Friday, June 7, 2013

10 Tips for Bridesmaids (especially broke ones)

Photo by lizzie photo, who are based in Grand Rapids, MI and absolutely amazing. 

One of my childhood besties got married a few weeks ago and I was honored to be a part of the bridal party. This was my first time as a bridesmaid (despite having gotten married myself a few years ago. Always the bride, never the bridesmaid.) I figure future first-timers could learn some things from my various good and bad decisions.

1. Check the sales rack 
If you're doing one of those "same color, different style" (or vise-versa) things, make sure you check the sales rack. I just happened to find a dress of the right color, in a style I really liked, for waaay under list because they were discontinuing that particular color in that particular style (no rhyme or reason at David's Bridal, but there it is.) It needed to be altered to fit me, but the non-sale dresses would've had to as well. If your bridefriend hasn't dictated a particular store (some brides just say "all black" or give you a color family) then you've got a lot of options. The bridesmaids in my wedding wore dresses from actual J Crew bridesmaids' dresses, to things from Asos (the search-by-color is very handy), to $20 dresses from Forever 21 (in my family, getting stuff cheap is a point of pride, so my sister/maid of honor was sure to let me know that tidbit.) Modcloth is a great site for dresses, too.

2. Budget for alterations
Expect that you'll need them, especially if you're all getting dresses from the same source (not every brand fits every body, after all.) Expect that they will cost as much as or more than the dress. Know that the little sheets they give you that say "Alterations from $XX!" are pretty much lying because it will not be $XX. Also know that it costs extra to preserve the pockets when they're resizing things, but luckily you are not much of a crier and the bridesmaid next to you will probably be nice and put extra tissues in HER pockets just in case ;-)

3. Do everything early
Expect everything to take longer than you think it should. Aim to have your dress/shoes/etc in hand and perfectly sized by two months before the wedding...and that should ensure that you've got in time even if murphy's law kicks your ass. Also the earlier you get started, the more likely you won't get rushed into paying more than you want to for things.

4. Buy shoes that fit
Mine did not. They kept slipping off my heels, even after I put heel grips in. I ended up using fashion tape to tape them to my feet, which worked better than you might expect, but was not ideal. Oh! Also! Bring fashion tape! And rubbing alcohol. Trust me.

5. Have a plan for your boobs
If you're already dropping a wad on alterations you might as well have them put bra cups in your dress. Totally worth the $20 not to have to deal with a strapless bra. Plus, they add a little vavavoom, or at least mine did. But if not that, make sure you've got a boob solution that will work with the dress and not peek out during rambunctious photo sessions.

6. Wear the damn hose
I hemmed and I hawwed soooo much about wearing pantyhose. To me, nude pantyhose speaks of going to the office and/or church in the 90's. But also, I am a dark haired girl with lily-white skin and a predisposition towards ingrown hairs and easy bruising. There is a reason that you don't see pictures of me with bare legs! So hose it was, and it looked fine, and kinda helped keep me warm. I think the key is to aim for something that matches your skin tone (no trying to look tanner) and keep it kinda sheer. The first part is tricky if you're as pale as I am, but they're out there. They were only a problem when I had to remove them on the beach, surrounded by groomsmen, so we could do a toes picture (also probably should've painted my toenails. Prepare for all contingencies!)

7. Plan for the reception
Most brides aren't so 'zilla that they won't let you get a little comfier during the reception. Bring flats in the same color as your ceremony shoes (or at least a coordinating neutral) and a nice sweater that goes well with your dress. You may not need it, but it's good to have. And you WILL need the flats, unless you're some sort of goddamn stepford-wife-club-girl who can dance all night in heels after standing around in them all day.

8. Test drive everything
Try it all on. Your friend's wedding day is NOT the day to learn that your underwear shows through the dress, or to try liquid eyeliner when you've never used it before, or to find out that your shoes give you crazy blisters after ten minutes.

9. DIY what you can, but only if you're competent
If your bridefriend is cool with you doing your own hair/nails/make-up it will save you a bundle. I got my nails done, but did it a day in advance at my own salon instead of paying for the one at the resort which was pricier (and honestly...I probably could've done that same nude manicure myself, as long as I managed to be patient and let the layers dry for once. But it's nice to indulge sometimes.) My hair is so short that I was spared the hairstyling question, and I'm pretty good with make-up after all the self-educating I did for Doomsday Knits. Again, practice in advance, but if you can pull it off, go for it. Everyone's looking at the bride anyway, you just have to look presentable but plain enough to make her look good.

10. Remember why you're there 
Brittany (my friend) was like the chillest, least reality-show-nightmare bride ever so this kind of didn't even apply, but speaking as a former bride... weddings are stressful. Your friend is getting married. She's under a lot of pressure. She's probably obsessing over details that don't truly matter in the grand scheme of things but which seem like extremely grave issues right this very second. As long as she's not pulling this shit, suck it up and remember that she's your friend and you love her, and she will probably be normal again after all this is over.... at least til baby fever hits.

(Bonus Tip: These stupid things are surprisingly fun at bachelorette parties.)

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