The Vagenda

The Horror of Being a Bridesmaid


I recognise it is unforgivable to say you don’t like being a bridesmaid. The phenomenal honour of being part of anyone’s Special Day is supposed to short circuit such selfish notions; we maids are meant to operate en masse, with smiles fixed on our faces. I am writing this anonymously because I still have to perform this sacred duty at two more weddings in the next year. It is an honour. It is also an almighty faff.
The label is apt; I do feel like a maid. But I’m not even being paid minimum wage to run around doing the bidding of my bridal bosses. I’m sending daily group emails, coordinating hen party payments and embossing endless invitations all for a mention in the best man’s speech and, if I’m lucky, a fifteen quid necklace by way of thanks.
It’s about much more than that, of course. I am doing all this because these brides are my dearest friends, my surrogate family. Together we used to fall down drunk, explore foreign countries and spend hours dissecting episodes of The OC. All we ever talk about now is finding ribbons in the right shade of coral. This may sound like the bitterness of a bridesmaid jonesing to be a bride, but, on the contrary, my lovely boyfriend and I have been involved in enough wedding preparation to have solemnly pledged never to put ourselves, or our bank balances, through the strain.
The sums are eye-watering, for everyone involved. My latest maid mission has set me back £600 so far, and counting. I am so happy for the bride. So glad that she escaped the raging ex who slashed her self-esteem to ribbons, and chuffed that she is marrying the lovely man who put her back together. I just wish that sharing in that happiness didn’t mean handing over £200 for a hen weekend, the highlight of which was a raucous game of hot tub I Have Never with her old workmates. 
And that was one that went well. I’ve seen the full range of hen party politics, from arsey Facebook messages to the kind of rolling boil resentment that leaves you questioning your very sense of self.
I, for example, am glad that I share the planet with super-organised, spreadsheet colour-coding people. But I am not one of them. If you give me a task and a deadline, all is well. If you give me 15 emails in two hours about the Mr and Mrs game, all is not. And if you turn every communication into a snide who-knows the-bride-better battle, I will spend our entire hen party afternoon tea wanting to throw scones at your stupid head.
The brilliant Bridesmaids was a watershed moment, finally giving a voice to us stressed, oppressed maids. Kristen Wiig’s character blurted the truth we’ve been bottling up for so long: that joining a bunch of women you don’t know to become assistant project managers on a high-stakes social event isn’t actually particularly enjoyable. There were pop culture hints before, of course; the ever-brilliant Samantha Jones in Sex And The City pleaded with Charlotte, ‘I’d love to be left out!’, and even Katherine Heigl’s saccharine character in 27 Dresses had her moments of maid malaise. Notice the lack of films about how enjoyable and fulfilling it is to be a bridesmaid? That’s because it’s not.
Except for one group: little girls. They love it. So, why not just have pre-teens as bridesmaids? Or, as we can’t really have eight-year-olds buying the penis straws, ask for volunteers. (Yes, technically I have been asked before assuming maid duties, but has anyone ever actually said no? If so, you have my respect.)
Let the organised people have the gig, and give them almighty thanks for the time-consuming, cash-absorbing, selfless and beautiful task they have undertaken. The rest of us, now off the hook, will do everything else. We’ll buy thoughtful presents. We’ll chat to strange relatives. We will start the dancing when the band comes on. And we’ll do it all with a smile on our faces – because we haven’t had two hundred conversations about coral ribbons. 

8 thoughts on “The Horror of Being a Bridesmaid

  1. When we got married, there were 6 people present; me, my husband, our mothers and two friends. I wore an outfit that featured only 1 specially-bought item; a skirt. I made my own jewellery and no-one was put in the ‘bridesmaid’ situation. I HATE all that, fine if it’s what you really want, but many get swept along in others’ expectations.

  2. I’ve been a bridesmaid twice, both times the friendship didn’t survive the experience. I’ve been a ‘best man’ once though, and that was great fun.

  3. Lovely article. I got married without bridesmaids (had both my parent walk me down the ‘aisle’). Also didn’t bother with a hen party, instead spent some quality time with friends in the small social groups we know each other from (most of my close friends live far away, have families etc, so we don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we’d like). No regrets over either choice. I really don’t see the point of a bridesmaid (let alone 5 or 6) to be honest!

  4. I honestly can’t imagine asking my friends to spend that much money on a hen do! This wedding stuff can really get out of control. I was really grateful to have my closest friends as my bridesmaids at my wedding, though – I don’t think I could really say that it’s always a terrible idea to have bridesmaids, or to ask your friends to do it. As long you as you remember that these people are your friends and you want to keep it that way!

  5. I’ve only been a bridesmaid once, so after the slew of weddings coming up over the next year, I may well switch over to your ranks, but I had a lot of fun being a bridesmaid! I think it helped that I was a bride FIRST, so I understood when the bride needed talking down from an obsessive and unrealistic request, and when I needed to humor a slightly over-the-top but really not a big deal request. Fine line to walk for sure! I really enjoyed being their for my friend, making her experience as a bride as easy and fun as possible, and putting my bride-being experience to good use. Maybe the answer is to try to choose attendants who have gotten married themselves, so they’re more on board with the whole crazy shebang in the place? To someone who doesn’t want to get married, I can only imagine how frustrating and draining the whole process would be!

  6. I haven’t even got to the end of the article yet (I will finish it, promise!) but this whole thing has just reminded me, if you haven’t seen the film Bachelorette, go watch it. Dunst, Fisha, Caplan are so amazing together. It will rock your world! It flopped in the US, don’t let that put you off as no disrespect to our American brothers and sisters, I can’t imagine they are the most discerning crowd when it comes to cinema

  7. Yeah, Batchelorette was great. Sometimes it didn’t seem to know whether it was a drama or a comedy, but that just made it more endearing to me, if not a little more “real”. Caplan, Dunst and Fisher were superb