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4 Things I learnt being a bridesmaid 5 times

By Michelle Brownlee Smith, GLAMOUR’s deputy editor and beauty director.

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I love weddings. The creativeness, the celebration of love, the pretty frock I have an excuse to buy. But when you’re a bridesmaid, the rules shift a little: you aren’t swept away in the romance and presentation. You’re there to calm nerves, make party favours, organise guests, control any crises and look pretty while doing it. It’s hard work, but here’s what I’ve learnt and why I’d say yes again if asked.

1 It’s not about you, it’s all about the bride
Pretty dresses, girlie time and stunning photos are not a reason to say yes to being a bridesmaid. When asked, know that you’re signing up for hard work, huge support and for being an all-round helper. And that’s OK, because you love the bride and you’ll do anything to make her feel special on her big day. (If you don’t, think long and hard before saying yes.) And if the bride wants you to wear a hessian sack, you say yes. Lumo green shoes? No problem! She shows you something she loves, you back her up – especially in front of a tricky in-law. When she asks for an honest opinion on her dress/hair/jewellery, be as diplomatic as possible, knowing that it’s her choice, her body and her style. She may take your opinion, but if she doesn’t, it’s your job to gush over the one she chooses.

2 You’ll never wear your bridesmaid dress again
Every bride, no matter what dress (or pinstripe suit) she chooses for you, says, ‘At least it’s a design that you’ll wear again.’ Heck, even I was that bride. The truth is that if you happen to love the dress and you do choose to wear it again, it’s the exception and a huge bonus! That dress is chosen to suit the bride’s vision of her big day. It might be style you like, but not a colour you’d normally wear. Or, you love the colour but would never normally go for an above-the-knee length. I’ve worn a shimmery blue dress A-line number, a black chiffon style, a pinstripe suit, a charcoal one-shoulder frock and a cerise pink, flowing gown. In my industry I attend quite a few formal functions so I’ve had opportunity to wear one or two of those again, but even then, it never quite feels like me. Saying that, I have worn the accessories again. So if you are paying for your own dress and accessories, it’s worth splashing out on shoes, earrings and hairpieces you love – those have great mileage.

3 It’s pricey, but see it as an investment
Long before the wedding day, you’ll already feel the pinch. You’re organising the hen party, the outfit and the bachelorette gift. Here the lines get very blurry as to what you’re sponsoring and what the guests will pay for. Do what you can afford, ask people to contribute and organise something that works within everyone’s budget. If there are a few bridesmaids, be upfront with what you’re willing to spend so that everyone knows where you stand and there are no surprises at the end. Once the wedding rolls around, you may need to pay for accommodation, pamper sessions with the bride and another gift. So where is the payback? One day you too will be the bride and you’ll appreciate all the effort people made to make you feel special.

4 Your job lasts long after the wedding is over
It’s important that everyone remembers that there is a lifelong marriage attached to the wedding. Once the party has become nothing more than memories in a photo album and the honeymoon is over, you’re still there to support the bride. It’s up to you to remind her of the things that she first loved about her husband, to be there when things aren’t going as smoothly and to encourage her to work through tough times. After all, aren’t these things you would do for your girlfriends anyway?

What have you learnt being a bridesmaid? Tweet us at @GLAMOUR_sa with #GLAMWedding to share.

Click here to meet managing editor Sarah Browning’s bridesmaids.

Glamour International