A Letter to Bridesmaids: Be There for Her
Never have I ever felt more lost and confused as I did during the 8 months of our engagement.
And to be honest, it was kind of my fault.
I was so busy planning a wedding that I unintentionally drifted away from friends. Perhaps subconsciously I avoided interactions to protect myself from unwanted opinions from acquaintances about my wedding. Or perhaps I was in a gloomy mindset of, "They're probably too busy to hang out with me" or "They wont care about my stress."
Whatever the reason, I spent most of my time with family who helped with checklists, deadlines, color swatches, invitations, etc.
While I was thrilled to have this kind of support and all the planning was going well, I was still clueless about how to handle the emotional aspect of getting married. I had little to no newly-married friends I could ask, "Are you feeling how I'm feeling?"
So I secretly begged for the comfort of a fellow bride, a bridesmaid, a friend... anyone around my age who identifies as a female who could hold my hand through some tough conversations about preparing for marriage. Not the wedding. And while I had all the support and love in the world as far as the wedding planning goes, I still felt alone at times.
In the middle of the chaos that is wedding planning, my friend Kasey reached out to me out of the blue. Just to catch up. She and I met on the school bus in middle school, but we hadn’t talked in years. When she invited me out to lunch, I took a mental break from deadlines and checklists to spend time with her.
And from that day on, she was there for me during the rest of my wedding planning season.
Kasey gave me hugs when I was frustrated. She listened when I desperately wanted to talk about things other than the wedding, and she understood when I couldn't stop talking about the wedding. She frequently asked, "How can I pray for you? whenever I was stressed.
I lost count of the many times we sat at my parent's kitchen table and hot glued decor for my wedding. She even helped paint my new apartment and attended every bridal shower with a smile and a hug.
Out of all the girls I know - I confided in her the most. And I will never forget that.
Not long after my wedding, it was time for Kasey's happily-ever-after. She found the man of her dreams and prepared for a wedding of her own. When she asked me to be a bridesmaid, I was thrilled. Remembering how she was consistently there for me, I worked hard to be the best bridesmaid/friend I could be. I wanted her to know how much I appreciated her friendship during one of the most stressful and exciting times in my life.
So when it was her turn to cry, I held her. I hosted wine/paint days for us to talk about wedding colors, accessories, and photography. I got her medicine when she was sick. I prayed for her often when she worried (as all brides do).
This is how we bridesmaids (or friends... or any members of the bridal party...) should be with our brides. We need to be there for each other.
It's so easy for us brides to blame our friends for not paying attention to us during engagement season:
"Why haven't they asked how I'm handling all this? I feel like I'm drowning."
"Why won't they read the schedule for the wedding weekend?"
"Why don't they seem happy for me?"
But brides - sometimes, it's our fault.
We forget to ask for help. We're afraid of appearing like a "bridezilla" when we are so overwhelmed we want to vomit. Sometimes we would rather be stressed alone than feel as though we are dragging those we love into our chaos.
But the reality is: life goes on after the wedding, and you'll still need your pals. You can't shut them out. Not now. Not ever.
So if you are a bridesmaid/friend/part of the bridal party:
- Ask her how she's doing (because she's probably having a panic attack)
- Build her up
- Hold her when she cries
- Let her vent for an hour about the budget. Or her mom. Or her in-laws. Or her fiancee.
- Pretend to be just as excited about her wedding shoes as she is
- Distract her with a cheap girl's day with wine and crafting
- Don't give your opinion unless she asks for it
Once you realize that your best friend is experiencing a lot more than shopping for a white gown and receiving fancy kitchen gadgets off a registry, you'll be a better bridesmaid/friend.
Because being engaged is not just about planning a pretty event. It's an exciting, beautiful time, but it's a season filled with unavoidable family drama, breaking budgets, and desperately searching for a balance of work, social life, and wedding planning.
Your best friend is starting a new chapter with her soulmate. She is transitioning into a new lifestyle of becoming a spouse. And she’s probably scared as hell and definitely needs you more than ever.
I think part of the beautiful honor of being a bridesmaid is to truly be there for the bride. Not just on her wedding day, but also as she prepares for one of the biggest, most wonderful steps in her life. What an incredible opportunity for a bridesmaid.
To bridesmaids/friends of the bride who are married:
You know engaged-life can be (is) expensive, stressful, and emotional. Please don't let her walk through this alone.
And to all my beautiful brides reading this:
Surround yourself with people who love you. And ask for help. It is so important during this special time.
*Bridemaids or bridesmen