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March 2011

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The Bridesmaid’s Bill of Rights

Think prenups are only for Mr. and Mrs.? Think again!


"Will you?” When my childhood BFF took my hands in hers in the midst of a holiday gathering and asked me to be her maid of honor, our tearful mothers joked that she had just “proposed.” But within their sass lay a shred of truth: accepting an engaged pal’s proposition of maidhood is akin to getting married, and after being called into attendant service half a dozen times and serving as a greeter and sometime cake-cutter even, I’ve learned that the months leading up to the altar can leave any friendship, well, altered. So as a practiced lady in waiting—and a one-time enlisting bride myself—I have some advice for those of you conscripting your courts.

Have a little respect (even before the DJ cues Aretha). A pal once asked me which pumps best matched her frock—“pale white” or “passion white”—but scoffed when I suggested “pearl” instead. Honestly, I felt like kicking her right in the bustle. Yes, we know it’s all about you, but please mind your Ps and Qs as we help you to and down the aisle—you wouldn’t have “hired” us if you didn’t once trust us to steer you right.

Save the w(h)ine for the toast. After witnessing a stranger bride shriek at her mother and ’maids in the middle of a gown boutique for not properly pampering her, I concluded that no one looks pretty during a tantrum. Sure, weddings are stressful, and we all want you to lean on us, but keep in mind that venting has its proper place, volume, recipient, and (short) lifespan. And as for full-on tantrums? How about we leave those to the little ones—and by “little ones” we mean children, not your supporting cast.

Ms. Post might grant three months to send thank-yous, but I say share gratitude early and often. When a nor’easter watered down a bachelorette weekend I’d spent months organizing, I did my best to keep the honoree’s grumpy girlfriends from drowning the whole affair in their soggy attitudes. Afterward, receiving a sunny note from the bride expressing her gratitude made it all worthwhile. (That pearly token of her appreciation didn’t hurt, either). My point? A little thanks along the way will help your helpers make it to the Big Day.

Emphasize the “honor”—not the “maid”—in “maid of honor.” While I happily helped my DIY college roommate pretty up pews with swathes of tulle and then glued crystals to her veil hours before her shining moment, I would’ve preferred someone else clean up the dance floor prior to the announcement of Mr. and Mrs. I mean, really? Let’s just say there comes a time when task mastering should take a break.

Whether or not you follow the Bridesmaid’s Bill of Rights to the letter, we attendants still promise to hold your hand when things don’t go right, your bouquet when they eventually do, and your crinolines when you need to visit the little girls’ room in your gown. For better or worse, we will see that you make it down the aisle cool and confident in all your lip-glossed glory, nary a covered button out of place. Why? No matter if you’re not always yourself during the whole process, we are thrilled to hold such a special place in your wedding (even wearing a taffeta terror of a dress), because you’re worth it. We’ve been friends since boys were gross. We’ve donned toilet paper veils and walked down the playroom aisle. And we’ll be glad to be by your side as you step into wife world. For that, my friend, I surely say, “I will.”




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