Years ago, when I was just getting started in the wedding industry, one of my best friends got engaged. The plan was to have her sister as her Maid of Honor and her brother-in-law as the Best Man, nice and simple. Then, a few months before the wedding she called and said "I think I would really like to have you and a few other girlfriends as bridesmaids... I just think the idea of being around a gaggle of girls that I love will make my wedding day that much better."
Of course, I said yes, because that's what you do when you are asked to be a bridesmaid, the same for the other gals in the "gaggle". There were six of us bridesmaids in all. On the day of the wedding, when one of the other bridesmaids refused to get her make up done, another forgot her dress and still another complained about the cold while we were taking photos, my friend the bride looked at me and said "Why did I have bridesmaids? I want to kill these girls."
Little did I know that her refrain would be one that we'd hear over and over and over again: in fact, nearly ubiquitously every time a bride has opted to have more than one or possibly two bridesmaids. Brides who let smarts win out over sentiment know the real truth: Bridesmaids are more trouble than they are worth.
While America riotously laughed at the movie "Bridesmaids," my business partner and I found ourselves cringing at bad behavior that hit too close to home. It was harder to find funny when you deal with it every weekend! Here are the characters: two bridesmaids who don't get along, the odd-ball who in invited out of obligation to a family member, the married bridesmaid who keeps bringing up how she did things at her wedding, the bridesmaid who refuses to actually follow up on anything that is asked of her out of some weird personal issue that she is having that you, the bride, don't seem to understand.
Unfortunately, too many brides see bridesmaids as a necessary requirement for a great wedding day. Part of it is over-romanticism: it's a sweet thought to imagine girlfriends from various stages of your life gathering to comfort you the morning of your wedding and taking photos you will have for all time together. Part of it is functional: often brides imagine their maids helping put together DIY projects and or hosting a terrifically chic shower for you. These visions are rarely proved to be as picturesque as they may live in the mind of a newly engaged bride.
Why? Well, the first fact is that being a bridesmaid is a job. It has a uniform that is often unflattering. It has job requirements; not particularly taxing ones, but they are requirements. Most importantly, being a good bridesmaid requires putting the needs of another over the needs and issues of oneself. This is often this is the part that really trips people up). Yet, unlike other jobs that pay, this job actually costs the bridesmaid money.
Which is part of the second, and most important fact: very few people actually want to be bridesmaids. So, the result is what you would expect of anyone holding a post they were reluctant to take: mediocre performance.
Before you roll your eyes and think about how different and excited YOUR bridesmaids are going to be, I acknowledge that there are exceptions to every rule. That said the happiest, most stress-free brides are often those who skip the bridesmaid tradition and invite a few friends to get ready alongside them on the wedding day. But, for those of you who dare to venture into this tradition, I leave you with these final pieces of advice: expect little, depend on them for nothing, keep their costs down and choose them because you actually just want to enjoy their company.