First, let me be clear: I’m a really lucky girl.
Lucky to have the kind of girlfriends who have been there as I’ve started my life from scratch in three different cities, who nursed my broken heart when I said goodbye to my original fur baby, and who have endured horror stories of more failed swiping adventures than I care to acknowledge.
That said, luck is not the word I’d use to describe my experience as a bridesmaid for many of those girlfriends.
My adventure in aisle walking started while I was in college, escalated right after graduation, and finally slowed a bit in my 30s. It has included farm animals, more than a few fireball shots, and one epic (100-percent sober) fall.
But for the brides who want me in your wedding, rest assured: I now know the tricks of the trade. And I’ve got a few vows of my own. (Photos by Kayla Coleman Photography)
1. I VOW TO NEVER LET THEM SEE ME SWEAT—EVEN WHEN I AM
My best friend from childhood (we met when we were both 15-year-old summer camp counselors) had an elegant wedding in South Florida. In the summer. With candles. Lots of candles, lining the aisle and guarding the altar, where she and her hubby exchanged vows.
Well, you know that tissue you stick between your boobs and use to wipe away the tears?
That day, I used mine to wipe away the uncontrollable stream of sweat pouring down my face throughout the entire ceremony.
So even though I don’t need to stuff my bra, I will stuff my bra. For you.
2. I VOW TO SUCK IT UP—OR IN, IF NEEDED
Kelley and I became fast friends when we both interned in New York City one summer. She was the blonde Southern belle, I the brunette Yankee, and we tried a different bar every night. We stayed best friends even after that summer and soon she was getting married.
I’d gained a little weight at my first job in TV, but swore I would lose it in time for the wedding. So, naturally, I insisted on ordering a size smaller for my bridesmaid dress. MISTAKE. I had to rush order the correct size a month before the wedding.
And now, I’m the proud owner of two lovely, floor-length, silver chiffon dresses.
So I promise to ignore the number on the tag, to listen when the ladies in the expensive dress shop tell me these frocks run small to begin with, to believe them when they warn me that these dresses are not cheap or exchangeable.
And I promise that Spanx will always be this bridesmaid’s best friend.
3. I VOW THAT I’LL SAY YOU’RE RIGHT—BECAUSE YOU ARE
The word bridezilla is in the dictionary for a reason. Let’s be honest, you will probably go a little crazy in the months leading up to your wedding. But it’s your right. And, as your best friend, I promise not to complain.
So know this: No matter what, I will remember that my job is to plan a few parties, to wear my hair the way you want (and the dress with the bow on the butt that you swear I’ll wear again. And I’ll love you through it all.
4. I VOW TO TAKE IT IN STRIDE—EVEN WHEN I FALL
My best friend from Asheville married her husband at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Hendersonville. A rare spring snow made the outdoor ceremony picture perfect—and treacherous in high heels and floor-length dresses.
Walking down the snow covered steps that lead from the house to the grass that was our aisle, I slipped. Flew, really.
One satin pump went careening through the air, and I landed on my knees, scraping them both open and landing with a loud and painful thud.
Thankfully, the bride was around the bend in the house and missed my show. But most of the wedding guests saw it and were horrified.
The wedding coordinator stared at me with a pained look and asked if I was OK. My reply: “Get me my shoe, and I’ll get down this aisle!”
Blood was beginning to stain through my dress on both knees, but somehow I managed to squeeze the shoe back on and make it down the aisle. Friends bandaged me up after the ceremony, and I didn’t tell the bride until she got back from her honeymoon. She had always been there for me. It was my turn to step up and be there for her—even if I had to hobble to make it happen.
Thing is, despite my, uh, bumps, on the way down an aisle or two, I wouldn’t change a thing. (Except maybe my hairstyle in that one wedding…)
I love my girls and I know they’ll be there for me whenever I find Mr. Right—stuffing tissues in their bras, wearing Spanx, agreeing to my “requests,” and making their way down the aisle. No matter what.
Michelle Boudin is a reporter and anchor with WCNC-TV and a freelance writer for local and national publications. Check her out in bridesmaid action below, on the far right.