Last week, my boyfriend asked me if I’d like to be his wife. I was fairly surprised, having nudged him on the topic for a year or so and received a fairly tepid response, I genuinely thought we were a year or so away from it. But low and behold, he took me for a walk in Battersea Park, dropped down on one knee and asked the big question. I am delighted, naturally. I cannot imagine being with anyone else for the rest of my days (which is a pretty good start) so I said ‘yes’. And cried like a baby.
I called the girls and, after a bit of squealing, begged each of them to be my bridesmaid. They’re the four women who I can’t really do life without and it’s a fine excuse to buy them all a non-hideous dress and drink unsociable amounts of gin with them.
Sas squealed and swore, Nat cried and swore, Fliss just flat-out squealed and Liz was asleep (but squealed and swore at me the following morning). It was a most satisfying response. One thing they all raised on the phone, though, was the entertaining fact that I have been a bridesmaid nine times. It’ll actually be TEN next year when I do the honours for the aforementioned Liz who’s also signing up for the long-haul with lovely boyfriend James. It’s been a hell of a run.
So, what has my considerable bridesmaid CV taught me about brides? Well, I think it can be broken down into packages. *DISCLOSURE* I am at pains to point out that these descriptions are built from a patch-work of experiences, both my own and from friends. ALL of the brides who have had me in their weddings have been more or less totally delightful. And NOBODY has ever asked me to lose weight.
The Comprehensive Bride Guide for Bridesmaids
The Bronze Barely-There
Way down the scale from the full-blown bridezillah (I’m getting to that one), is the Barely-There Bride. This chick is so laid-back, she overslept for her last two dress fittings and can’t remember if she’s invited her in-laws or not. She’s a TOP girl and one of your favourite people: the wedding will be a blast and most likely a cool, festival-type affaire with food trucks serving mac ‘n’ cheese and a Mumford & Sons-type band strumming away. Hell, someone may even be stoned. But while you’ll not be facing down a tantrum over boutonnières from her any time soon, she can be kind of annoying in that she’s flakey with a capital “F”. She can be hard work simply because she hasn’t done any of the work, and you’ll have to pick up the slack. Don’t be surprised if, come the wedding morning, you find that she hasn’t covered logistical stuff like how exactly you’re all getting to the venue or who’s giving her away. She’s easy, but GOOD GOD is she disorganised. To be honest, you’re seriously beginning to worry that she might forget to turn up for her own wedding.
The Silver Siren
Possibly the happiest medium. Your Silver Siren is chilled but pretty focussed. Your biggest obstacle is probably a slightly pushy Mother-In-Law or a jealous sister (nice, cool brides ALWAYS have whingey sisters), but largely she’s able to rise above it all without too much trouble. You’ll be allowed to wear what you want in that cool, shabby chic kinda way (although you MIGHT have to wear a flower crown, fair warning) and you’ll probably have a little flower girl to shepherd but that’s probably where your responsibilities end. The hen do was a few pints in the local pub and the groom is a surfer from Cornwall. SOMETHING will go forgotten or unattended on the wedding morning because, a bit like your Barely-There, Silver Siren is kinda flakey. There might not be any formal photos (she’s forgotten to tell the snapper what she wants) but there’ll be booze. And lots of it. Happy days.
The Golden Hen
Pop the fizz and keep it coming. This gal was probably your best mate at Uni. Fond are your memories of stumbling blind drunk out of the Student Union clutching each other’s handbags with two handsome rugby players in tow (no, neither of them are the bloke she’s marrying today). However, while you now can’t stomach more than just the two bottles of vino in a single sitting, she can still knock it back. This bride is your booziest mate and she’s not going to let a little thing like getting married stand between her and the sauce. The hen do was the best you’ve ever been to: you woke up on a barge in Amsterdam when you started in Crouch End, wearing someone else’s knickers and a pair of deely-boppers on your head. The wedding will be incongruously formal (church, tails, vicar, marquee on her parents’ farm) which will make it all the more glaringly obvious when the bride’s shit-faced at 7.30pm. You’ll spend the evening wearing peach chiffon (she was hungover when she chose the dresses) and gathering her copious layers of white tulle over her head while she pees for the fourth time in 30 minutes. She’ll tell you she loves you repeatedly and will stagger to her feet during the speeches slurring the words: “I wassunt goin’ to say anyfink but…”. DO NOT GIVE THIS WOMAN A MICROPHONE. Just keep her upright and out of sight of her new mother-in-law.
