clear bias toward smaller women. They should focus on creating clothes that will actually fit and sizing them in a way that makes sense so women don’t have to pull 4 different sizes of the same dress into the fitting room.

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