I was thrilled when Maddie told me Tim had finally popped the question. They’d been dating for six years and at 33, they were now ready to take that next step. Despite recently going through a horrendous breakup, I felt nothing but happiness for her.
I was equally thrilled when Maddie invited me to a lavish lunch and asked me to be her bridesmaid. Well, she didn’t exactly ask. She gave me a beautiful bespoke nail polish that read “Will you be my bridesmaid?” on the packaging.
It was over the top, yes, but that’s Maddie. And I wouldn’t have her any other way.
As someone who’d never been a bridesmaid before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Suddenly my diary was being filled with dress fittings, cake tastings, flower brainstorms, high teas, bridesmaid dress shopping, accessories shopping and shoe shopping.
Being a lawyer means time is a precious commodity. I don’t have a lot of it and I cherish a quiet afternoon on my balcony with a glass of pinot gris and a good book. But the wedding and my many bridesmaid-y commitments began to eat into any spare time I was saving for myself.
Watch: Brides share their one wedding regret. (Post continues after video.)
Like I said, I’d never been a bridesmaid before, so how was I supposed to know that Maddie was, well, a bit of a Bridezilla? She was my best friend and I was determined to be supportive.
It’d been three months since my breakup with Darren. “Breakup” almost insinuates it was a clean, quick experience. It was far, far from it. I found out he’d been cheating on me with a girl from his work. Someone I’d met at drinks. Someone who’d been sickly sweet, told me I was “so pretty”, yet was having sex with my boyfriend on the side.
My long, brown, wavy hair featured in every photo with Darren. It started to signify the Old Me; someone I had moved on from. I decided that to draw a line behind that time of my life I needed a change. A hair change.
I decided I was going to cut my hair ‘Jessica Alba bob’ kind of short. With a bit of balayage. Something different. I needed it, and it felt good just thinking about it.
At a rare non-wedding-related Saturday night dinner with friends (Maddie included), I announced my plan after a couple of margarita cocktails. Despite my other friends’ kind looks and words of encouragement, Maddie remained silent. Eyes downcast.
“Were you going to do that soon, or after the wedding?” she stated, an icy edge to her voice.
Her wedding wasn’t for another nine months. 'What a strange thing to ask,' I thought to myself. I explained that no, I hadn’t planned to wait that long.
“It’s just… I really wanted all the bridesmaids to have matching low side ponytails. And you won’t be able to do that if you’ve got short hair,” she said, taking a sip of her drink nonchalantly, although I could tell she was angry. Very angry.
I could sense a few awkward glances around the table.
“Oh, OK. Maybe I could just get a halfway cut and then do the change afterwards?” I said, shocked. (Post continues after gallery.)
I couldn’t believe she was taking an act of survival, of getting over something horrible that happened to me, as me being a rebel bridesmaid.
“Oh, I don’t know, I just really love your hair this length,” she said, a whine to her voice.
“You can still do the balayage though, if it’s not too intense.”
I was shocked by what she was saying. So now I was basically being told my colour change idea wasn’t really that acceptable either. Ridiculous!
I decided to excuse myself to the bathroom and when I returned, conversation was back to normal. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what Maddie had said. We’re 33 years old. Surely we’re mature enough to know someone’s hair and a hairdo at a wedding - an event that lasts about five hours - is not a big deal.
Clearly she’d been thinking about it too. First thing on Sunday morning, my inbox pinged. It was an email from Maddie addressed to myself and all the other bridesmaids with the subject line “Bridesmaids hair.”
In the email, she’d provided inspiration photos of how our hair would look. The ideal length all of our hair should be to pull off the look. She also reiterated how she loved all of our current hairstyles the way they were and emphasised how great our hair would look in her photos - which would last forever.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Here I was wanting to do something for myself, and she was making it all about her.
It’s now been five months since I received that email. I haven’t changed my hair. Haven’t touched it. And Maddie and I haven’t been the same since.
Has your friend ever dictated how you should look at their wedding?