I have been in, like, six weddings in my lifetime. I've attended dozens more, but I was actually a member of a bridal party and a bridesmaid in a wretched dress more times than I'd like. I was a flower girl for a family friend's nuptials when I was 5. I was in my oldest brother's wedding when I was in high school. I was in my college boyfriend's sister's wedding. Got that? I know, it takes a minute to process. I am still friends with her (and his mom) even though he married someone else. I was in my friend Lilly's wedding this past October since I introduced her to her husband when she was my intern. That's four. I am sure I am purposely forgetting the others, because of the heinous dresses I was forced to wear.
Being in a wedding is always a stress case. Unless, of course, you are Lena Dunham, who wore a pretty sage dress as a member of a pal's bridal party last weekend.
On one hand, I like to support my friends and family, and if they think highly enough of me to ask me to be by their side on the most important day of their lives, then I have to play along, ride sidecar, and do so with a smile. On the other, it gets to be a crazy commitment that makes serious bank account dents.
Then there is the dress. Oh, the bridesmaid's dress. Let's face it. They're not bespoke, high fashion garments, unless you somehow miraculously ended up in a bridal party where the bride has access to Victoria Beckham designs and is willing to pick up the tab. Then you know you are getting something flawless. Yeahhhh, that's called a dream scenario — AKA it's not happening.
That said, here are the six worst things about bridesmaid's dresses. And here's to hoping that brides stumble across this post and take these factors into account. Brides, these are some golden rules to follow. We know, it's your day and you can be a Bridezilla if you want. Have at it. But look out for your girls! Chances are the members of your bridal party will be the ones you call on to be godmothers to your children; the ones whose shoulders you cry on if and when the marriage goes south; or, in a karmic move, the ones who ask you to be in their weddings, meaning you are owed a debt of bridesmaid dress retribution. So there!
1. You are at the mercy of your bride's taste
Luckily for me, my amazing friend Lilly chose black dresses for her bridesmaids for her October wedding. I only wear black, so we already started off in my comfort zone. I even told her if she chose non-black dresses, I couldn't be in the wedding, but she cut that off at the pass by telling me she wanted black. She also told me that updos were not required, either, so she had me in the bag from the get-go. She also chose a dress that fit everyone's style and size. But not all friends are Lilly. You may be stuck with a Bridezilla who wants everything to be powder puff pink. Or perhaps she wants a dress in a tea length that doesn’t flatter your height or cup size. Or maybe she wants you all to have matching shoes and hairstyles. Ugh with a side of ugh!
2. They require expensive accessories
Besides the dress itself, there's shoes, Spanx, undergarments, a clutch, a necklace, earrings, hair, and makeup — all of which are needed to personalize it. You know what that adds up to? How about a rent payment and more!
3. The dress always requires alterations
These are not custom-made dresses. They are the equivalent of this year's model off a factory conveyor belt, which means they will require some effort to get them to look right and to fit your body shape and style. They will need to be taken in, taken out, shortened, hemmed, or subjected to other possible alterations. Seamstresses aren't too, too hard to find — one lived a half-mile from my condo — but be prepared for multiple fittings to get it where it needs to be.
4. You may meet a cute, single dude or lady in a dress you don't love, so you might not be your most comfortable you
If you are single, a wedding is quite possibly the best, most romantic place to meet a single person. But usually, when you got out prowling, or looking for a hookup, it's in a carefully planned and assembled outfit. Skinny jeans with platform heels. A cute mini dress with espadrilles. Here, you are not in an outfit of your choosing and let's be honest. You are making first impressions and if you're draped in a baby blue nightmare, one that makes you look like you should be standing on top of a wedding cake, you might not be your best, most comfortable you. Thanks to Benny in Pretty in Pink for that wedding cake quote, BTW.
5. The concept of a bridesmaid dress is old-fashioned at its core
A lot of mass-producing dress companies haven't quite grasped the idea of fashion forward wares and still craft dresses that feel not on par with current trends. It's a bit outmoded. Plus, fashion in 2014 is about standing out and being unique, so the concept of dressing like three or four other women feels a bit fuddy duddy.
6. You probably won't get much use out of it after the wedding
Sadly, most of us don't have occasion to wear these formal frocks after the wedding, so it can end up sitting in your closet doing a whole lot of nothing. You spend a lot of cash on the dress, yet you don't get any cost-per-wear out of it, so it's not exactly an investment piece like a Chanel or a Balenciaga bag. However, I am donating my most recent dress to an initiative that provides current, in-style, and gently used gowns to girls who can't afford prom. If you follow my lead, that action should make you feel good about a bad dress.