Archive for January, 2007

Spiders, butt bows, and bridesmaid baditude

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

I now present to you the winning entry in my little Bad Bridesmaid contest, submitted by a lovely lady who prefers to be known simply as R. for reasons that will soon become obvious. Her story is below.

Fifteen years ago, my brother got married in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At the time, I was studying at university in Paris and so my brother flew me to KL to be a bridesmaid. I had not met his fiancée. In fact, no one in my family had. But we knew from my brother’s letters that he was lovesick, and we were all thrilled for him.

After 18 hours of travel, I got off the plane in KL, hot, tired, and rumple, but excited about the exotic Eastern experiences I was so sure lay ahead of me. My brother hugged me. My sister-in-law-to-be forced a wan smile, said hello, then turned to my brother and said, “Thank God she’s prettier than your other sisters. I mean, if she’s going to be in my wedding party.” I was stunned when my brother didn’t react to her comment. Welcome to Malaysia, indeed.

On the drive to my brother’s place, suffering as I was in horribly humid, impossibly oppressive weather that I was not accustomed to, my brother’s fiancée fretted aloud about my size. The other bridesmaids were Asian and “tiny,” she stressed. I, at 5’10″ and 135 pounds, was apparently akin to Gargantua and/or Mama Cass Elliott. Would there be enough fabric in all of Asia to cover me at the wedding?

Unfortunately, there was. Had there not been, perhaps I would have been sent back to Paris. I could have been spared wearing the lilac — yes, lilac — poofy-sleeved, poofy-skirted monstrosity with the ginormous bow on the hips and the exactly matching shoes. Actually, the dress in itself was not such a problem. I was in my early 20s then, and didn’t look too silly in such a creation. But there were two problems, and being a bad bridesmaid, I was not quiet about them.

The first was that the bow on the dress landed squarely on my hips. My hips are the widest part of my body and don’t need attention drawn to them. (Putting a gaudy large bow on them is like sticking a corsage right on Raquel Welch’s chest.) So…I complained about the bow to the tailor in charge of the bridal party’s attire. Naturally, my future sister-in-law shot me the death rays. But being a maverick has its benefits, and as soon as I kvetched, two other bridesmaids piped in that they, too, didn’t much care for the bow. Pretty much all the bridesmaids wound up bow-less and a wee bit happier. The bride was ticked, but in private two of the bridesmaids thanked me for “speaking up.”

The second problem was the fitting for the shoes. I had terrible, painful bunions then (I have since had surgery on both feet), and was very self-conscious about appearing barefoot in front of others. At the shoemakers, with my future sister-in-law and the band of bridesmaids at hand, I was made to remove my shoes so the grizzled old Chinese obbler could measure them. I had asked in advance if I could have privacy. My brother suggested I was being unreasonable. He told me no one would even look at my feet, or if they did, they wouldn’t say anything. But as soon as my shoes were removed, two of the bridesmaids squealed. “Ooh, you’ve got really awful bunions. Why don’t you do something about them? Why don’t you have surgery? My mother has those. They’re so ugly.” Et cetera. I started crying.

And I kept crying all the way back to my brother’s place. He chewed me out the whole way — me in the back seat like a child, he and his fiancée up front, sanctimonious and angry. He said, in the dramatic manner that runs in my family, “If you ruin my wedding, I’ll never talk to you again.” How on earth could I ruin his wedding by crying a few days before, I wondered? Once back at his place, he ordered me out on the patio, so he and his fiancée could “talk about this privately.” Talk about what? Me? I was too tired to fight. I had no one in my corner anyway and no money of my own — certainly not enough to get a hotel room.

But I objected to going outside, because — and my brother knew this about me — I had (and have) lifelong arachnophobia. EXTREME arachnophobia. The kind of arachnophobia where one is rendered paralyzed by the sight of a millimetre-long octoped. And in Malaysia, when you’re not in an air-conditioned environment, spiders abound. Big, hairy, stripey, creepy ones. Nonetheless, I was banished to the outdoors, and found myself surrounded by the eight-legged. Beckoned back inside a half hour later, shaking from terror, my brother informed me that he had been speaking on the phone with two of the other bridesmaids (one who was a sister of the bride), and that they both agreed I was awful and childish and a horror to have around. I wondered if these were the same bitches who thanked me for improving the hideous bridesmaids’ dresses by speaking up.

On top of all of this, I was getting heat rash and sunburn. I was not used to the humidity and the soaring-above-100-degree temperatures. The entire bridal party was taking a trip to stay with the bride’s parents (who lived in the same village whence came Yul Brynner’s wife, I was breathlessly informed). My brother had promised me that I would have the one air-conditioned guestroom in the parents’ house, in order to keep spiders at bay, and in order to ease my itching heat rash. But once we arrived, I was told that he and his fiancée were getting the comfortable room. Being a bad bridesmaid, I complained…to deaf ears. “But you promised,” I whined. “I changed my mind,” my brother snapped.

