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Bride Styles & Dresses:
A Bridesmaid's Tale of Bad Outfits and Weddings

Oh, What Girlfriends do to Each Other for Weddings

I got lucky when my friends from school decided to marry their long-term boyfriends. I was a bridesmaid both times, and I privately worried that one of my friends (good, sensible young women) would go insane when it came time to choose bridesmaid dresses and bridal makeup. It’s been known to happen: a prospective bride asks her best friends to stand up with her, then dresses them like the dolls made by insane homemakers to cover up toilet paper rolls.

What About the Ugly Bridesmaid Dress?

When you go to the bridal salons, there are the endless rows of white gowns, and then, against the wall, a garish assortment of satin horrors. I loved my friends, but hormones and the pressures of engagement can do weird things to even lifelong friends. (If you’re looking for a gorgeous wedding or bridesmaid dress that doesn’t make you look like the marriage-fairy pelted you with magic bad-taste beans, take a look at the bias-cut silk gowns at J. Crew.)

One Bride Wants Fancy Occassion

Laura’s wedding came first, in early spring. The wind blasted in icy drafts through the outside corridors of a lovely, gray-stone Episcopal church. Laura’s mother-in-law came to town bringing her favorite mink stole—a gift for the bride. Laura thought about the sleek little creatures who’d given their all, weighed the possibility of offending her fiancé's mother, swallowed hard and graciously accepted the mink. Good thing, too. It was twenty degrees on The Day, and her dress was décolleté.

Our dresses were not build for warmth either, but they were perfect. Ivory, with a vague damask pattern. Fluttery sleeves that didn’t mean a thing. Sleek, flowing waistlines. Calf-length. Heather has bright blue eyes and dark, wavy hair. A bust men swooned over, long legs. Laura’s sister Kathy, blonde, very slim, elegant. Me, feeling dowdy and nervous until Laura graced me by asking me to help her manage her voluminous gown and petticoats. She had to squeeze into the tiny bathroom at the church for a practically last-minute tinkle. Her dress puffed up around her, the train bulged out the open door, where I held it off the stone floor and blocked the view of potential passersby. My face was partly buried in the silky mink. At that moment, Laura looked like one of those toilet-roll dolls, extra fancy, wedding-style. We laughed until I had to go too.

Another Brides Want a Causal, Hands-on Affair

Heather’s wedding was neat because she and Kevin did most of it themselves. They folded a thousand paper origami cranes, and we placed them around the banquet hall, with flowers and streamers. We danced all night. Her gown was movie star glam—strapless, classy. I remembered the day we all drove to the bridal salon and spent the day trying on wedding gowns, and how she narrowed it down from about three hundred to two, to one in short order. She always seemed to know just what she wanted. For Heather’s wedding, we wore emerald green, her favorite color. Also slightly damask, rayon, not satin, same easy shape as the ivory dresses we wore at Laura’s wedding. Beautiful, and simple. I wore mine again and again that year.

Remember Bridesmaids are "Friend" and Comfort is Important

A real friend wants you to feel comfortable and look pretty, even on her wedding day. She doesn’t saddle you with costly dresses you’ll never wear again, or with ugly, dyed-to-match shoes. She drives you to the bridal salon and makes you try on wedding gowns along with her, because it’s fun. She asks you to hold her mink while she takes a pre-wedding pee, sitting on the toilet in clouds of silk and tulle, and laughs her ass off at the picture she presents. Like I said, when my friends got married, I got lucky.

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