Being asked to be a bridesmaid is truly an honor. While it’s one of the highest forms of flattery and affirmation of friendship one woman could bestow upon another, it’s also a duty, time commitment and significant financial drain (an estimated $1,695 per wedding!).
Take a look at the origin of the word bridesmaid—there’s no hiding that one is expected to serve the bride. Here are a few of my favorite definitions of the term, which first became popular in the 1500s:
brides*maid noun \ˈbrīdz-ˌmād\
- A woman who is an attendant of the bride
- One that finishes just behind the winner
- A person group, etc., that is in a secondary position, never quite attains a goal
Source: Merriam-Webster.com; Dictionary.com
And don’t think for a second that bridesmaid obligations are constrained solely to your friend’s big day. You’ll be expected to fulfill your duties—which range from dress shopping and cake tasting to playlist curating and party planning—from the moment the bride-to-be asks, “Will you be my bridesmaid?” It’s a rigorous role that has driven many sane, calm women to insanity over the course of duty, typically a year and a half.
Besides the occasional pharmaceutical, it takes more than patience and a thick skin and wallet to survive being part of a bridal party. While I can’t give you a get-out-of-jail-free card, you can avoid some of the bridal bullshit with these eight easy bridesmaid hacks.
1. Stock up on wine wipes: You’re going to need multiple Olivia Pope-size glasses of wine to make it through this, but no groomsman wants to make out with a Malbec mouth. Wipe red wine stains off your teeth and lips with these handy, flavorless wipes that are specifically designed to cleanse your palate without interfering with your vino.
2. Silence excessively long “reply all” email threads: As a serial bridesmaid, I had to create a Gmail inbox dedicated solely to weddings, with each bride getting her own label and color. Why? Because it takes an average of 137 emails* to share information on everything from the engagement party to the bridesmaid dress. Thankfully, an under-the-radar Gmail feature can “mute” these endless email conversations. Muting won’t delete messages entirely but simply sends new emails directly to an archived folder, bypassing your inbox and saving your sanity.
3. Manage group calendars: Trying to find a date that works for a large group of bicoastal bridesmaids doesn’t have to equate to countless emails. Doodle is a free scheduling tool that’ll make finalizing a bachelorette party weekend a breeze.
4. Invest in a solemate: No, not that kind—let’s be honest, maids. These brilliant little pieces of plastic will save your stilettos and prevent high heels from sinking into grass, uneven cobblestone or cracks in the street, so you can avoid looking like this.
5. Take control of the check: Between the huge dinners, bridesmaid dress orders and hotel reservations, there are a ton of group bridal party costs. Trying to itemize a check or tracking down delinquent bridesmaids for their share of the bill is a huge pain. Making and sharing payments is no longer a shitshow with Venmo, a free app that lets you request or send money securely and instantly. So take charge, cover the bill and then send a group Venmo request (all you need is each maids’ phone number) for their portion, which instantly deposits into your linked bank account. They’ll love you, you’ll love you and your waiter will definitely love you.
6. Opt out of annoying group text messages: There is a special ring in hell reserved for the perpetual group texter. I would rather try on a bikini in mid-January than opt into a group text message, which inevitably results in incessant phone vibrations from numbers you don’t recognize and a conversation you did not consent to. If you don’t have Apple’s new i0S 8 operating system, which finally lets you leave group text messages, then you’re shit out of luck… until now. Smartphone apps like GroupXIT give you an instant exit, allowing you to leave or mute the group convo. Download immediately.
7. Help pick the bridesmaid dress: Finding a dress that you’ll “actually wear again,” flatters multiple body types and doesn’t cost $300 is a fruitless exercise. But at least Weddington Way can help your bride bestie select potential dresses that you peasants can mutually vote on, order and track—no matter where you live.
8. Take a (secret side) shot: When in doubt, remove yourself from the designated group activity and head to the bar for a secret side shot (code name: S3). Secret. Side. Shots. Save. Lives.
*The actual amount of emails I received throughout my time as a bridesmaid for an individual wedding.