Everybody knows that being a bridesmaid comes with a long laundry list of ugh-inducing moments: It can drain your personal time, savings account and even levels of patience.
Around the age of 25, all my friends started getting engaged at the same time. I had no choice but to say yes to the bridesmaid dress. My weekends were scratched off with weddings, and my closet was filled with expensive dresses I would never in my life wear again. I began to view being a bridesmaid like a trip to the gyno: something I had to do, even if I was kicking and screaming on my way in.
But being a bridesmaid doesn't have to be terrible. Here are 6 tips to getting your friend down the aisle without pulling your hair out.
1. Talk to ex-bridesmaids.
Being a bridesmaid feels like you've scored the supporting actress role in a Oscar-worthy film. Word to the wise: Do your research before jumping into the role. Chat with other bridesmaids and message people you hardly know but are Facebook friends with, asking them for their top pieces of advice.
The first couple of times I was a bridesmaid, I made every rookie mistake out there. I brought lingerie to the bridal shower and watched the bride's 98-year-old grandma almost faint when the bride pulled the sexy ensemble out of the box.
I waited until a week before a wedding to order my bridesmaid dress and almost had to buy fabric to sew a copy of the dress together myself. I even invited my own plus one when the bride and groom told me I couldn't have one.
Finding out as much as you can and hearing about other bridesmaid's mistakes will only give you a very strong and needed advantage when you enter your 6-month to yearlong stint as a bridesmaid.
2. Keep an eye on your savings account.
Pretend you're a teen and give yourself an allowance. Be stingy with your money. Don't pull from your Bat Mitzvah savings or your 401k to be able to afford your job as a bridesmaid for the ninth time this year.
The second you realize you're spending a huge chunk of your payment on being a bridesmaid and can't use that money for Sunday brunches or shopping trips to H&M, you'll flush with rage and anger. You will never want to be a bridesmaid again. Just think of all the bottles of rosé you could buy if you didn't have to shell out the cash for an ugly polyester dress, right?
I once spent more on being a bridesmaid than I did on one month's rent in New York City. That's when I slapped myself in the face with my checkbook and realized if I was ever going to do this bridesmaid thing again, I needed to do it with a budget and a lot of NO WAYS to things I couldn't afford.
3. Pack a survival kit.
Bridesmaid rule: Never show up to a wedding empty handed. I'm not talking about bringing a gift or a date, both of those things are dependent on a lot of factors. I'm talking about coming prepared.
Being a bridesmaid on the day of the wedding feels a whole lot like running one of those mud marathon races. You'll find yourself with cuts and bruises, headaches and moments of extreme fatigue.
I show up to weddings now with a carry-on suitcase filled with everything I can get my hands on at CVS. I pack it with food, Band-Aids and anything else I think I may need if I was suddenly plopped down in a forest in the middle of nowhere.
4. Do one wedding at a time.
You know what they say: more weddings, more problems. Space out when you're a bridesmaid, if possible. If you already said yes to being in one wedding in March, it might help your savings account and sanity to say no to being one in April.
I was a bridesmaid four times in one month. By the last wedding, I needed a good month's rest before I was able to dance to another Bruno Mars song or even spend quality time with any of my friends.
Being a bridesmaid can be a whole lot of fun as long as you don't do it every single weekend of spring.
5. Get a new hobby.
Being a bridesmaid feels like an extracurricular activity. It's a time-sucker and a money-sucker. It doesn't leave you with much time to do the other things in your life you'd like to do, like hot yoga, jetting to Thailand for a week or even shopping for a new first date dress.
Living in the bridesmaid bubble for a couple of months will make you go bonkers. That's why it's important to commit to a new hobby during that time. That way, you'll have a reason to spend time thinking about and doing something else. So sign up for that improv class, join a CrossFit gym or train for a 10k so you can run a little bit away from being a full-time bridesmaid.
6. Go easy on the booze at the wedding.
Alcohol doesn't always make things better, but sometimes it does make things bearable. As a bridesmaid, you're often looked to as the party starter and the person to fix spur-of-the-moment problems. Try to be sober enough for that second part, OK?
No matter how many times you're a bridesmaid, you will eventually start to despise taking on the role. All of a sudden, the thought of paying for another polyester dress, weekend in Vegas and wedding registry blender will make your skin itch.
Find the humor, the fun and the absurdity in being a bridesmaid by taking a step back and realizing another walk down the aisle is just another thing to cross off your 20something bucket list.