Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bridesmaid...A Friend First and Foremost

Every girl knows it is an honor to be a bridesmaid. The matching dresses, the flowers, the chance to walk down the aisle as one of the chosen-this is an important role. Even as a child you feel the weight and great importance of the first wedding experience as a flower girl. Gracefully you drop petals upon the church aisle all the while knowing you are the preamble to a beautiful goddess in white. As an adult you are thrilled to have a close friend tying the knot with Mr. Right and even more excited to be a special part of her Big Day. You attend the first dress hunt as it is your duty to offer your honest yet careful opinion; you begin a fitness routine with the bride because strapless is a must and even agree to throw the bachelorette party although that means dealing with a horde pink decorations strewn all over your house after a night of mischief. These are your chores, your assignments to ensure a happy bride and an even happier friendship. You are honored, excited and motivated to be the best bridesmaid that ever tried on a teal dress! You are honored, excited and motivated that is, until you learn that the dress your best bud has picked out is not only more than your rent, but is also oddly reminiscent of Great Aunt Mary’s kitchen wallpaper. The shoes, which you vehemently agreed were “simply lovely” add up to a month’s worth of groceries and the chosen salon is located in a chic area of town that makes Rodeo Drive look like a superstore parking lot. Suddenly, this honor becomes an undertaking that seriously threatens to wipe out your 401K, make you look like a kitchen wall from 1972 and create a fear of walking because God forbid you damage the bright yellow stilettos that match the God forsaken dress. Slowly a resentment as big as the bow on the back of the million dollar frock develops for the friend you once adored. How can you make this work? Could you skip eating for a month or sell all your furniture? What if you decided that up-do’s are against your religion and you must settle for a simple blow-out. Or, against every fiber of your being and your upbringing, could you politely inform your friend that you just cannot financially make it work?

Whether we like to admit it or not, most women have faced a similar situation. Bound by a love that only a flowered dress could destroy, we strive to be the reliable friend, the girl that comes through in a pinch and the bridesmaid that will go down in history. The truth is, however, that often times a bride is so wrapped up in choosing a cake flavor that bridesmaid costs are the last thing on her mind. And although you are clearly special to her, do not count on being spared the hideous price. A bride wants what she wants and any attempt to sway her decision may result in a meltdown the size of Texas. Rather than going the “That dress is ridiculous” route, try a more gentle approach. This girl is your friend first and foremost; try not to forget that. There once was a time when you and she talked about life’s little up and downs rather than her new mother-in-law’s split personality. Remember those days? Attempt to get back to that place with her; take her to dinner or go on a long walk. Find the friend that you so dearly love and then try out the best motto known to the human race: honesty is the best policy.
Seated over a couple sparkling cocktails give your friend what she deserves to know and what you need to say in order to still be able to retire before you are 100…the truth. Although you may be looking for a magic bullet to avoid actually having the awkward “I cannot afford it” conversation, the best way to appeal to your once sane friend is to simply spill the beans. Difficult as it may be at first, a true friend will understand your dilemma and let you off the hook. To help ease the blow offer to help out in other ways such as assisting with the guestbook, passing out programs or even ensuring that the groom actually wakes up on the wedding day. Disappointed as she may be, a dear friend will appreciate your efforts to remain a vital part of her most special day and will eventually grow to admire your honesty.

Charming as this scenario may be once all is said and done, it is important to remember that along with honesty, timing is also an important piece of the puzzle. Remember the bride is counting on you to complete her vision of the perfect wedding so delaying the delivery of bad news will only place undue stress on an already overworked friend. Exercise the rule of carpe diem when approaching the sensitive subject to avoid an unnecessary blowout with a friend and remember to state your gratefulness for the invitation as many times as you can possibly muster. In a perfect world I would love to tell you that is a foolproof plan, but as we all know, this world is not perfect and brides are typically not firing on all cylinders. Keep in mind that the preservation of a good friendship is the ultimate goal and that even if you are have to participate by folding 200 tissues into roses at least you can wear a solid color dress and not end up living with your parents again.

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