This week, I fly to Maryland to celebrate holy matrimony with my sweet childhood friend, Olivia! She and I have known each other since we were six years old; she stood by me in my wedding last summer, and I’ll stand by her this Friday. Everyone should have an Olivia. Friendships steeped in time are so precious.
With her wedding on my mind, I’ve been preparing to be a bridesmaid. This will be my fourth time being in one of my friends’ weddings, so I’ve learned quite a bit about preparing for it! I absolutely love weddings and feel so honored whenever I get to be a part of one. Here are some ways to prepare if you’ll be a bridesmaid sometime soon!
1 | Get your dress altered early
Even after getting fitted and measured, you’ll most likely still need to get your dress altered. (The only time I haven’t had to get a bridesmaid’s dress altered was when it was a sundress from Macy’s that came in letter sizes, like small, medium, and large.)
Find a local alteration shop and take the undergarments you’ll wear, the shoes you’ll wear, and your dress. Put everything on, then let the seamstress pin the dress as necessary. In a few weeks, you’ll go back and try on the dress again (with the proper undergarments and shoes again), and the seamstress will make tweaks if necessary.
Please, please, please get your dress altered if you need to. (If you’re not sure, get a second opinion!) Wedding day photos are probably really important to the bride–you don’t want to be the only one with a gaping neckline or too-long dress.
2 | Get a spray tan (if you want)
This is personal preference, of course, but even with my super-fair skin, I like to have a healthy glow, especially for wedding photos. I always get a spray tan (or do my own with my favorite self tanner at home) before being a bridesmaid. I’m not aiming for orange or even “Wow, you look tan!” just a healthy glow!
If it’s summertime, you could also spend a little extra time outside before the wedding, but I prefer spray tans because I won’t have any weird bathing suit lines showing. (And also because I burn so easily!)
Other things you may consider: using whitening toothpaste or white-strips, getting your hair cut or colored, getting a mani/pedi or painting your nails yourself, etc.
3 | Don’t ask the bride too many questions
This is so important. If you’re in a wedding, starting a week before the big day, make a point not to bombard the bride with questions! The week leading up to a wedding is extremely stressful and overwhelming for the bride, so ask the Maid of Honor if you have questions. The MOH should be the contact point on behalf of the entire bridal party. Call or text her, she can communicate with the bride if necessary (though she’ll likely know the answer to many of your questions herself), and then you’ll have the information you need.
Don’t be constantly calling or texting the bride with questions! I’m so serious. As much as she loves you, there are few times in life as stressful as the week before her wedding day. Refer to the pre-wedding email she probably sent you, then ask the MOH if you still have questions. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t communicate with the bride at all (see number five), just don’t ask her lots of questions when you can find the answers elsewhere.
4 | Don’t send the bride unrequested information
Much like number three, don’t send the bride unrequested information. If she doesn’t want your flight numbers, don’t send her that information. If she doesn’t want to know whether or not you’re renting a car, don’t send her that information. If she doesn’t ask for it, don’t send it.
I don’t think I can convey this enough: I am a highly organized person, but my mind was spinning the week before my wedding. So, if the bride doesn’t ask for particular information, don’t send it. Of course, if she does ask you for something, send that along. (I’ve been in weddings with brides who don’t want any extraneous information and in others with brides who want every piece of information, down to the last detail. It’s a matter of preference.)
5 | Send encouragement
As much as I urge you not to bombard the bride with questions or unrequested information, I highly encourage you to send encouragement to the bride before her big day. She’ll probably need you to help ground her and refocus her attention. All of the last-minute details are so distracting and overwhelming that it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Send your friend (the bride) an uplifting text. Remind her how much you love her and how excited you are for her big day. Mail her a note if you think of it. Drop off some of her favorite candy at her office. Call her and let her vent about everything that’s going on. Just being available and sending loving encouragement can make such a big difference!
6 | Find comfortable shoes
You will be in your bridesmaid shoes all. day. long. For pictures when you’re getting ready, for pictures before the ceremony, for the ceremony, for pictures after the ceremony, for pictures at the reception…all day! Make sure they’re comfortable. Because of the way my feet are shaped (very flat, a little wide, but with very narrow heels), wearing heels is extremely uncomfortable. Not to mention my scoliosis! Wedges are great, but heels stink.
Also: don’t put on your heels until the last minute. Wait until the photographer is asking you to line up for photos! You’ll thank me later, because six hours in heels can be brutal! (I wore wedged sandals in my own wedding–I’ve never been more comfortable!)
7 | Bring flats, a clutch, and a sweater
Along with wearing the most comfortable heels you can find, also bring flats, a clutch, and a sweater for the wedding. I usually tuck a thin pair of flip-flops into my clutch with extra lip gloss, a couple of bobby pins, a hair tie, my cell phone, and anything else I’ll need at the reception. I also bring a light cardigan sweater or pashmina scarf for the evening in case I get chilly.
8 | Offer to help, but don’t be obnoxious
Throughout the week leading up to the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, and the wedding, definitely be available and offer to help where needed. (I usually text the bride the week before and remind her that I’m available to do whatever she needs me to do!) Then, back off. Don’t constantly ask if you can help with anything; it’s obnoxious and can add unnecessary stress if the bride is trying to come up with tasks for you.
Just be available, offer to help wherever you’re needed (and mean it), and wait to see if there’s something you can help with. Also, it’s a good idea to tell the photographer, wedding coordinator, mother of the bride, etc. that you’d be happy to help–it’s nice for them to have a point of contact besides the bride as she’ll be tied up, you know, getting married!
9 | Get a gift or card
As you’re prepping to help your friend celebrate her big day, don’t forget to get her a gift or a card as a wedding gift. This can easily be forgotten, but it’s wedding etiquette to leave the bride and groom something, even if it’s not much.
I’ve had to travel across the country for all of the weddings I’ve been in, so I always bring a card, write the new couple a little note, and include a check or some cash. Of course, a personalized gift or something sentimental would be lovely, too! (For gift ideas, check out this podcast episode.)
//Have you ever been a bridesmaid? What did you do to prepare?