So I stayed in the hot guestroom and had a nightmare. The nightmare was that I needed to pee, and a big hairy spider was attacking me. In the nightmare, I lost control and began to…you can guess, pee. Sure enough, I woke up wetting the bed AND with a big, icky spider walking across the mattress. (It was all very Brady Bunch in Hawaii.) I was too frightened and shocked to scream but, thankfully, managed to get my bladder control back. I grabbed a pillow (as armour against the arachno-beast), and ran down the hall to the bathroom (where there were lizards).

In the morning, embarrassed, mortified, and every other such adjective, I confessed to the bride’s mother about the mess in my room. My brother’s future mother-in-law was super-kind, the one bright spot in the week. I cried and cried and told her I was miserable. She arranged for me to call my sister. I begged my sister to send me money to leave. “Stick it out, please,” she told me. “Just get through the wedding.”

I did. And I must say, I looked really beautiful — if furious — even in that godforsaken dress. In spite of what my sister-in-law dissed as my huge size, I looked far better than the puny, little local bridesmaids. Sadly, my brother was so mad at me that he and his wife never sent me any wedding pictures. I have (but for one fuzzy picture), no proof of how good I looked, night-of-the-spider notwithstanding. Even more sadly, my brother and I did not speak for some time after that. He probably thought I should have been a more mature bridesmaid, which I probably should have been, and I thought he and his now-wife should have been more sympathetic to their young, visiting bridesmaid, which they most definitely should have been.

To end on a happy note, I can honestly say we are all close now — though (or maybe because), we have never since talked about our common saga.

Scary, no? Thanks everyone for your submissions. I really enjoyed reading them, giving thanks all the while that none of my engaged pals have asked me to stand beside them during their nuptials!

The (almost) mid-week variety hour

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

The alway-fabulous Sterlingspider sent me this example of what a little advanced planning can accomplish:

Too lighthearted for ya? Sharp-eyed Julie found this video, which is either an example of a semi-funny fake or a true (yet avoidable) wedding day disaster. You decide.

Twistie, who rocks, pointed out this…questionable gown on

Some take their obsessions too far

And, finally, the lovely M. offers up this poignant warning:

N.t.B., please remind your readers that if they order a dress at a store, they should go to see it right away, even if their first fitting isn’t for a while.

M., smart cookie that she is, ordered her dress nine months ahead of time. A move to another state and various other “real life” issues made getting to the salon for a looksee a difficult proposition, however. Unfortunately, when she went in for her first fitting and the clerk unzipped the garment bag, she was dismayed to discover that IT WAS THE WRONG DRESS. Luckily, the salon is working with her to get the right dress, on time.

A deadline and a reconsideration

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Okay…since I know there were some of you who planned to submit Bad Bridesmaid stories but haven’t gotten around to it yet, I’m extending my contest deadline to Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST. That’s two more days for you to send me your quirky, scary, funny, and horrifying bridesmaid stories!

Now, that said, I’d like to revisit the butterfly release issue. I received some very, very gentle flack from readers who have had traumatic butterfly experiences. And Elizabeth Stacey was kind enough to remind me that animal releases of all sorts are usually no fun for the animal themselves. Why this didn’t enter into my thoughts — being a vegetarian and animal lover — from the very beginning is beyond me. But when you gals are right, you’re right.

So, by way of an apology to all the butterflies out there who have been stuffed into cramped and dark boxes for shipping purposes, I created this badly done up jpeg using Paint:

Just say no to butterfly releases!

Those poor women

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Ah, bridesmaids. I have been, to date, a bridesmaid once and a MOH once. I played the former role at one of my dad’s weddings and was about nine or so years old, which meant I didn’t have to do anything except light some tapers and walk down the aisle. I played the latter role at the wedding of a good friend who was gracious enough to forgive my being too busy and too poor to contribute anything to her wedding prep.

I mean, I did absolutely nothing. I neither planned, nor attended her shower or bachelorette parties. I hadn’t seen her in so long that I showed up on the day of the wedding and was absolutely stunned to discover that she was about eight months pregnant. I am pretty sure that makes me a Bad Bridesmaid. Ah, well, it could have been worse.

Much worse, according to the stories Siri Agrell shares in Bad Bridesmaid. From brides who reneg on their promise to let their attendants choose their own dresses to the bridesmaids who pay penance for bad hair decisions by wearing wacky (and uncomfortable) wigs, the horror stories in this book will make you cringe even while making you laugh. Sometimes the dress just doesn’t arrive in time. And then there are bridesmaids clad in bubblegum pink and powder blue who only wish the dresses hadn’t arrived in time.

In between tales sent in by readers of Agrell’s column, which I mentioned yesterday, she examines the hows and whys of the indignities borne by bridesmaids who truly do want nothing more than to see “their” brides happy and get burned anyway. Think domineering brides saving a buck by having her bridesmaids get their makeup done at mall kiosks…who then make each attendant have her makeup redone four times because it…just…isn’t…right. Or brides who kick bridesmaids out of the wedding party and choose their replacements based on body type. And let’s not forget those color-coded, 90-page-long spreadsheets outlining exactly what each bridesmaid in the party has been selected to do.

