Peering deep into the dark recesses of my closet, I spy taffeta, stripes of spring colors in sharp contrast with my wardrobe of black and khaki. The acrid smell of dried flowers lingers toward the back of the closet, recalling numerous weddings where I stood strategically positioned behind the bride, playing hide and seek with the omniscient eye of the videographer, so as to adjust yet another misapplied adhesive bra. As the magical words of the vows are spoken, my mind plays that elusive dream shared by all bridesmaids – the mystical occasion where I and thousands of my ilk will one day congregate to showcase our dresses, pearls, and shoes that we were promised we could wear again, and often.
How does one find the happy medium, simply to attend the ceremony, cry at will and not on cue, arrive unannounced to the reception, and slip away unnoticed? It is difficult to say no to a friend who asks you to be a part of her wedding, but for the sake of your wardrobe and wallet, it is imperative that you learn how to decline the honor with grace. The best way is to avoid the situation altogether, using the following preemptive techniques. As soon as the engagement is announced, immediately remove all contact with the bride-to-be. Wait not even to congratulate, but change your email address, as well as your phone number. Exercise the screening feature of caller identification. If she tracks you down, hang up quickly, citing your connection with the witness protection program and your new identity (you must call me “Wally” from now on). The friendship will appear to nose-dive into oblivion, but this is a sacrifice that may benefit you in the long run, depending upon your feelings for the groom.
If you are already committed, and only now stumbled upon this article, stop beating yourself with those $150.00 dyed-to-match pumps. There are still ways to get ousted before the wedding day. When the bride asks you to accompany her to find the perfect wedding dress, and she stands before the mirror in what appears to be the exact dress that is modeled on the cover of every bridal magazine and every rack in the store, she will turn to you for your opinion. The following reply is simple, and when delivered correctly at the precise moment that the tear of anticipation has welled up in her eye, has proven itself with a 92% success rate. Look her knowingly in the eye and ask, “Are you sure you should wear white?”
If, while reading this, at your feet lie hundreds of tiny gifts to be delicately wrapped as prizes for the bridal shower that is your responsibility to host (i.e. pay for), consider throwing a “Painful Memories” themed party. Based upon the ever-popular “Creative Memories” scrapbooks, which for those uninitiated in the sport, involves hours of fun with glue, wallpaper clippings, and the occasional fits of hysteria, the Painful Memories book can be made into a twisted, lively parlor game. Invite family, friends, and ex-boyfriends who have unresolved issues with the bride-to-be and play a darkly entertaining version of “This is Your Life.” Ask them to bring a story and/or pictures of the agonizing memory with the bride, hide them behind a curtain, and one by one, each will tell the group of a time the bride humiliated or hurt them, recalling years of repressed memories and therapy. The bridesmaids should take the pictures and written stories to create a scrapbook of painful memories. One might want to include documentation of the bridal shower for the final page.
Most importantly, do not ask for forgiveness of the bride until after the wedding, as there is a chance that if you show any sign of weakness, you may find yourself donning a corsage, manning the guest book or gift table, and dancing with Uncle Earl, the ring-bearer. Your very own “Painful Memory” scrapbook in the making.