My Best Friend’s Wedding

It’s tomorrow! Callie’s going to be a wife!

And, for the first time, I’m going to be a bridesmaid.

Choosing a bridal party is the only time in adult life where it is totally acceptable—and expected—to publicly proclaim our best friends. It’s like the heart necklaces or friendship bracelets of our youth, but a totally bizarre and adult version that involves matching dresses.

No matter how adult we proclaim to be once we’re of the marrying age, selecting some people over others—saying “I feel closer to you than to you,” or even “I like you better than you”—is prickly. Of course, as any bride knows, there’s more that goes into bridesmaids than just who you like best. There’s also who’s related to you, and who’s going to cry if she isn’t asked even though you don’t really like her, and who do you need to invite because you were in her wedding.

[To be clear, such drama didn’t happen with Callie’s wedding party… she’s just the timely peg for this post.]

I only had two bridesmaids in my wedding. I asked Callie and Sara because 1) I wanted them and 2) I knew their inclusion wouldn’t leave anyone out. If I went bigger, my only option was to have at least nine girls. I couldn’t ask only some of my super-tight college friends, it’d be too hard (and possibly drama-inducing) to choose. And I’d want to invite a cousin or two, and my old roommate, and an ex-coworker. It would get out of hand.

I figured the whole “make your besties dress alike” thing must stem from something other than the need for someone to hold up a dress while the bride pees, so I investigated. Here’s what I found:

“In early Roman times, bridesmaids formed a kind of bridal infantry as they accompanied the bride to the groom’s village. This ‘protective shield’ of similarly outfitted bridesmaids was supposed to intervene if any wayward thugs or vengeful suitors tried to hurt the bride or steal her dowry. However, the Western bridesmaid tradition seems to have originated from later Roman law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies. The bridesmaids and ushers dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn’t know who was getting married.”

If this reasoning still existed today, I’d screw picking my best friends and just go for women who looked like me and who could kick some wayward thug ass.

But no, today the bridesmaid thing is about being surrounded by your BFFs on your big day. To have your people stand up and support this giant step. It’s a nice thought, actually.

So I ask you this: Do you like the tradition, or think it’s bizarre? And are there other adult scenarios in which we’re asked to designate our best friends?

16 Comments

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16 responses to “My Best Friend’s Wedding

  1. Christina

    This article is laugh out loud funny (John Kennedy Toole funny). Strange and interesting history. I think perhaps it has evolved into simply choosing the friends you want to be surrounded by, who will support you on that special day. For those being chosen: it has undertones of sitting in gym class waiting to be chosen for a team.

    As to the other adult scenarios in which we’re asked to designate our best friends (at least along the same vein): choosing godparents (?). I have at least four godchildren, which I think is ironic considering I made the choice not have children!

  2. Have fun being a bridesmaid. I have been a bridesmaid 8 times. I am pretty sure it’s bad luck after 7 or something like that. So the movie 27 Dresses totally resonated with me. But I have enjoyed being a bridesmaid.

    But the whole matchy matchy thing? Not a fan of that tradition. When/if I get married, I highly doubt I will pick a dress for my girls. I can see myself picking a color or tellign them to find a fabulous LBD to wear.

    Congrats to your friend! Have fun at the wedding!!!

    • Amanda

      I was in a wedding last year where the only requirement was long and black. It was great – all the bridesmaids got to pick what they looked good in, and I ended up with a fabulous dress that makes my boobs look awesome! I don’t know that I’ll have an occasion to wear it again (too formal), but I do love the dress.

      Also, did anyone else keep a running mental list of their bridesmaids as they were growing up? When I was little (even in high school actually) I was always absolutely certain that my closest friends at the time would stay that way forever, and they would be in my wedding someday. Only one friend (other than my two sisters) has remained in that list since I first started thinking about it in first grade!

      • I totally did that! Maybe not while I was growing up, since I knew nothing about weddings back then, but as soon as I became interested in wedding stuff (college maybe?) I spent much time daydreaming about how I would tell the chosen few… Yikes!

  3. I’ve only been in two weddings. One was for a close college friend. The other was for a girl who has called me her best friend since middle school.

