In May of 2006, I had the honor of walking down the aisle, glowing (and sweating) with pride. With a fresh coat of makeup just reapplied, I tightly gripped my bouquet and began my slow and steady walk. I did a quick "Thank you for not letting me fall" prayer and assumed my position next to my younger sister. We both looked on and admired as our older sister, the bride, prepared to recite her vows. If you have a sister, cousin or close friend, then you know what I'm talking about. Being a bridesmaid or Maid of Honor in the wedding of someone you are close to is almost as exciting, nerve-wracking, anxiety provoking and time consuming as planning your own wedding.
Now imagine that your closest friend or sister is engaged and wants you to be her bridesmaid. After thanking her for the honor (and asking who else will be a bridesmaid), you begin to wonder what you're going to have to wear. You delicately ask if she has begun to think of colors and/or styles. Of course, you would be happy to wear "whatever" she chooses, you know she has "impeccable taste," and yet you ask if she wouldn't mind emailing a picture (or two or three) of the dresses she has in mind for you to wear.
This was pretty much how it went down when I was my sister's bridesmaid, except for one important detail. About three months into helping her plan the wedding, I started to feel a bit nauseous and was more tired than usual. I peed on the stick and got two dark lines: Oh my god -- I was pregnant. I called my husband to communicate the news. He was thrilled, as was I, but he didn't seem to share (or even understand) my worry: What would I do about the wedding? What bridesmaid dress would I wear? Did maternity bridesmaid dresses even exist?
And thus began my quest to find a dress that would enhance the bump. I would be six-months pregnant at the wedding and I wasn't about to squeeze myself into a lilac-colored chiffon and satin dress. After being told to just buy the regular bridesmaid dress "a few sizes too big" I decided to take matters into my own hands. If you have ever been pregnant, you know all too well that your body grows in more ways and directions than you might have ever imagined. Buying a larger size of a non-maternity dress will only get you one thing: Many hours and a lot of money spent at the tailor. (Never mind that you probably won't be thrilled with the outcome).
I spoke to "bridal consultants" and tried on different styles. The oldie-but-goody strapless a-line empire Waist dress was the best fit for me. It came in the right color, and there was a non-maternity version too. I opted for the maternity style; it gave me some growing room and yet I didn't feel like I was wearing a tent.
Choosing the material was key because some fabrics (hello, satin!) show off everything and sweat stains show up quickly and easily. Despite those reservations, I picked silk satin, because I knew all too well how fierce the Florida heat can be during the summer months. (This being my first pregnancy, I didn't realize that Florida heat is nothing compared to pregnancy hormones.) I said "no thanks" to the sash or to the elaborate one shouldered design. Both styles would only highlight my already disproportionate areas. I wanted plain, simple and comfortable. Dancing and eating were going to be my main two activities at this wedding, and I needed a style I could move in, as well as a forgiving waistline that wouldn't punish me for eating one too many desserts.
Thankfully, my sister was no bride-zilla. She was happy to let her wedding party choose the shoes. As long as they were black, she (and we) were happy. I chose a mid-height open-toe Christian Dior sandal. It was strappy, but not too tight or complicated. It was the right choice, given that my feet would be swollen, and my ability to bend over to adjust the straps was limited.
The same idea applied for hair, makeup and jewelry; we were all encouraged to do what felt comfortable and still appropriate. I did something simple and classic. I wasn't about to try the new smokey-eye trend on my tired, puffy eyes. I chose a natural palette, and accented my look with classic, understated pearls.
When I look back at the pictures from my sister's wedding, I don't remember the sweat trickling down my back, or the photographer who asked me to bend, kneel and smile in positions which, at the time, felt nearly impossible. However, I do look at the pictures and realize that being a pregnant bridesmaid (given the right bride) wasn't too shabby. I was frequently offered water, a comfortable chair and even persuaded one of the groomsmen to fan me. My dress fit comfortably and -- thank goodness for Photoshop -- my sweat stains aren't even visible.
Now I am once again glowing with pride as we start to plan my younger sister's wedding. (This time the glow really is from pride). I plan to help the bridal couple have the most perfect wedding. I am determined to make sure that all the bridesmaids, pregnant or not, feel fabulous and beautiful. It's an honor to be part of a wedding, so forget the image you have of the horrible pink ruffles and lace dress, and begin to think of all the wonderful pampering even a pregnant bridesmaid gets to enjoy.
Check out pictures from my sister's wedding, as well as some celebrities who were much more brave than I.