It was the ultimate display of love when the royal bridal party gathered inside Westminster Abbey last Friday. And I’m not talking about the devotion of the beaming newlyweds but of that between Kate Middleton and her younger sister, Pippa.
Despite adhering to tradition during the regal nuptials, the radiant bride parted with convention in happily allowing her maid of honour to cut an equally striking figure.
As many a neurotic bride and long-suffering bridesmaid can attest, it’s not every ceremony where an attendant is granted the opportunity to showcase her curves in a slinky number.
When planning my wedding six years ago, I remember briefing the hair and make-up artist ahead of her getting my bridesmaids ready for the big day. They were wearing black floor-length halter gowns inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s so I had quite specific ideas on an Audrey Hepburn-esque French roll when it came to their hairstyle.
“Glamorous but not too overdone” was the slightly more relaxed vision I had for their make-up. Acutely aware I was in danger of teetering into bridezilla territory at any given moment, my final instructions were “They are beautiful girls wearing a gorgeous dress so basically the goal is simply helping them to look as good as they can.”
It was a pretty unremarkable request, or so I thought until I saw her reaction. “Look as good as they can…” she echoed with a quizzical smile. “You don’t hear that from every bride.”
It was a conversation my two bridesmaids – my sister and a dear friend – later laughed over as we conjured up visions of brides ordering stylists to hijack the appearance of their unsuspecting attendants with lashings of unflattering applied eyeshadow.
Not, I hasten to add, that I’m above such vanity. Like every bride I was preoccupied with my own appearance as I sashayed down the aisle, but I fail to see the wisdom in this particular strategy.
After weeks of paying meticulous attention to every detail, from the lettering on the invitations to the table settings, why undermine that by forcing the bridesmaids into a puffy-sleeved monstrosity accessorised with a poodle perm?
Ultimately a wedding is an expression of the values and style of the bride and groom, so it’s hardly a flattering reflection on their taste to unleash a bridal party who look like they have washed up from the set of Dynasty.
Knowing her appearance would be scrutinised by a global audience of billions as she navigated her way down the marathon-length aisle of Westminster Abbey, it would have been tempting for the Duchess of Cambridge to stop her sister from squeezing into a dress with such showstopping potential.
But to her infinite credit she was gracious enough to let Pippa draw plenty of admiring glances of her own. Not since Kylie Minogue went spinning around in a pair of gold hotpants have the Brits been so excited over a pert derriere.
It’s nearly impossible to upstage the bride, particularly when she happens to be the future Queen of England, so Kate was never in serious danger of being overshadowed.
Even so, it was a poignant reminder of the selfless ties that can exist between women – especially sisters. And proof that, even on a bride’s wedding day, there’s room for more than one scene-stealing beauty.
Been a bridesmaid? Did you survive? If you’ve been married, what did you make your bridesmaids wear? Feel free to upload photographic evidence…..
And here is a gallery of some bridesmaids dresses to remember…..