Friday, August 19, 2011

Confessions of a Bitter Bridesmaid : What Not to Do to Your Friends

Sitting at the kitchen table with my flip-flopped feet stuck to the floor (due to the previous evening’s margarita party), I joined my roommate for our usual Sunday morning hangover breakfast. As the conversation swayed between a discussion of men’s general deficiencies and the deliciousness of the bacon, we suddenly realized that the following weekend would not be filled with our familiar cycle of binge drinking and shame. Why? Because my roommate had to attend the most insidious of late summer rituals: a wedding.

I don’t really hate weddings as a rule. Sure, I may be a cynical, spinster-in-training who often scoffs at the idea of romantic love, but I’m always up for a good party. The problem is that weddings frequently become nightmares. The potential for fun exists, but it depends on so many variables and things often go terribly wrong. First and foremost, the only way to have fun at a wedding is to have the least amount of responsibility possible. That means that you are not in the wedding party.

My friends are all getting to be of a “certain age” and seem to be making a panicky rush for the altar. Last summer I was invited to three weddings, one of which required me to be a bridesmaid. This was to be my third stint as a bridesmaid and I have to admit that the idea of wearing a matching dress with two other women did not thrill me. But I agreed to be an adoring bridesmaid yet again, because the fact is, one can simply not refuse the bridesmaid invitation. Those are the rules.

My role as bridesmaid ended up being incredibly stressful. For starters, the bridesmaid’s dress, which was sent to me in the mail, was lost by Canada Post. This led to a frantic last-minute scrambling to find a sea-foam green, strapless dress smack in the middle of wedding season. This is my idea of hell. After a thorough investigation into the most obscure bridal shops of southern Ontario, I ended up buying a showroom dress that happened to be the exact dress I needed for the wedding. The only problem was that it had the words “SAMPLE DRESS” stamped in big black letters on the back. My solution? To paint over the letters with fabric paint, in an attempt to camouflage this potentially embarrassing detail. Luckily it worked and the wedding guests didn’t notice anything unusual as I walked down the aisle on the big day. But after the amount of stress and anxiety that resulted from the lost dress, I developed a real distaste for the bridesmaid ritual. I dared to ask the question (although not to the bride): “Who the hell really cares about all of this?”

The thing is, many people care about it. There are entire TV programs dedicated to the subject of weddings and wedding planning. Bridezilla has become a commonly used term in pop culture. Why? Because women often turn into monsters when it’s time for their “special day.” It is clear that men and women experience weddings differently. Most men are pretty relaxed about the whole ordeal, whereas women often plan things down to psychotic detail. My most common perspective of weddings is from the bridesmaid’s position. And I would like to clarify something once and for all: Being a bridesmaid is not an honour. It is mostly a pain in the ass. Even women who do not fall under the category of bridezilla will usually expect too much from their bridesmaids. Here’s a starter list of things that are required of you:

· Buy the expensive dress that you will most likely never wear again.

· Buy shoes of a specific colour to match the dress that will undoubtedly be impossible to find.

· Organize a stagette party that involves all sorts of penis paraphernalia and inevitably includes annoying drunk chicks in feather boas and tiaras who haven’t been out at a bar since their first year in university.

· Go for pedicures/manicures/facials with all the girls prior to the wedding. If you don’t, you are somehow a disgrace and disappointment to bridesmaids everywhere.

· On the day of the wedding, get an up-do that will include over fifty bobby pins being plunged into your scalp.

· Get your make-up done by some recent beauty school grad who is set on making you look like a drag queen.

· Prepare and deliver a speech about the purity and integrity of the couple’s relationship in front of hundreds of people, even if you don’t think the marriage will last more than five years.

Then there is the inevitable point when you are asked to catch the bouquet. This is possibly the most nauseating part of the whole experience. “Will all the single ladies come to the front of the room?” Read: “Will all the lonely women who can’t maintain a relationship for more than three weeks please come to the front of the room?” Besides all of this, you have to dance with sweaty Uncle Dave to Old Time Rock and Roll, which actually ends up being the highlight of the evening. Doesn’t this all sound completely ridiculous? Doesn’t it seem like too much to ask of a person? Then why do so many women insist on the tiresome and antiquated bridesmaid ritual?

I don’t have the answer to that question. It continues to baffle me. Their future husbands certainly aren’t forcing them to do it. It is my understanding than men could really care less about these kinds of things. Do brides secretly want to get revenge on friends for past wrongs? Or maybe it’s a reaction to the masculinization of women and gives the bride-to-be a chance to surround herself with hyper-feminine things and act like princess for a day. Regardless of the reasons, I would like to formally beg women to stop putting their friends through this traumatizing ritual. Every time I open my closet, I am reminded of my past experiences, as my old bridesmaids dresses hang there like abandoned chiffon carcasses that will never see the light of day again. But I am personally taking a stand. I will never do it again, no matter who asks me. I have done my time.

By: Zoe VanGogh
Divine Caroline

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