Around the time I was blowing out 25 candles on my birthday cake, I was also starting to gain the reputation of being that girl…. The “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride” girl.
I know, it's pretty insane to feel like a spinster in my mid-20s. But all of my friends were latching on to their permanent teammates at the (too?)early ages of 22 and 23, and I was being hugged by polyester dress after polyester dress, walking down the aisle in the name of their newfound holy matrimony.
Even before I snagged my first full-time job and was able to afford to live anywhere besides my parent’s house, I was self-funding my way as a bridesmaid in more weddings than I could count on both of my hands, and almost my toes.
Being a bridesmaid at such a young age meant I made every single bridesmaid mistake out there. I ordered my bridesmaid dress the month before the wedding, thinking it would show up on time. (It didn’t and I had to go out and buy a last-minute, look-alike dress from Macy's instead).
I brought sexy lingerie to the bridal shower and received eye rolls and uncomfortable sighs from the bride’s older family members. I brought a plus one to a wedding when the bride and groom didn’t say I could. I mean, they never said I couldn’t.
I even spent a giant chunk of my “Move to New York City” savings account in the service of being a bridesmaid.
When I look back now at all the wedding adventures I had a supporting role in, all of the altars I stood up at, bachelorette parties I went to, and bridesmaid dresses I zipped on, I think about the number one bridesmaid mistake I made over and over again, without even realizing it.
That mistake was not saying no to things I didn’t want to do, couldn’t afford, or truly didn’t have the time for.
This is a mistake I bet you’re making, too.
There’s a lot of pressure on a bridesmaid. You want to make the bride happy and give her the best wedding experience possible. Because of that, you feel like you have to say yes to everything, including things that make you want to scream internally .
But what happens when you spend too much money that you don't have for your friend's wedding, or when you agree to do things you seriously don't want to do, is that you begin to resent the situation. And in this case, you begin to resent the bride.
Saying yes to everything, in the end, will break apart your friendship and your relationship with the bride.
So the look-back lesson I learned from all of my stints as a young bridesmaid was that saying yes and overspending and agreeing to be places I didn’t want to be was the biggest mistake of all.
If I could go back in time, and I wish I could, I would have set a tight budget for every wedding I was a bridesmaid in. I would have said no to paying for bottle service at the bachelorette party when I couldn’t afford it and I would have chimed in when the bride chose a $450 bridesmaid dress.
I would have said I can’t travel to the bridal shower, if it would meant costing me $500 I didn't have. And I wouldn't have given a wedding gift that would overdraft my checking account.
Saying no, at first, may feel like you’re making a mistake or that you’re letting the bride down. But the truth is, saying no and doing what you’re comfortable doing is the only way to make it through the wedding experience with your friendship intact and a mental scrapbook of happy memories.
And the last thing you want is to look back on your friend's beautiful day and feel regret.