5/6 Real Bride Kate: Lessons Learned as a Bridesmaid

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I recently had the privilege to be a bridesmaid for one of my closest friends. This was my first time as a bridesmaid, and my first time attending the wedding of a friend (as opposed to a family member). I hadn’t been to a traditional wedding for a couple years, so getting to be an important part of one, especially one with a bride so close to my heart, was a delightful treat. Given my own upcoming nuptials, attending my friend’s wedding was also a nice refresher to help me A) remember the emotional and exciting experience that is a wedding and B) glimpse at the logistical aspect of wedding planning from “the other side,” so to speak.

After all the smiles and tears and hugs, I took some time to reflect on the wedding and my experience as a bridesmaid and what I can take away from it all for my own wedding. In the end, I’ve come up with three “lessons” or reminders that I hope to keep in mind as my own wedding nears.

Bridesmaid Dress

The bride let us choose our own hairstyles, and I love the retro-inspired-do my hairdresser did for me. (Totally inspiring my own wedding hair!)

 1.      A happy bride equals happy everyone.

Most of the time, when people say things like this, it is code for: “Give the bride everything she wants so life is easier for all of us.” In this case, I mean it more literally. My friend was laid back and genuinely happy for her entire wedding day. Even when a few details didn’t go according to plan, she kept her cool and stayed optimistic. And trust me, it made everyone in the bridal party relaxed and happy, too. The entire day felt like a day between friends without the weird pressure of pulling off “the most important day of the bride’s life.” Plus, in the few moments I saw the groom before the ceremony, it was obvious that having a happy bride was a delight to him.

2.      Make sure people know where/how/when to do things.

The only hitch in the wedding details for the wedding party was a bit of uncertainty on how the reception should be started. The bride and groom were still taking family portraits, and we were left on our own. Should we sit at the head table or is that for family? Which hors d’oeuvres are for now and which are for after the bride and groom arrive? They were simple questions, and obviously, we all figured it out quickly enough. However, the moments of slight uncertainty did get me thinking about how many and which logistical details I will need to impart to my own wedding helpers.

3.      Perfection is subjective and intentional.

Honestly, I have no idea how my friend viewed her wedding. From her radiant joy and relaxed attitude, I assume she felt like everything was perfect. However, for all I know, there could have been details that were wrong or sacrifices she had to make during the planning. But, in the end, no one could tell if it was perfect or not. Was it the perfect wedding for everyone who attended? Of course not, because perfection is subjective. And from watching this wedding, I have learned, too, that perfection is intentional. Yes, we all intentionally strive for perfection in our wedding, but, even if it is not perfect, we can approach the day with the intention of viewing it as perfect. When it’s all said and done, what makes a wedding perfect is that it reflects the couple’s personality, it is planned with the intention of making it special, and it is approached with the right intention. Given this criteria, I’d say my friend’s wedding was truly perfect.

Bridesmaid Bouquet

My beautiful bridesmaid bouquet. It’s a happy coincidence for this photo that my dining room walls almost perfectly match my bridesmaid dress colors!

Now, time for some honesty. As a person, I am much more high-strung and much more of a perfectionist than my friend. I know I am prone to meltdowns when I have to sacrifice certain details (whether it be for budget or to appease family), and I know that these sacrifices also lead me to approach my wedding with the wrong intentions. I get too caught up in the little things, in my own selfish desires, in what can’t happen for my wedding, and I forget the big things and what can happen for my wedding.

However, even though I know I will not be as gracious of a bride as my friend, I must remember the attitude of myself and the other wedding party members at her wedding: “They’re married. Our job is done. Mission accomplished.”

Because, in the long run, stationery, dresses and flowers don’t make a wedding successful: uniting two people who love each other does. And, for that matter, a perfect wedding doesn’t make a marriage successful: only two people who love each other and are willing to work their asses off do.

So, as far as what really matters, Daniel and me, we got this.

Kate is a writer, storyteller, globetrotter, and cat mother. When she is not working in an open-concept cubicle or planning for graduate school, she can be found blogging on her website and writing her first novel. Socialites can find her on Twitter @KateMColby and bookworms can check her out on Goodreads.