Bridesmaids Tell All

We asked some veteran bridesmaids how they really feel about weddings, the dress, the rest of the party, everything. Here's what they had to say.

Make New Friends…or Not

Meeting new people and getting to know other members of the bridal party is another bonus of being an attendant. "I met one of my best friends through being a bridesmaid," says Jessica. "We had a bunch of friends in common, but didn't know each other — until we kept standing up in the same weddings and never had any dates with us!"

Of course, not every bridal party ends up being a female-bonding lovefest. Lauren Sfaelos was in one wedding where the maid of honor drove her crazy. She didn't take the other maids' budgets into account for the bachelorette party and "just had this way of getting on everyone's nerves."

The last straw came the morning of the wedding. "One hairstylist was going to work on all of us, and we each had a set time at the salon. I was last in line for the up-do," says Lauren, 29. "It was getting late, and we had a deadline to get out of there. Right before I'm about to get my hair done, the maid of honor decides she wants the stylist to do her makeup, too! Forty-five minutes later, she was done and I was the last one at the salon. I had to race home, change, get my stuff together, and be at the bride's house in half an hour!" (We're happy to report that there was no cat fight at the reception.)

What Do We Do, Anyway?

Traditionally, the bridesmaid's duties are to assist the bride, but responsibilities vary from couple to couple and wedding to wedding. Attendants may host or help plan pre-wedding festivities such as the bridal shower and bachelorette bashes. Maids are also expected to buy their dresses, shoes and other required apparel for the wedding, as well as purchase shower and wedding gifts.

But not every bridesmaid realizes the extent of what's expected of her. "Usually you kind of hope and pray that someone else in the bridal party has a clue," says Christine. "A good friend of mine got married when she was just out of college and the maid of honor she chose had never even been to a wedding, so one of the other bridesmaids and I had to step in and take over the reins," scheduling dress-shopping trips and organizing the shower.

If other attendants shirk their responsibilities, the maid of honor often winds up doing the lion's share of the work. "There were definitely people in the wedding party who didn't know what to do," says Marnie Bayly, 26, maid of honor at her brother's wedding. "I ended up mailing invitations, helping to decide on the menu, and buying decorations and making favors. I also planned the bachelorette party and helped coordinate seating arrangements, wrote out place cards and spent lots of time just going with my sister-in-law-to-be to the bridal salon, the reception hall, the florist's shop…"

"I firmly believe that if it turns out that the bridesmaids or the ushers or the bridal party are asked to throw a party, whether it be a shower or an engagement party, that all of them should participate," says Julia Hynes, 29, veteran of four weddings. "I've been in situations where out-of-town members of the bridal party have said, ‘I don't want to get involved in that and I'm not paying for part of it because I'm not going to be there and that's not my thing.' It can be very awkward, because people have differing opinions about what their obligation entails."

And if you're in more than one wedding during the same time period, juggling duties can be tricky — especially if you live near the bride and will be called on to do more. "My friends seem to like to get married in clusters," jokes Lauren, who has twice been in three weddings in just 12 months' time. "The expense of being in a wedding can be a bit much, especially when you are in more than one a year. In both cases when I was the maid of honor, I was the only one in the wedding party who lived close to the bride. It was hard trying to do everything by myself."

Next: How they really feel about the dress ►


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