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Being The Best Bridesmaid You Can Be

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You're soaking in the tub after a crushing day of work when your phone starts ringing off the hook. You begrudgingly answer only to be confronted with the loudest shriek you've ever heard. After recovering from momentary deafness, you recognize your BFF's voice on the other end. Once she's taken her first deep breath, you learn that her boyfriend is now her fiancé and you are now one of her bridesmaids, making you a few months shy of wearing what could be compared to a nightgown in front of 250 of her closest friends.

So how do you react in that situation to ensure that you and your bestie are still talking at the end of her weddingathon? You do the only thing you can. You put on the show and turn it out, best friend forever style.

I've had the honor four times in my life, with one more bridesmaid experience pending this summer. I feel safe saying that I've earned my bridesmaid's stripes at this point, and what I know for sure is that there is clearly a right and wrong way to do this whole bridesmaid thing.

Shall we?

1) Be the best version of yourself.

Being a bridesmaid means accepting a large responsibility. I mean, your girlfriend is gonna remember this day for the rest of her life, for better or for worse, so when she asks you to be in her wedding party, know what you're signing up for when you say, "I do!" If you don't think you have what it takes to live up to the festivity's expectations (bridal shower, bachelorette party, dress fittings, the cost of it all), you can always deny the invitation and back out before disappointing anyone. But if you find yourself squealing with delight, thrilled to be a part of all the fun, do what you can to protect such memories. This could mean shielding your boyfriend from seeing your friend in her wedding dress before the groom (sorry KT!) or preventing her from drinking too many Mai Tai's and passing out before the customary first dance (I'm more of a mojito girl myself, so...). By accepting your place in the wedding party, you're giving the bride the go-ahead to say to all of her invited guests that you're an important part of the couple's life. Be the best version of yourself and make sure that you're still a #1 friend by the Sunday brunch.

2) Party like it's 1999!

So now that you've joined the party, be the party I say!! Let your bride know that she made the right choice having you by her side. I'm always a fan of throwing the bachelorette party, although I've hosted my fair share of bridal showers as well. What I've learned is that you don't have to spend a fortune to have a good time. Throwing a shower should be as pressure-free as possible. I love doing potluck parties, where every girl whips up their favorite go-to dish. You wouldn't be surprised to find me in the kitchen making cocktails straight from the pages of Cosmo. Not a big fan of Vegas? Not a big deal! Bring Vegas to you and save yourself the three-day hangover! I've had a stripper in a leopard and leather thong bikini dancing in my living room, boom box and all. It was one of the best bachelorette parties ever because we felt safe letting loose in the comfort of one of our homes. Make the most of a special moment by being willing to do what you can to get the party started.

3) Get along with the rest of the bridal party... or else!

Here's the trick to the whole bridesmaid thing: Just get along with the other ladies. You don't have to like them, you don't even have to remember their names, you just have to smile and tell them how great they look in the cranberry Laura Ashley concoction you're all stuck wearing. Together you are the team that is responsible for setting the tone of your bride's experience. Deep down you all want your best friend to have the best wedding day ever, so do what you can to get along and give the bride one less thing to worry about.

If you're the girl who wants to be the bridesmaid captain, take charge in the easiest way possible, by including as many people into the process as you can. Everyone just wants to contribute and be a part of making the event magical. If you're happy to go along with the flow, show up on time and be grateful that someone went to so much trouble to make this bridesmaids team a real winner!!

4) Keep your wedding speech short, sweet and from the heart.

There's a pretty good chance that by accepting a place in the wedding party, you're gonna be expected to speak. Two words: Short and sweet and to the point. Okay, so that was seven words, but you know what I'm taking about. No one likes listening to speeches that ramble on and on with no focus, especially while their eight-ounce filet is getting cold. I've had the pleasure of giving three wedding speeches, two of which I nailed. Hey, I'm an actor, I know when I'm on. My Oscar-worthy speeches focused on how thrilled I was to watch someone I love move her life forward in such a beautiful way. That's all you have to do. Convey your excitement to be a part of her journey, while wishing her and the groom the best of luck ... and then grab the hottest guy you can for a spin around the dance floor. Hey, if you're gonna wear a nightgown for a party dress, you might as well see what it looks like crumbled up on the floor the following morning ... Happy Bridesmaiding!!

You can follow Shiri on Twitter @shiriappleby and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShiriAppleby