Always a bridesmaid?
May 22, 2011
NEW YORK – There’s lingering talk about Pippa Middleton getting a tad too much attention at the wedding of her now-royal sis, let alone those topless bikini shots, so what’s a bridesmaid to do without sucking too much air out of the room?
The short answer: Just enough and not too much, advises Anja Winikka, editor of TheKnot.com.
Wedding chaos American-style is back on tap with “Bridesmaids,” released last weekend, starring Kristen Wiig as a life-in-shambles maid of honor forced to take on a band of little miss perfects in bright, shiny pink.
There’s been plenty of time to recover from the April 29 royal nuptials, where Pippa’s head-turning gown left some wondering how far a maid of honor can go in looking, well, good. No way, Winikka said, did Pippa upstage the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge.
“I’m not buying it. She looked fabulous, but Kate still looked like the bride,” she said.
Some of the discomfort, at least among Americans, is the unfamiliarity of bridesmaids wearing white, she said. The tradition is less unusual in the U.K., and it heeds a superstition among royals and others that dressing the wedding party like the bride will ward off evil spirits, Winikka said.
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Like Wiig’s character, Annie, most bridesmaids are up against a lot of other challenges as well, not the least of which is the expense of “serving” a best friend or relative. But they want to do right. Some tips:
How much does it really cost to be a bridesmaid?
“It can really add up,” Winikka said, especially if the bride plans a destination wedding and-or a bachelorette trip, let alone a shower. “You’re looking at upward of $1,000 just to be a bridesmaid and often more.”
There’s the dress, shoes, jewelry, travel and party expenses, all not typically covered by the wedding couple.
“You should have a conversation right up front about expenses. It’s hard but you need to say what you can and cannot contribute financially,” Winikka said. “We suggest brides initiate that,” she added, but if they don’t, it can’t slide.
If committed, start setting aside a small amount every month to make it work. Plan a group wedding gift with fellow bridesmaids “if you’re cashed out and can’t afford more than a mixing bowl.”
Definitely plan on sharing a room if the wedding is out of town.
For added value on a bridesmaid dress, consider a new service, Newlymaid.com, introduced by the formal wear company the Dessy Group. The site offers credit on new dresses of 30 to 50 percent in exchange for gently worn bridesmaid or other special occasion frocks.
Guilt-free is the way to go if you can’t afford to “serve,” but don’t delay the money talk. “If she’s your friend, she’ll understand, or she could adjust to make it less of a burden.”
The two big pre-wedding responsibilities of bridesmaids is planning the shower and a bachelorette party – at their expense.
Take the bride’s interests and sensibilities into account but don’t look to her for guidance or assistance. Keep in mind the parties should reflect the bride, not the bridesmaids.
When it comes to dress shopping, a bride usually won’t bring the entire wedding party to kibitz, but a bridesmaid or two might be invited, Winikka said. Honesty about dress choices, within limits, is a good thing, she said.
“You don’t want to say that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen you in, but being honest is always the right road to go down,” Winikka said.
If a bride makes specific party requests, you’re not obligated to heed every detail.
“You’re not expected to do exactly what she asks but try to come up with alternatives that everyone can live with.”
Bridesmaids should consider themselves “sub-hosts” at the ceremony and reception.
Be gracious but don’t take charge, unless the bride asks you to. “If it looks like someone isn’t having a good time, kind of take it upon yourself to get everyone involved,” Winikka said.
But don’t mistake the role.
“You’re not the wedding planner. That’s the line you draw. You don’t need to have safety pins and Band-Aids in your back pocket,” Winikka said. “You don’t need to line everybody up and make sure they walk down the aisle in the right way.”
Conversely, brides should be clear on what they expect of the wedding party, she said. Sometimes an otherwise rational bride can go bridezilla in the moment. Winikka’s advice is roll with it.
“Something might come up.” she said. “Keep an open mind. Be flexible. I think every bride has a little moment of crazy.”