Being asked to be a bridesmaid can be an honor, but depending on who's asking, it can also be an invitation to serfdom.
When one of my close friends asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, I had no reason to say no.
She lived across the country, and I knew there’d be some work involved, but a wedding is a big deal, and I was excited to be part of it. And anyway, my friend was a reasonable person, right? Right?
That was over ten years ago, and I haven’t spoken to her since.
1:43 pm: I was picked up at the airport by the bride to be (I'll just refer to her as "Bridezilla").
I’d volunteered to come a few days early to help out with any last minute wedding stuff, like making name cards or labeling gift bags, and to watch Bridezilla's little boy so she could take care of stuff she needed to do before the wedding.
What I didn’t realize was that there would be a few other toddlers too, because, oh, hadn’t she mentioned? She was running a small childcare service from her home.
5:18 pm: It didn’t take me long to notice something missing from her house—namely, anything edible. There was baby food and weight loss shakes and not much else.
BZ was dieting before the wedding, and we were far enough into the suburbs that I’d need a car to get food.
Recap of Day 1: Relatively normal, if somewhat bereft of food. No idea yet of the disaster that was to come.
6:32 am: Awake bright and early thanks to the arrival of a couple of kids who BZ was watching that day. I was sleeping on the couch so it was hard not to notice them. I got up, ate breakfast (just kidding!) and congratulated myself yet again on my decision to never have kids.
9:41 am: Another close friend of ours (let's call her Bridesmaid 1) arrived from out of town, and I was thrilled to see her (and her car).
11:48 am: We were given some errands to run for BZ, like shopping for the special gift the bride traditionally gives the groom, which in this case was a pair of flip flops with bottle openers built into the bottoms.
They would prove to be the most thoughtful part of the wedding and also the perfect example of the tackiness of things to come.
2:09 pm: We made a quick stop at the dry cleaner's so I could steam iron my bridesmaid dress, a wisp of pink polyester that I'd balled up and thrown into my suitcase.
(Fun fact: The bride is legally obligated to assure you that you can wear this dress again at some future event; however, in the history of time, there has never been a bridesmaid dress that’s been worn more than once.)
4:02 pm: We went to the final dress fitting, along with the rest of the bridesmaids (bringing the total bridesmaid count to roughly 75).
The dress had been designed and made by our designer/seamstress friend (let's call her Bridesmaid 2) as a wedding gift, and BZ had been extremely happy with the gown.
Until she got some unsolicited and decidedly unconstructive criticism from the ever outspoken B1 (Goddammit, B1, shut up!). So now basically everyone was upset.
Recap of Day 2: We were an army of bridesmaids, with no plan of attack and the world's most unprepared general. Troop morale was low but at least I managed to sneak away to get bagels.
6:47 am: Up early (surprise!) to help a few of the other bridesmaids decorate the reception room at the banquet hall.
10:26 am: We showed up to survey what decorations BZ had provided, which turned to be completely none. It was a conspicuously unadorned banquet room with some tables and chairs.
We thought it over and decided to go with the truly uninspired theme of "streamers." Most of the day was spent setting tables, blowing up balloons and wrapping pink streamers around the beams, while arguing over who got to take a nap.
7:00 pm: A surprisingly un-catastrophic rehearsal dinner. Finally, food!
Recap of Day 3: Having spent a little bit of time with BZ and her groom, I couldn't help but notice how tense and uneasy their interactions seemed to be, and I got to witness some of the infamous fighting. Things were going great!
Day 4 - Wedding Day!
Negative a thousand o’clock am: A makeup artist came to do BZ's hair and makeup and then everyone drove to the venue, looking forward to getting this damn wedding over with and maybe finding a table to sleep under for a few hours.
We were given a room where we could get BZ ready, which just meant getting her into the dress and keeping her upright (once the drinking started).
10:13 am: B1 had assured me that there’d be some sort of snacks provided in the "getting ready" room—a tray of fruit and vegetables, or maybe some crackers—for the two hundred bridesmaids to eat.
Sadly, there was no food in sight, but there was alcohol. Whiskey, and, to keep it classy, champagne. We spent the next few hours waiting on the bride hand, foot and shot glass.
12:14 pm: Things went from bad to worse. Almost none of the guests showed up on time because there was a mistake in the directions on the wedding invitation. The bridesmaids stood by the road and waved drivers down, like a formal version high school key club car wash.
2:07 pm: Among the many people who had not yet shown up was the Best Man. Another bridesmaid’s husband was getting ready to stand in for him when he finally rolled in, super casual amidst the panic his lateness had created.
I’d heard that one of the groom’s good friends was a white power dude and of course it turned out to be him. None of the bridesmaids wanted to be paired with this idiot, but finally B1, in the interest of just getting it over with, volunteered.
He said something derogatory about women with tattoos, she called him an asshole, and we were off down the aisle, the start of the least sincere and driest-eyed wedding ceremony I’ve ever attended.
3:07 pm: The ceremony was quick, unstructured and not very memorable (were there vows? I can't be sure, I couldn't hear much over the noise of a legion of toddlers running rampant at an outdoor ceremony).
The reception was basically the same.
The DJ ended up being B2's laptop, set on a lone plastic chair. The music was a set list she made during the reception, including the song for the first dance.
5:10 pm: It was finally time for dinner and we were like 6 a.m. shoppers on Black Friday.
I don’t remember what the meal was, just that there was enough of it and we could finally eat.
B2 got food-high and started laughing hysterically about renting a hotel room, ordering room service and just rolling around in mashed potatoes on the bed like Indecent Proposal for hungry people.
6:33 pm: We were asked to make a spontaneous toast, all seven thousand bridesmaids. Everyone basically went with some version of "Uhhhhhhh...good luck, I guess?"
7:46 pm: Standing in a bathroom stall along with another bridesmaid, lifting up the heavy dress and trying to pull BZ's underwear up after she peed without making her spill her wine, I thought about the Bridezilla TV show.
Up until then, I really thought all the drama was completely fake. There was definitely no way our bride would devolve into a total lunatic bride monster, right? Right?
Then she said, half-jokingly I’m sure (I hope), “This is my day! You have to do what I say because this day is all about me!”
9:33 pm: The newlyweds had driven away, the grandparents had taken the toddler home, the guests were leaving and the hotel staff handed us brooms and told us to clean up.
BZ had not hired a cleaning service, so we, her faithful bridesmaids, spent an hour wiping tables, taking down streamers and sweeping the floor.
I don’t know what BZ had been planning for an entire year but it certainly wasn’t her wedding.
Recap of Day 4: A good idea when you've had almost a year to plan a wedding is to PLAN THE WEDDING.
I could never dislike BZ. She’s not a bad person just because her wedding was bad. She has a good heart; she just had a case of failing to get her shit together on a massive scale.
I heard that she got divorced (to the surprise of absolutely no one) and is now quite happily re-married with another kid. I’m genuinely happy for her and wish her the best.
I'm just sort of hurt she didn’t ask me to be in her second wedding.