Survival Guide to Being a Bridesmaid

Survival Guide to Being a Bridesmaid

Me with my friend Ruth and my sister Christine, her sister Teresa, and another friend Claire (order is Christine, Me, Claire, Ruth, and Teresa)

Yesterday, I was in the wedding of my best friend growing up.  Before she dropped me off, my mother comforted me with the fact that this special day would be both difficult and wonderful.  “Everyone is nervous at weddings,” she reminded me.  “Perhaps not as anxious as you  but all people experience some of what you are going through right now.”

She was right.  Watching my wonderful friend walking down the aisle through tear-filled eyes, jamming out to “Single Ladies” with her and the other bridesmaids one last time, meeting new people, seeing old friends who were practically family – the past two days brought many memories that I will cherish forever.  In comparison, the terror of eating in front of everyone, being the only bridesmaid to eat lunch, and all of the people making noise seems dull and unimportant.

That is not to say that things were easy.  Many times, I wanted to find a quiet, dark place to hide in for a few hours.  However, this experience was wonderful for the most part.  Even when I struggled, I remembered the reason for being there was my friend Ruth.  After all we have been through together, watching her dress like a princess and gaze lovingly at her now husband filled me with joy.  No matter how hard it had been, I would have stayed there by her side.  Thankfully, the work toward recovery that I have done made these two days far easier and more enjoyable than I thought they might be.  My family’s encouragement, friends’ support, and Ruth’s understanding all helped me through this experience as well.

Yet, being a bridesmaid is not a simple task.  The nerves of looking beautifully, walking down the aisle with a (potentially) strange man, standing in front of hundreds of people, not tripping in your heels and dress – the list of anxieties go on and on.  These are hard for anyone.  However, those who struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, aspergers, PTSD, bipolar, SIB, or other mental/emotional illness have even more fears.

Thus, I compiled a short list of things that I learned from being a bridesmaid.  Some of these suggestions can also relate to being at weddings in general.  My survival guide will be something that I hope to use in the future and continue adding to as I am in more weddings.  If you have any suggestions, please post them in a comment.

  1. Eat three normal meals even if others do not.  This might be miserable but in the long run, it is helping you care for yourself.  Plus, you are less likely to overeat at the reception if you feed yourself regularly throughout the day.
  2. Take the amount of food that you need regardless of who is watching you eat.  People are not watching or judging you as much as you fear.  However, this can be very difficult.  Thus, try your hardest to have what your body needs both in quantity and variety.  However, do not push yourself over the edge.  Maybe have most of your meal at the wedding but eat a bit afterward to make up for skimping there.
  3. If you have scars on your body from self-harm, find a way to cover them.  If that is not possible, put lotion on your skin and walk with confidence.  People might not even notice what you think is extremely apparent.
  4. Stay at the reception only as long as you can manage.  If you are too overwhelmed, going into a manic state, or suffering from a panic attack, allow yourself to leave early.
  5. Ask someone for a copy of the schedule.  Knowing when things are happening relieves a lot of anxiety.
  6. Be sure to get enough sleep and rest.  Even if others are staying up late, give yourself permission to go to bed a responsible time.

6 thoughts on “Survival Guide to Being a Bridesmaid

  1. jefairgrieve says:

    Lots of good advice in this post, Anna Rose! Thank you! One thing I learned from my teaching experience is that even though I felt self-conscious and thought people were checking me out, I discovered that most of my students’ minds were really elsewhere. That fact was obvious when I asked questions about what I had just said or taught. Generally, I think people’s minds are all over the map when it comes to social situations such as wedding receptions, etc. Of course, there will always be the few gossips who scan everyone for “dirt,” but don’t take them personally or seriously. They would find “dirt” in the life of a saint! Maybe it would help to remember that gossips use “dirt” as currency to buy the favor of others because they otherwise have nothing to offer. They are weak people. You are strong and courageous! Hugs . . .

    • Yes, that is such a great point! People tend to worry more about what others think of them than judging others. It is rather odd but true.

      • jefairgrieve says:

        In general, Anna Rose, I have discovered that malicious people who get pleasure from judging others and peddling their gossip are losers, and I pray for them rather than let myself be intimidated by them. They can do a lot of damage if they want to, but in the end, the people who are true and who follow principles of goodness and morality come out winners. I’ve lived long enough to have witnessed the truth in what I say. So I no longer worry about what others might think of me; I just focus on being true to my principles, many of which are based on the Ten Commandments and the Gospel lessons. And most of these principles are found in all religious traditions–Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. Anyway, this is how I have learned to cope.

  2. Csilla says:

    Thank you for all the helpful tips. One of my best friends asked me to be her maid of honor (Spring wedding) and I appreciate your insight into how to get through being a part of the wedding in a meaningful, fun way.

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