A few weekends ago, I spent most of the afternoon crying big ugly tears while sitting in my car and frantically calling my close friends and family to tell them I was at breaking point. I’m done with being a bridesmaid and can safely say it has been ruining my life for the last short while.
I know many of you will cry “overreaction” and tell me how ungrateful I’m being. Being asked to be part of someone’s wedding day is a gift, a blessing, a sign of friendship. Yes, all of that I understand and believe to be true. However, I have been a bridesmaid in my life many times before and never, ever, have a felt this downtrodden.
And it was the dress shopping that broke me.
While having a brief conversation with my boss, we got onto the topic of the fact that I was due to be a bridesmaid and begin the task of looking for bridesmaid dresses with my close friend, the bride, and the rest of her bridal party.
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“There’s something degrading about being told what to wear as an adult, isn’t there?” said quizzed.
She’d hit the nail on the head and a switch in my head flicked. Yes, I thought, this is the exact problem I’m having. Including the weeks spent looking for wedding dresses, we were now descending into out eight week of shopping. All of the bridesmaids have to wear the same thing and nothing, according to the bride, is quite right.
We’ve spent weeks pouring over swatches, ringing designers, visiting bridal boutiques and formal dress shops. I’ve tried on more dresses than I can count and in every one I have felt uncomfortable and out of place. It has never been this hard in the past.
The last time I was a bridesmaid, another friend of mine allowed all of us to choose our own dresses as long as they were on the same colour palette. It worked like a charm. We purchased the first dress I tried on.
I've also been in bridal parties where we've had dresses made and the designer has been accommodating of our shapes and sizes, making sure to go with a style that suited all of us.
When my brother got married, my now sister-in-law purchased our dresses off the rack. Again, there were no problems.
But this time it's different. As expected, all of the bridesmaids are of different shapes and sizes. We all look very different. I've supported my friend where needed and been to every single 'shopping day', appointment and expo. I've listened to her and provided my honest opinion. Yet when we strolled into another bridal shop on that fateful weekend, I came undone.
We began scouring the racks for dresses when the bride laid her eyes on one I instantly despised. The colour was off for my skin tone, a deep maroon, the shape I knew instantly would not suit me. It was fitted, skin-tight and strapless. It had a sequinned bodice with a mermaid bottom showcasing a distinct ruffle.
I put it on to be diplomatic and walked out of the dressing room feeling more exposed than I ever had in my entire life. The other bridesmaids came out of their change rooms too, waddling like ducks as they were unable to move their feet due to the fish tail.
"WE LOVE IT," they all exclaimed and in that exact moment, my heart sunk.
Almost instantaneously they began talking flower bouquets and how the sequin on the top of the dress matched the detailing of the bride's gown and all of a sudden I was left completely out of the equation. The decision had clearly been made without me and my feelings were obviously not being factored into the bride's choice. We all stood in formation in front of the mirror, me at the end, trying desperately to hold in the tears that were welling at the corner of my eyes.
"Do you like it?" the bride asked me, to which I responded a resounding "no". She looked at me, slightly shocked but still with a subtle smile on her face.
"Well, maybe it will grow on you," she responded. "I think you look fine."
The bride then walked over the the other bridesmaids who were giggling with glee and reiterating how gorgeous the dresses looked and how thrilled they were the shopping was over. I stood there in silence as the sales assistant jotted down dress sizes and talked order dates and gave details of when the dresses would arrive.
My only request when it came to bridesmaid dresses what that I feel comfortable in what I was wearing and standing there in the middle of that shop was incredibly confronting. It became about more than just the dress, it became about my close friend not respecting my feelings or taking anything I had to say into account. It made me see her in a completely different light.
The dresses have been purchased and they're due to arrive in the next few months. Every time I think about the idea of having to wear it, I feel sick. I've had serious thoughts about telling my friend I can no longer be in the bridal party as a result. I know, however, if I do so, this will be end of friendship. I know there is no turning back from this moment.
I would much rather be a guest at her wedding than be forced to spend an entire day feeling upset and uncomfortable, though I know this isn't an idea she would accept. She'd take personal offence and that would be the end of that. I've already pulled out of further planning and arranging for the Kitchen Tea and Hen's Night. When the bride asks me to attend something I say that I'm busy.
I can't stand the idea of spending another day feeling hurt, disrespected and ignored by someone who calls herself my friend.
What do you think the bridesmaid should do? Should she drop out of the bridal party or put up with it to save her friendship?