Thursday, April 19, 2012

Choosing the Bridesmaids

Not me or my ladies - yet!

One of the funny things about planning a wedding is that it can make you realize you're a lot more traditional than you previously thought. There was a time when I said I didn't want a bridal party at all, but when it came time to actually plan the wedding - well, the idea of having my best ladies around me while I tied the knot suddenly seemed very sweet, very nice, and very necessary. Marriage is a transition, and even the happiest of transitions can be difficult. Knowing our friends are by our side - figuratively and literally - will mean a lot.

So we decided to have a bridal party. I cannot speak for Nathan, but I can speak for myself, and let me tell you - choosing a small (that is, affordable) number of people to take on this honor/burden was not easy. I've lived in a lot of places, and in each place I have collected a large number of cherished girlfriends. Naming just a few as bridesmaids seemed impossible, but I knew it had to be done. I took a number of things into consideration (who can afford to travel/buy a dress, who is in graduate school, who has young children, who hates the spotlight, who can actually make it North Carolina, etc) because I wanted the job to be as much honor and as little burden as possible. After much hand wringing, guilt suffering, and long debates (sorry, Nathan), I finally settled on five lovely ladies.

First up: the sisters, of course. This part was easy. My middle sister, Susan, is going to be the Maid of Honor, and my youngest sister, Ally, will be a bridesmaid. (My sisters have figured out who will serve as MOH for each of us - I think I'm going to be Ally's one day, but I can't remember. I'm sure they'll let me know.)

Once that was settled, things got tricky. I decided to choose one person from each of the places where I had lived and grown - Long Island, Purchase College, and Nacogdoches (I haven't been in NC long enough to make an MFA friend a bridesmaid, though I will be inviting many of them to the wedding). From Long Island, I chose my friend Allie. We've known each other since we were twelve years old - more than half our lives! - and every time I go home to visit, we hang out and always have a great time catching up, eating Thai food, and going to hot yoga. It's cliche, but she's one of those people I can always pick up right where we left off. From Purchase, I chose Ella. We were next door neighbors freshman year, she's the one who dreadlocked my hair, and I'm going to be her bridesmaid in February. Last but not least, Nacogdoches. Amy (mentioned on this blog quite often) was (and still is) my best yoga partner, wine buddy, dog sitter, travel companion, and confidante, and she's a favorite of both me and Nathan.

Susan, Ally, Allie, Ella, Amy. Just thinking about them as my bridesmaids makes me smile. This is an excellent sign.

I'm headed to New York in a few weeks for a bridesmaids' dress shopping trip, as most of my ladies live on or near Long Island. This past week, we've been emailing each other with ideas, suggestions, and requests. (I have no idea what I want them to wear yet, except that I prefer short dresses to long dresses, and that I am okay with them wearing different styles, as long as the colors are an exact match. Once I see them in the dresses, I hope I will have a better idea of what colors and styles will be best.) During these emails, Amy made the impulsive decision to COME TO NEW YORK WITH ME. This is huge. I haven't seen her since I moved from Texas (we lived in her house for the last week we were there) and I have missed her so much. She's never been to New York, so we'll spend a day in the city, sightseeing, eating delicious vegan food, going to a yoga class, staying with my sister, and being awesome together, and then we'll be on Long Island, with my crazy family, the beach, and bottles of wine in my parents' backyard. It will be a great five days, and when I return I hope to have a bridesmaid dress update ready to go. 

I think this was probably my most self indulgent wedding post yet, and I apologize for that. I will say that so far, this has been the most fun to plan, mostly because it includes some of my best friends. Now tell me your stories - how did you choose your bridesmaids? How did you dress them (long or short? Matching or not?) And what do bridesmaids actually do, besides look pretty in photos and help you pee? Looking forward to your comments, as always.

11 comments:

  1. My husband has never understood the reason why I want to have a "church wedding." We got married at the court house with my best friend and her husband being witnesses. I always tell him that I want to have a church wedding because I've always wanted to have a "party" so everyone can share in our love. Since he's Native... he doesn't get it. So glad that you've picked your bridesmaids! I think that's the toughest part! :)

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    1. I think a court house can be just as special and meaningful as a "church wedding" but for me, personally, I like the big community aspect and, of course, the party. It's never too late to throw a fun reception or renew your vows!

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  2. I don't have much advice from experience of being a bride :), but like I mentioned on Pinterest, I really loved it when my sister-in-law asked us all to buy a little black dress that we would want to wear again. She gave some parameters (around the knee length & modest--she's from a Mennonite family, so...yeah), but I was able to work around them easily enough and find a flattering and fun dress for myself. As far as what we did, we just made sure she wasn't stressed out and had a lot of fun! I think the Maid/Matron of Honor is supposed to do a lot more of the helping out bit, but if everyone's chipping in it's all better. Like "That One Girl" said, you've already done the hardest part, now to have some fun with the dresses!

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    1. I like that idea too, but I think it would work best with black dresses, and I'm a sucker for color. :) I do think I will let everyone choose a style that suits them, though. They all have different bodies and I want them all to feel comfortable and be happy.

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  3. I ended up having a small wedding at the courthouse but my sister and best friend who happens to be a man stood up there with us. If we had gone through with the big wedding we were planning I would have had 2 male attendants and 4 female attendants. My husband's party would have also been mixed in terms of gender.

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    1. I would have been happy to have mixed parties, but my very closest friends are all women. Not sure why that is - social pressure? sexual politics? tradition? - but since my friends are all the best ever, I really can't complain. :)

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    2. I've thought about this. One of my best friends is a guy, and I really want him in my wedding. I'm not sure if I'll have a mixed party or have him on the groom's side. Either way, I don't even have a boyfriend, so it's probably a little soon to be planning my wedding party... #estrogenestrogenestrogen.

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    3. That's a good point, too. Amy, for example, is close to both Nathan and I. And I've actually known one of the groomsmen longer than Nathan has - we met through him. I guess to us, the people up there with us are people we both love, and that they'll be supporting both of us, no matter which side they stand on.

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  4. So exciting! I think it's totally okay to self-indulge when and where is needed. This wedding planning business sounds fun, but a wee bit stressful.

    I'm still single, but I can imagine being in a similar place as you. I feel like I would all of a sudden find myself feeling a bit more traditional than I thought (I blame this on a Catholic upbringing). I also have two sisters. I also have moved often. And would need to do things small-scale to make them affordable.

    Tough - but very exciting - decisions would need to be make often!

    Have fun dress shopping in NY.

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  5. I thought about bridesmaids. I would have had two: my sister and my amiga Jackie. Not difficult to choose at all as I don't have very many female friends to begin with. BUT John felt like he would have had to make his brother a groomsman if my sister was a bridesmaid and he didn't want his brother to be a groomsman. So to avoid any awkwardness we opted for no wedding party except for the ring bearers and flower girl. My sister and amiga took to calling themselves unofficial bridesmaids anyway so it all worked out. They helped a LOT with getting me dressed and beautified before the ceremony. If I had wanted one my sister probably would have arranged a bachelorette (sp?) party.

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  6. I had a tough time deciding my bridal party. I felt like I wasn't awesome enough friends with anyone except the people I went to college with. I was a recent grad, but then they were in grad school so it made it worse. I thought it would have been easier if I had sisters or female cousins. I did not. I ended up asking 2. One dropped out so I just had a MOH.

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