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How Miserable Is It to Be a Bridesmaid?


(Illustration via MamaMia)

The sad lament of the bridesmaid is well known in song and story, and urban legend, and bridal reality shows, and popular movies… and the list goes on ad nauseum. Nearly every woman I’ve ever known has had a horror story in her back pocket about being a bridesmaid – whether her own experience or one a friend of a friend read about in a magazine once upon a time – to tell anyone who announces her engagement or that she’s about to attend a bride. There are websites devoted to ridiculing horrible bridesmaid’s dresses past. There’s currently an article up on MSNBC about how rotten – and incredibly expensive – it is to be a bridesmaid.

But how bad is it really?
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Bridesmaids, Remember to Budget!

For some, being asked to serve as a bridesmaid is both an honor and a burden. Time spent assembling complicated wedding invitations or funneling candy into favor boxes is one thing; money spent is quite another. I’d wager that most of you reading this would be happy to accompany a friend as she shops for her wedding gown or samples wedding cake. Would you be as pleased if you found out this same friend expected you to pay $600 for bridesmaid attire? Or if she made it clear that her idea of the perfect bachelorette party is a week in Cancun paid for by her attendants?

bridesmaids-dresses

It’s not uncommon for bridesmaids or a maid-of-honor to accept a wedding party post without knowing what they’re getting into. That’s why there are books like Everything Bridesmaid: From Planning the Shower to Supporting the Bride, All You Need to Survive and Enjoy the Wedding and The Bridesmaid Handbook and The Bridesmaid Guide: Etiquette, Parties and Being Fabulous and even The Quintessential Wedding Guide … Maid of Honor.

In other words, while first-time maids and MOHs may not know quite what’s expected of them, there are plenty of how-tos out there ready to help. Get your dress on time, they say. Throw a bridal shower. Bustle the gown. Herd the groomsmen. Hold the bride’s bouquet. Give a speech. And so on.

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DIY: Bridal Shower (or Wedding Favor) Scratch-Off Game

If you’re a bridesmaid looking to insure that people attending a bachelorette party or shower actually talk to one another or a bride who wants to be sure that no one will be bored at the reception, wedding-themed scratch-off tickets may be the answer. These scratch-off game cards are like lottery tickets, but instead of revealing that, no, you didn’t win any cash, they reveal trivia questions about the couple to be married meant to inspire discussion among bridal shower guests or wedding guests sitting at the same table.

bridal-shower-scratch-off

It’s a cute idea for those with extra cash to spread around on useless-but-fun favors, but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea… especially since they can cost up to $1 per card, money perhaps better spent on a truly conversation-worthy cake. But that’s all right, since Mitsy at ArtMind has posted DIY instructions for scratch-off tickets you can customize any which way.

diy-scratch-off-game

It looks easy enough to personalize with your own text and wedding colors — the hardest part would probably be coming up with and printing out the different cards.

LOVE/HATE: The Stand-In Edition

It never occurred to me to carry anything other than my choreography notes at my wedding rehearsal. Yes, I was that bride-to-be, with the list of who was to stand where and enter when, plus who exactly needed to remember what. I’m thorough, or at least I thought I was. Apparently, according to some sources, I ought to have been carrying a rehearsal bouquet made of all the ribbons that graced the gifts I opened at my bridal shower. Oops?

I was fully aware of the bridal shower paper plate hat tradition, even if I ended up with a ribbon-covered sombrero because the Mexican restaurant where my bridal shower was held didn’t have any paper plates. No one offered to whip me up a post-shower bouquet and it never struck me to desire one. In fact, I’d never even seen one at a rehearsal or in rehearsal pictures, so at the time I wasn’t even aware that a bride-to-be might carry bows and ribbons in place of an actual bouquet (or anything at all) at the rehearsal.