The it’s-my-special-day Diamond
Pack the tissues, this one’s a weeper. This is your mate who’s LIFE CHANGED FOREVER when she met her boyfriend. She promptly disappeared for two years as soon as she met him, surfacing briefly to ask you to be a bridesmaid six months ago. She’s in love and boy, do you know it. The invitations bore a bespoke letterpressed couples’ logo and the Save The Date was a picture of them snogging in a field. The hen was a (dry) yoga retreat in Morocco where she cried every day because she missed her boyfriend. She’ll cry walking up the aisle, she’ll cry during the ceremony, she’ll cry during the speeches, she’ll cry as they dance their first choreographed dance together to some appalling weepie number which requires a lift at the end. She is actually having the time of her life. Twenty rose-coloured doves will be released at midnight and the wedding favours will be tiny pots of homemade marmalade made by the bride’s mother with the wedding date scrawled on them. However, if you’re not made of solid stone, chances are you’ll cry too (I myself am a qualified wedding weeper). They’re just so damn happy it’ll be hard not to smile. Also, you really like marmalade. Plus, given the ‘my special day’ approach to the whole thing, she’ll have probably blown her life savings on the wedding and you’re more than likely to get a half-decent bridesmaid dress (just steer her away from the peach chiffon), top drawer booze and a phenomenal cheese table. I mean, what’s not to like?
The Platinum Pain-In-The-Arse
Welcome to DefCon 1, people. Your Platinum PITA is a woman fucking possessed. Seventy seconds after she got engaged, she was on the blower, squealing, telling (the Platinum PITA does not ask, she tells) you that you were up for bridesmaid…along with twelve others. You’ll then be inundated with Whatsapps, texts, calls, emails (she WILL find you) about every tiny thing. Her dress, your dress, the shoes, the food, the church, there is NO part of this wedding that will not need your sign-off or opinion.
At some point, you’ll receive a passive aggressive email (subject: Rules before the BIG DAY – yay!) detailing what is required of you prep-wise:
- the dresses are palest pink so spray tans are mandatory
- nails will be French-manicured (photo attached for reference)
- PLEASE do not cut your hair up to 6 weeks before the Big Day
- Keep an eye on your weight, no one likes a fatty bridesmaid!!! (LOL JK)
You’ll find yourself praying for a short engagement (or maybe just death) just to end the madness.
The groom is a quiet, timid thing (an accountant or some such) who either worships his bride-to-be or is shit-scared of her, you can’t quite work out which. She had a five-day hen do in Santorini which nearly bankrupted you, featuring a sunset cruise followed by a spa day. Her rock is a planet-sized number from Tiffany’s (natch) and she’s wearing Sarah Burton (yep, just like Kate Middy) on the day. Oh, and she’s been dieting so aggressively that she’s really more quinoa than woman at this point.
The only member of the wedding party more terrifying than the Platinum PITA is her mother. A militant matriarch who has been waiting for this moment her whole life, this woman is to be appeased at all costs. When she’s not barking orders at frightened, scurrying ushers on the day, she’s screaming at caterers in her Hobbs twin-set. You won’t see her husband. He’s quietly drinking Scotch in a corner somewhere.
How do you deal with this bride? You don’t. You quietly move to Peru, change your name, change your number and hope she never finds you.
Which package am I offering my own bridesmaids? I think I’ll go full Platinum. Hold onto your hoo-hahs, girls…