Always a bride, never a bridesmaid

Monday, February 13, 2012


"So, what should we play?" my friend asks, as the door to the mysterious grown-up world of coffee and gossip swings firmly shut behind our mothers. 

We are at her house. I, therefore, am a guest. We all know the golden rule, the one unbreakable commandment that spills in urgent whispers from our mothers' lips in that final moment before the doorbell rings. The rule is this: Put The Guest First. 

In other words, what we play is up to me, and we both know it.

"Welll...", I say, casually tracing a finger along the perfect cheekbone of Joey from New Kids on the Block, whose glassy-eyed grin beams out at me from a torn-out page of Smash Hits magazine. "We could play... dressing up?"

With the quiet sigh of someone resigned to her fate, my friend reaches into her wardrobe and for the thousandth time pulls out a box brimming with feathers and hats and too-big high heels. I pounce on it, plunging my arms deep into the tangle of fabrics until my probing fingers find what they have been seeking: the cold slipperiness of overpriced polyester. I curl my hands around the fabric and pull. A handful of white skirt emerges, followed by a row of tightly-curled pink rosebuds. One perfectly spherical sleeve. A flurry of lace. I keep tugging until, finally, I am cradling it in my arms - the most beautiful dress I have ever seen.

Eagerly I poke my skinny arms through the armholes and begin to wrestle the dress over my head. My tropical-fruit-themed t-shirt bunches up around my shoulders. I tug the dress down as far as it will go, but still I need to roll my cycling shorts up my legs to stop them ruining the effect. I squeeze the matching satin slippers onto my feet, toes crammed together like socks squashed into a drawer. The dress's label says age 3-4. I am eight.

I stand in front of the mirror, and I don't see the satin straining across my chest, the faint outline of a pineapple visible under the cheap white fabric. I don't see my arms turning blue as the elasticated puff sleeves slowly cut off my circulation. I don't see the hideous 1980s confection of a frock that one day I will ridicule. 

I see something beautiful. I see something special. I see something loved. 

I see a bridesmaid.


I have never been a bridesmaid before. My mum was a bridesmaid multiple times (seven, eight?) and it has always seemed to me a rite of passage, an essential stop on the coach trip to womanhood. So much so that I even put it on my life list. But, not having a sister or a sole all-consuming Best Friend, I secretly suspected it might never happen. Even though I have skills, contacts, so many ideas, maybe I'm just not bridesmaid material.

Except, apparently, I am! YESSSSS!!! Thank you Blonde Bridesmaid. It's a pleasure and an honour.

I am already taking my duties very seriously, spending Saturday afternoon reading my long-awaited copy of the APW Book (which, by the way, is excellent so far. Where the hell was it two years ago when I was tearing my hair out over the cost of hiring a wedding car for a three-minute journey?) and searching for pictures of weddings with fifteen bridesmaids as proof that a mere four is not, in fact, too many, and any friend of the bride's mother who says otherwise can just bugger off.

I don't want to speak too soon, but I think I'm going to be good at this.


{Top image: Lichfield/Getty Images. Bottom image: Lillian and Leonard}

6 boats moored

  1. I'd LOVE to be a bridemaid - I've never quite forgiven my best friends for not having any (and yes, I take it personally!). One's husband insisted they get married, abroad, with no-one there and the other declared herself 'too old' for bridesmaids. I fear the window of possible bridesmaid-ness has slammed shut...

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    1. Ugh, how rude of them! Brides can be so selfish, thinking it's all about *them* when clearly it's all about *us*. It's my day to wear a pretty dress, damnit!

      Ahem.

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  2. I think I'm going to have to persuade my parents to re-do their vows for their 30th anniversary next year... And have my brother and I as their bridal party...

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  3. I would really like to be a bridesmaid I think, only if I could have as much enthusiasm for the role as you though.

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  4. Yup, so exciting ! Little sis just got married and I loved being part of it, from the other side, what with all the experience :p (because we do not spend any time reading sane wedding blogs ahem).
    Also got her the APW book on her hands as soon as I could.
    And I am sure you will do great ! Enjoy it , and oh yes pretty dresses !

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