Ribbon bouquet

But apparently they do, or some do, somewhere. I know from having seen a friend’s sister whip up a ribbon hat that some ladies have the skills to pay the bills where bridal shower novelty headgear is concerned, so I can say that I’m fairly sure one could make a rather nice looking bouquet provided that shower guests did not decorate their gifts with anemic, oddly-colored ribbons. Those brides-to-be who have not yet had their bridal showers AND love the bouquet stand-in idea should point their MOHs toward some of the ribbon bouquet tutorials out there:

So ribbon rehearsal bouquets… I don’t love the idea or hate the idea. I guess I feel kind of lukewarm about it. What say you? Do you plan to carry a ribbon bouquet during your rehearsal? Have you even ever heard of this?

LOVE/HATE: The bridal shower games edition

The fabulous Ashley recently sent me a link to twenty bridal shower games and I couldn’t help but think of my own shower. We didn’t play any games, but my mother did make me wear a extra-large sombrero festooned with ribbon removed from all the presents. I wore the hat because I am a ham and will do whatever it takes to remain the center of attention. Don’t believe me? I even did a little dance!

Many of the games requiring personal knowledge of the wedding couple (e.g., the Couple’s Roast) wouldn’t have worked, since none of the people I actually hang out with on a semi-regular basis could make it to the shower. I believe that only two non-family members at the shower had ever met The Beard! But there are plenty of games that don’t require anyone in attendance to know anything about the groom OR the bride. Here are a few examples:

Mystery Toilet Paper Game
When guests show up, hand them a roll of TP and tell them to tear off whatever length they think they’ll need. Do not explain what it’s for. When the shower is in full swing, try to fit each length of TP around the bride’s body in the bustular area. Whoever has the length that is closest to her bust size wins. You can modify this game for height or waist size if you’d rather not think about the bride’s boobs.

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Clearly tacky?

I was going to dig into my archives today today to finally feature some of those previously answered reader questions that are waiting for their 15 minutes, but I received a query yesterday afternoon that was too intriguing to put off. The question was simply this:

Have you heard of cellophane parties? Apparently, this is a “new tradition” in bridal showers where guests are asked to wrap their shower gifts in cellophane. Gifts are then displayed on a table for other guests to see, but the bride never unwraps them all, presumably “saving” everyone from a tedious, lengthy gift-unwrapping session. Are these as tacky as they sound?

Color me out of the loop, for I have never, ever heard of a cellophane party. The term itself conjures up images of wild fêtes of yesteryear best forgotten, but brings to mind nothing even remotely resembling an event that typically includes grandmas and great aunts. For the person who posed the query, I did a Google image query with SafeSearch off and still found naught but cellophane and boobies of the usual mammarical variety.

As for cellophane showers, I could not, in all my searches, find a single mention of this supposed new tradition. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of watching people open gifts because it seems so third grade, but that’s pretty much what a shower is all about. Like you said, without the unwrapping, the oohs and ahhs, and the making of the silly hat, it starts to seem like a gift grab. “Here’s a bacon-wrapped scallop and a glass of champagne, now hand over the loot!”

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A recipe for a solid bachelorette bash

FUN FUN FUN!

No one threw a bachelorette party for me. I know, wah wah wah. My bridal shower ended up being slightly weird because a goodly handful of my friends never received invitations. This was probably due in part to the fact that my MOH was 16 years old. All I know is that I dutifully gave up the names and contact info they asked me to provide and that’s where my responsibility ended.

I heard from numerous girlfriends in the days leading up to the affair, all of whom were sooo sorry they couldn’t attend but they’d only just heard about it and simply couldn’t travel out of state on such short notice. At the time I was too busy working three jobs and planning a wedding to lost much sleep over it, but it was a tad disappointing.

To make a long story even longer, a bachelorette party would have been nice, but the only person who suggested one was my soon-to-be ex-stepmother and her idea of a good bachelorette party is going out for a rowdy evening with the gals the night before the wedding. Get hitched with a hangover? No thanks!

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