Has anyone thought to stage a bridesmaid revolt? Because the notion makes sense to me.

“We’re not,” Agrell writes, “asking for a lot…just a little respect…we want to stop being the whipping girl of weddings and the butt of jokes penned by Hollywood screenwriters who use bridesmaids as shorthand for desperate spinster or psycho singleton.”

Now that you’ve read this review, hop on over to the Bad Bridesmaid web site. As promotional sites go, it’s pretty cool. There is an Extreme Bridesmaid Makeover game, a sweet mock bridesmaids announcement you can send to your own bridal party, and a page where you can send in a Bad Bridesmaid tale or submit a picture of yourself wearing your own taffeta tragedy!

Were you a bad bridesmaid?

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

When Canadian columnist Siri Agrell was dubbed a bad bridesmaid, she decided to do something about it, so she compiled a book of funny and tragic stories from the nuptial front. The resultant work, Bad Bridesmaid: Bachelorette Brawls and Taffeta Tantrums–Tales from the Front Lines, is a collection of stories that highlight the dark side of being a bridesmaid. And I think we all know there is one.

Bad Bridesmaid: Bachelorette Brawls and Taffeta Tantrums--Tales from the Front Lines

I’ll tell you more about the book tomorrow, but I just wanted to get the ball rolling here, because I happened to receive an advance copy of the book to give away! I want you to tell me your absolute worst bridal party experiences. Maybe you were a long-suffering bridesmaid stuck under the thumb of a dictator bride. Or maybe *you* were the bridesmaid from hell, asked to participate in a wedding because the bride needed to round out the wedding party. Even if you were a guest and simply a witness to bad bridesmaid behavior, I want to hear about it.

It’s simple: The writer of the most horrifyingly humorous tale gets the book. E-mail me your stories at by Sunday evening, and I’ll announce the winner on Monday. Then, throughout next week, I’ll share the wackiest and worst bad bridesmaid tales I receive!

Something blue

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

If you’re currently trying to decide on “something blue,” I strongly urge you to look no further than sapphires. I may, of course, be biased. The first piece of jewelry The Beard gave me was a sapphire and diamond ring, so I have a thing for anything gem-cut and deep blue. Even if sapphires don’t fit into your color scheme exactly, a small(ish) pair of post earrings can be an easy way to incorporate everything from sky blue to Kashmir blue into your wardrobe without having to resort to donning a powder blue garter.

Here are a few specimens to get you started:

Genuine Round Sapphire Earrings

14k Genuine Sapphire Earrings

Genuine Octagon Black Sapphire Earrings

According to the International Colored Gemstone Association,

In earlier times, some people believed that the firmament was an enormous blue sapphire in which the Earth was embedded…. The sapphire symbolises loyalty, but at the same time it gives expression to people’s love and longing. Perhaps the most famous example of this blue is to be found in music, in George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. And the blue of the sapphire even appears where nothing at all counts except clear-sightedness and concentrated mental effort. The first computer which succeeded in defeating a world chess champion bore the remarkable name ‘Deep Blue’.

Okay, they may be stretching a bit here…

As they come fluttering by…

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

When butterflies attack!

When it comes to wild animals, I’m of the opinion that they are best left doing what they were designed to do. But that’s my personal view and one not shared by many. Plenty of folks feel that their wedding celebrations are enhanced by the addition of certain wild creatures.

Doves and butterflies quickly come to mind. Now I don’t necessarily think that releasing either of these animals harms them in any way. Heck, it beats letting environmentally destructive helium balloons fly, right? And seeing all those wings flappin’ away is quite a sight.

Amazing Butterflies explains,

If you are planning a butterfly release, you won’t receive the butterflies until the day before your special event. The live butterflies are shipped overnight in specially tailored packages designed for your individual needs. The butterflies arrive in a comfortable resting state until the day of the release. When the packages are opened at the event, light and heat will motivate the butterflies to fly.

Reputable companies feed the butterflies immediately before shipping them, and package them in individual padded containers. The containers are packed into a larger box fitted with a cool pack. The low temperature combined with low light levels keeps the butterflies calm and sleepy during the trip. A truly outstanding release company will ship butterflies that are indigenous to your area so that the freed insects will have plenty to eat and somewhere nice to sleep.

If you are thinking about releasing butterflies on your special day, consider the comfort of these cool little creatures. Butterflies love warm temperatures and bright sunlight, so kindness dictates that they be released only during warmer months. Monarchs, the most popular wedding release butterfly, will only fly when the temperature is above 62 degrees. And they prefer it even warmer than that! If your wedding is taking place in the evening, remember that butterflies need at lease half an hour of daylight to find their way to a comfy roosting spot.

What it boils down to, IMO, is this: Be nice to your butterflies and I bet they’ll be nice to you. A little human-animal interaction can be a really fabulous thing, if done right. Trust me, I know. When I lived in Costa Rica, large native butterflies would often stop and have a bit of a sit down on my flowered bikini. It was neat, to say the least!