Most of us have been bridesmaids a time or two – in some cases you may even feel like you’re living the movie “27 Dresses”. We’ve all shopped for a special outfit and like the majority of women faced with that occasion, we don’t want to go it alone. We need our people, our most trusted advisor(s), our bestie, our ride or dies. We go through endless options, accessorizing, taking silly photos and making a mess out of the dressing room. And the whole time we’re helping each other figure out what looks great, what tops bring out our eyes, what pants show our butts at their best and what makes us look as small as possible. In a nutshell, that’s what women do.
I experience dressing room shenanigans on a daily basis. And there are times I want to say, “This is exactly what it should be like.” I want to give a big shout out to bridesmaid Courtney Oberer for showing how to be part of a great entourage. Courtney visited the boutique with her sister/bride-to-be Jennifer. What a beautiful relationship! Courtney offered so much encouragement along with excitement and genuine happiness. She shed so many tears of joy and adoration for Jennifer as she stood before Courtney in her wedding dress. So much love!
Who you choose to bring with you when looking for a wedding gown can make or break your shopping experience. I’ve witnessed situations that made me absolutely speechless and sometimes quite angry. Don’t get me wrong – I’m “Team Bride” all the way. So bridesmaids, let me keep it real with you. We all want to be that “brutally honest” friend, the one the bride can count on to not sugar coat it, the one who won’t tell you that everything looks good. But let’s be clear: This type of honesty shouldn’t be confused with the chance to verbally assault your friend and make her second guess herself. This is not your opportunity to pour all of your jealousy onto your friend. Your day will come, I promise.
The biggest pet peeve I have occurs when I open the curtains for a bride to show her gown and before she even steps out, I hear your voice. Remember what your kindergarten teacher taught you – “Hand on your hip, finger on your lip”. Please, for the love of all things good, let her speak!
After over 10 years in the bridal salon business, I can tell you the bride will not get off that podium without asking your opinion. After all, she brought you along because she really values what you have to say. I’m always the first one to see brides in their dress choices. And I see the looks on their faces and feel their energy. It’s a very tender moment and I’m honored to be a part of it. More often than not, I know how a bride feels about a dress before you do.
Picture this: You’re anxiously waiting to see your friend come out in her wedding dress. Meanwhile she’s gazing at herself, examining how she looks and feels before she shows you. She turns to me with a smile and is ready to reveal what she has already decided (by herself) she loves. I open the curtain and bam! “Oh no, that’s all wrong.” “It’s pretty but it’s not you.” “Next!” “Yikes! That really shows off your stomach. We need to get on that diet.” “If I’m being honest, that looks terrible.”
I could go on and on. What happened to the smile she had before we opened the curtain? It’s gone. It’s replaced with doubt. Now she’s all confused. She loved it before you said something. Her voice is as lost as her smile. Let her speak!
When you go gown shopping with your bride bestie …
- Use this time to announce your pregnancy.
- Grab dresses and “surprise” her in the next fitting room. This isn’t the time to try on gowns and ask her to share the podium.
- Discuss your own wedding.
- Be a hater – and you know what I’m talking about.
- Be emotionally dedicated, genuinely happy and supportive. Build your friend up!
- Understand that although you may not agree with your friend’s decision, it really is all about her on this day.
- Remember, this is important to the bride – and so are you.
Wedding dress shopping is an emotional time. It’s very personal and can be overwhelming before you even walk through the door. When someone asks you to be a part of their entourage, it’s an important honor. Forty years from now your friend may not remember the name of the store where she said “Yes to the Dress”, but she will always remember her shopping experience. We are characters in her wedding story. No matter how small a role we play, we’re helping to write it. And I promise your role is impactful.
What role will you play?