The Bridesmaid's Dress: Your Survival Guide

Categories: Eyesore, Fashion

bridesmaidopen0.jpg
Photo by Sherry Main
Whoever this bride is? You can skip this article. Also, dancing girl on end -- call me. I want to be friends with you.
I was a 36-year-old bridesmaid, and I lived to tell the tale. I'm telling it now, risking discovery of this article by the bride and the dissolution of our 30-year friendship. Shhhh. Quiet.

Anyone who has ever been in a wedding has horror stories to tell. Tyrannical brides, unexpected guests, terrible caterers, photographers who don't deliver the promised $3,000 worth of photos, mothers of the bride (or groom)...but this isn't a therapy session. This is an open plea to brides everywhere regarding one very specific, very expensive issue: the bridesmaid's dress.

PLUS! Tips to survive a bad one.

There is a reason that the phrase "bridesmaid's dress" conjures up hilarious images. The badness of bridesmaid's dresses has become its own zeitgeist, inspiring countless articles, slideshows and Web sites dedicated to the topic. Nordstrom has a page of instructions on how not to pick a shitty bridesmaid's dress. There's even a movie about it (kinda).

I have purchased seven bridesmaid dresses over the last 15 years, and every time the bride has uttered the words: "And I really did pick one you can wear again!"

I have never worn any of them again. Not even on Halloween.

The thing is, I know these wearable-again dresses are out there -- I see them all the time on nice girls' blogs; nice girls who let their bridesmaids buy pretty, simple, plain dresses from J. Crew and Nordstrom. I know what brides are thinking: "But this David's Bridal faux-satin gown is only $150! The J. Crew dresses are $200 or more!" At first glance this is excellent math -- cheaper is better. Except paying less for a gown you'll only wear once is less awesome than paying more for a dress you'll wear at least a few more times.

Are you a future bride? Be nice -- pick the expensive-but-wearable dresses.

I refuse to accept the commonly held belief that brides choose ugly dresses for their bridesmaids to ensure that they themselves look the prettiest. When I got married, I told my friends, "Just wear whatever black dress you want -- long, short, sleeveless...whatever." My reasoning was based largely on the fact that most women have a little black dress and if they don't, it's a good investment, AND my bridesmaids would be free to pick a dress that was both flattering and affordable within whatever budget they were on at the time.

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Photo by Jayne Clemenson Moskal
Nicest bride in the world! No bias.
Also, I'm lazy and hate making decisions. But still, it worked out.



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7 comments
MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Can you sue the bride/groom if they're divorced before you take off the garish costume? I've been to three weddings and I think all three couples were divorced before I returned the tux. My Mrs. has been to six, (bridesmaid at four) and same deal. Neither of us ever received an acknowledgement for the gifts we gave much less the time/jack we shelled out for the clothes--and a rental tux is a dream compared to what you photographed for posterity.

When the Mrs.' cousin--a pro athelete, more on that in a minute--invited us to schlep across the country to his wedding, where we would pay for airfare, room, food, but not be forced to participate, we were tempted. Instead, we instituted our no weddings policy, sent a gift and reminded the pro athelete, we're the relatives that never hit him up for a touch/tickets/investment opportunites/etc. I think they were married 15 minutes before splitting and we still haven't gotten an acknowledgement for the Vitamix.

rich5371
rich5371

Yes, I'm a straight male - I read everything else in the blogs then read this amusing blog.  I confess or perhaps brag I had to Google crinoline, I have three daughters, an ex wife, and a live in girlfriend for the last 8 years who's friendly with the ex-wife, and I still swear I've never heard the damn word.  After I Googled it all I can say is wow - really, in todays day and age?  She wanted you to wear what?  Thanks for an entertaining story and I have to say you look like a very beautiful woman in a "difficult", or perhaps "unfortunate" dress - glad you had fun in the end!

rich5371
rich5371

Yes, I'm a straight male - I read everything else in the blogs then read this amusing blog.  I confess or perhaps brag I had to Google crinoline, I have three daughters, an ex wife, and a live in girlfriend for the last 8 years who's friendly with the ex-wife, and I still swear I've never heard the damn word.  After I Googled it all I can say is wow - really, in todays day and age?  She wanted you to wear what?  Thanks for an entertaining story and I have to say you look like a very beautiful woman in a "difficult", or perhaps "unfortunate" dress - glad you had fun in the end!

Cheryl Brundage
Cheryl Brundage

I'm going one step further. I'm not having bridesmaids for my wedding. I'm an independent older bride who's never had a lot of women friends. The few women I feel close to don't know each other, are super busy and scattered around the world. I will be happy if they can come to my wedding. I don't want drama, I don't want to burden them (or myself) financially or time-wise. The bridesmaid "traditions" may be meaningful and fun for younger, girlier brides (they have my blessings), but to me they seem irrelevant, silly and a waste of time and money. I will ask certain friends (men and women) to help out with certain aspects of the wedding and play particular roles if they are willing, but that's it. To me it being "my" day should mean that it's a day for everyone involved to celebrate and build on our relationships, not for me to demand so much that those relationships become strained.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Great big glass of Scotch as the perfect accessory. That's my kind of girl.

itstdl
itstdl

...what an excellent light-hearted read.     especially after reading this weeks cover story.   congrats, Ms. Uticone.      

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@Cheryl Brundage I was "older" (33) when I got married, but my bridesmaids all knew one another (those of us in this wedding did, too) from childhood. I needed them, as the majority of the plannning/prep was done for a NY wedding while I was still living in Alaska. Their help was invaluable. If I had to do it over, though, I'd have flown our families (parents, siblings) up to AK & gotten married in my backyard in jeans & hiking boots. Hindsight!

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