After Ducky got married, I had completed my bridesmaid and maid-of-honor duties for the summer and had one event left to attend as a carefree guest: Crouton’s wedding. I couldn’t help but marvel over how everything at her wedding seemed perfect. She was gorgeous. Her dress was perfect. The church’s organ, the strawberry-adorned cake, the father of the groom’s dance moves—all a delight. How was nothing out of place? How do these women—none of whom have been married before—know all these things to plan for? It turns out the details of a wedding day hardly go as planned. While looking at how perfect Crouton’s wedding was, I reminded myself: No matter how wonderful it all appears, someone somewhere on this day dealt with behind-the-scenes hiccups and annoyances—the ones guests don’t necessarily see but that keep it all interesting for the bridal party. Here are some lessons I learned from being in the bridal party:
• Bustles are sort of tricky. Before this year, I didn’t even know what the bustling mechanisms looked like. I could feign being in the know, such as when a guest might ask me where the bride went and I’d respond, “She must be getting her dress bustled.” Bustled? For all I knew at the time, that could involve a lint roller and a can of Febreze. I really had no idea. Turns out it can be tricky and different on every dress. You could end up pinning up something simple or rooting around on the floor looking like a pair of Wicked Witch legs sticking out from under the bride’s gown.
• Be careful with flammables. Fortunately, I haven’t learned this the hard way, but so many people have nightmare wedding-day stories that involve the unity candles. They won’t stay put. They won’t light properly. And when Angie’s dress swished dangerously close to them, I feared I’d have a story like that of my own to tell (thankfully not). My boyfriend even had to warn me of my camera strap’s dangerous proximity to our centerpiece candle. So if you plan on having lots of kids at your wedding, watch what you light on fire.
• The salon always takes longer than you think. It’s not really like it looks on TV when ten women sit in one salon with all 20 staff buzzing around them, and their hair and nails are perfect in 20 minutes while they sip mimosas. I’ve seen a manicure take an hour and a half, and I’ve had an updo finished in 20 minutes. Leave plenty of time, and get it done right. You want to make sure you keep all those hairspray-covered curls under control, or you could end up in violation of the tip I mentioned above.
• Rude people are a fact of life. No matter how delightful all your friends and family may be, someone is going to be rude. Someone will not show up, after RSVPing yes, for no good reason. Someone will bring a gift such as Your Sexy Guide to One Hot Wedding Night. Someone will leave the reception immediately after the free dinner to go catch a baseball game. Seriously, there’s one of them at every wedding, so just embrace yours.
• Sometimes it’s good to put distance between the bachelor party and the wedding. You never know who you won’t like the next day. Or how difficult it can be to cover black eyes with makeup.
• Some vendor will mess something up. But don’t worry. If the flowers are sent to the wrong location, you can track them down, and if the cake has the wrong flavor inside, you can still eat it. I’ve learned this summer that the secret to this—as with all wedding day hiccups—is to keep it to yourself.
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