    This last one has been a strange friendship for me. I’ve never considered her my best friend, but I’ve also never been in a situation that would require me to somehow (tactfully) explain my feelings. We ran in different crowds in high school and went to different colleges. We live in the same town now, but we still only see each other maybe 4-5 times a year for lunch. This girl doesn’t appear to lack for friends, yet somehow I’m still the BFF and maid of honor.

    My potential problem is if I’m placed in a situation – like choosing bridesmaids – where it would become very clear to her that I don’t feel the same way. She’s a nice girl. I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t want her standing with me. How would you tell someone like this that she’s not your bestie?

    The dress was hideous, by the way. Lavender and strapless with a rhinestone buckle. Elbow-length gloves. See-through stripper heels with a glitter strap.

    Maybe I’ll just dwell on that mental image when the time comes.😉

    • Wow! That does sound horrible. You are a trooper. I always wonder about the very issue you’re talking about.. when someone you don’t want to ask asks you. Is it necessary to reciprocate all invitations? I would say no, but I can’t imagine having to go through that myself…. Very sticky situation.

  4. Have a great time at the wedding!

    In Indian weddings, traditionally we don’t pick bridesmaids. The parents and the siblings just join the couple on the stage as they are getting married. I was spared from the bridesmaid dilemma…

  5. Fanfan

    I don’t know. Weddings, bridal dresses and gigantic cakes. Not my cup of tea. I don’t understand why people are so crazy about them. No, I don’t. Maybe someday it will make more sense to me.

    Your annotation on the history is hilarious, thou! Have fun!

  6. lorrie

    I think its an awesome tradition, I just wish I had friends close enough to be a ble to be a bridesmaid but all my friends are either married or im not close enough for that . The closest I’ve ever gotten to bridal party was being a guest book attendant

  7. Oh boy! This post is right up my alley, since I am a wedding officiant. I must remain neutral on my personal opinion regarding wedding parties, being as we perform wedding ceremonies for all kinds of weddings–from 2 person elopements to 500 guests at the polo club replete with 10 bridesmaids all wearing matching powder blue dresses. And it’s all good!

    I’ve witnessed bridesmaid horror stories. Bridesmaids who got “fired” a week before the wedding, sisters who no longer speak because of a fight over a dress, etc. Many nontraditional brides and grooms opt for a “no wedding party” ceremony just to avoid such headaches.

    On the other hand, I’ve performed many weddings where there is a touching cohesiveness among the bridal party members. So much so, that NOT having them present in such a capacity would have diminished the day.

    If you’re getting married and facing the “whom do I choose?” dilemma, bottom line is: don’t ever feel obligated to select wedding party members based on “shoulds” or “musts”. Instead, follow your intuition. When it comes to weddings, creativity has no limits. I’ve seen brides choose their moms, their best guy-pals and even their dogs as bridal party attendants.

  8. I operate in a world where my friends and I are busy people. And while we think of each other often, we rarely get together as a group. The year leading up to my wedding was amazing. I got together with my 3 local bridesmaids every few weeks … we really bonded during that time. I was on the phone with my 2 out of town bridesmaids more often than usual. In all honesty, it felt amazingly good to feel that connected to my friends. And if we have to use the excuse of a wedding to get there, I’m all for it. Plus, I didn’t make my bridesmaids dress exactly alike … same designer, same color, same length, but they each got to choose their own design.

  9. I had never thought about it being strange before, but it sort of is, actually. And, really, only a microcosm of the whole ‘who to invite’ nonsense of a wedding. Let me just say, my mother-in-law has waaaay too many friends and too much family. Evidently a few people got their feelings hurt in their invitations (also, hubby’s grandma just sort of invited a few people we weren’t planning on).

    So I guess weddings are designated friend picking even later in life, when you become the parent of the bride or groom. You get more room to include friends, but also potentially more hurt feelings when you don’t.

  10. One bridesmaid. “Wear something that looks nice.” Six “honorary obligation-free bridesmaids” — ladies who I was good friends with and, if we were having a huge wedding, I would have asked to participate. They gave opinions and such on all the stuff in process, but didn’t have to stand up or wear matching anything. Everyone (as far as I know) was happy🙂

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