If you've served as a bridesmaid, you know the job can be tough work. Since you agreed to max out your credit card to pay for a tacky, taffeta peach gown -- and that's before alterations costs -- you should receive a gold star for being an exceptional bridesmaid.
But all too often that's not enough. Today's average girl shells out about $1,000 during her tenure as a bridesmaid, and even after she's left penniless, there's an expectation to go above and beyond the call of duty when a bridezilla rears her ugly head in times of crisis. Handling the stress so the bride can relax is tricky, and sometimes it's just downright unfair.
Many former bridesmaids have experienced their share of horror, but we've collected 10 completely awful (and anonymous) tales of woe that would make even the most experienced bridesmaid shake in her custom-dyed high heels.
Any girl who's agreed to be in a friend's wedding has heard this familiar expression before: "You can wear this dress again." No matter how unflattering the dress may be, this annoying, age-old expression is always repeated by every new bride, even if it's completely untrue. Let's be honest -- very few girls are able to wear their bridesmaid gown again, and recycling it as part of your Halloween costume doesn't count!
For one ex-bridesmaid, the color and style of the dress was the least of her worries -- it was vendor's available sizes that became a problem. She remembers her confusion when the bride -- her tall, blonde, model-thin co-worker -- sent an e-mail with a link to the bridesmaid dress, sold in sizes 2, 4 and 6. "Since I was a size 10, I felt that the bride would certainly have an explanation," she says.
An awkward phone call to the bride made the situation even more uncomfortable. "She told me that her fuller-figured maids should either lose the weight or buy two dresses and sew them together," she recalls. "I hung up the phone, shocked by her rudeness, and the next day, I politely declined her invitation to be a bridesmaid. With friends like that, who needs enemies?"
With all of the hoopla that goes on in the months before a wedding, some mothers of the bride (and mothers of the groom, too, for that matter), forget that the big day isn't centered around them. They can be emotional, stressed about dieting and obsessed with what color dress they should wear. Some mothers' diva-like behavior is so disruptive that it can change the entire mood of a wedding.
"My college roommate's mother was completely out of control during her engagement," a former bridesmaid tells us. "She wanted to be in charge of every last detail of the wedding, and she made it her job to micromanage the bridesmaids' duties. She called me to find out who was invited to the bridal shower, where the bachelorette party was taking place, and she even asked the maid of honor what she planned to say in her toast to the bride and groom at the wedding reception!''
Eventually the bride stepped in and solved the problem, begging her mother to leave her bridesmaids alone. "Usually, it's the bride that's high-maintenance during wedding planning," laughs the bridesmaid, "not her mother!"
Hosting an outdoor wedding can be risky; Mother Nature doesn't always agree to work around a bride's schedule of events. We've heard nightmarish tales about bridesmaids baking outside in extreme temperatures or passing out at the altar due to the heat. Other bridesmaids reveal they were forced to stand at an altar in the middle of a thunderstorm, caking their expensive stilettos in mud. Could there be anything more uncomfortable than rain or sweltering heat for a bridesmaid to endure at an outdoor wedding?
"Yes," declares one bridesmaid, "standing in a bed of fire ants before walking down the aisle." She remembers the time she accidentally stood in an ant bed before her sister's wedding, leaving her legs covered in painful red welts. "I was in agony!" she exclaims. "The ants were not only all over my feet and legs, but a few crawled inside my bridesmaid dress, too. It took forever to get them off of me."
She was so badly bitten that the ceremony had to be postponed for a half hour while the coordinator ran to find an anti-itch medication. "I made it through the wedding, but my skin looked unsightly. Thank goodness my sister chose floor-length bridesmaid dresses so no one could see the dozens of blotchy ant bites all over my legs!"
Weddings are infamous for bringing out the best -- and worst -- in everyone. Some bridesmaids want to throw in the towel after slaving away for months working on intricate wedding favors, invitations and other tedious crafts. And scheduling weekly meetings for bridesmaids to attend is another sure way to make them resent the day they agreed to be in the wedding party. What happens when a bossy bride pushes a bridesmaid too far?
"After dealing with my friend's outrageous wedding-related temper tantrums for months, I began to wonder why we were such good friends in the first place," admits an ex-bridesmaid. "The daily texts and e-mails became too much to handle."
In the end, the frustrated bridesmaid snapped, sarcastically suggesting that the bride back off her friends and hire a wedding planner. As expected, the bride didn't take the wisecrack very well. "Our argument resulted in a major falling out before the wedding. However, after several other vendors and family members also confronted her about her bridezilla behavior, she realized that she needed to make some changes and apologized. The rest of the wedding went off without a hitch."
Weddings can be an uncomfortable setting for a single girl. The day filled with love and bliss can serve as a painful reminder of one's solo status. A wedding invitation with the words "and date" next to your full name might be a thoughtful gesture by the bride, but it can be an excruciating process to find an escort if there isn't already a special someone to invite.
One former bridesmaid in particular recalls the time her friend, the bride, requested that all of her bridesmaids bring a "plus one" to her wedding -- boyfriend or not. "I was too embarrassed to ask my older brother to escort me to the wedding, so I decided to work up the courage to ask my workplace crush to the affair instead," she admits. He agreed to attend the wedding with her, but it ended up being a miserable first date for both. "I was busy with bridesmaid duties all day, and my crush was forced to make small talk with strangers until the bouquet toss at the very end of the night," she explains. "At the time, I didn't understand why, but he asked me out on another date the following weekend. It went much more smoothly the second time around!"
Bridesmaids serving their duties from a distance may experience a nail-biting travel crisis or two, trying to fight traffic -- or worse, Mother Nature -- the weekend of a wedding. Cars can stall or break down, airlines may lose luggage (including the bridesmaid dress), and bad thunderstorms can delay flights for several hours, making already frazzled bridesmaids very late to a wedding.
A lot can go wrong when traveling, but the worst story we've heard involves a bridesmaid who fell asleep in the airport terminal, missing the day's last flight out of town. As a result, she was a no-show at her friend's rehearsal dinner and absent at the bridesmaid sleepover the night before the wedding. "To make up for my missed flight, I had to rush to the airport to catch a red-eye in the middle of the night," she says, "and I barely made it to my friend's hair and make-up appointment the morning of her wedding."
To make matters worse, the tardy bridesmaid was so exhausted from her early flight that she fell asleep in her beef bourguignon at the wedding reception later that night. Moral of the story: "Set two alarms and a wake-up call to keep from missing a major wedding-related activity," she advises, "Especially when long-distance travel is involved!"
Every bride looks forward to her bachelorette party as one last chance to experience a crazy night on the town with bridesmaids and other close girlfriends in tow. It's popular nowadays to book an out-of-town trip to celebrate a final fling, but conflicting schedules and budget constraints can make planning a weekend getaway difficult. Sometimes, the most convenient way to get the wedding party together is to throw the bachelorette party the same weekend that the wedding takes place. However, to any bridesmaids thinking about hosting the bride's last naughty night on the town hours only before she walks down the aisle, one bridesmaid in particular begs you to reconsider.
"The night before her wedding, my cousin insisted that we order several rounds of shots at a local bar to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. As supportive bridesmaids, we all obliged," she says. "By the time last call rolled around, the bride was dancing on top of the bar, three sheets to the wind. When she tried to climb down off the bar by herself, she lost her footing and fell to the floor, badly twisting her ankle."
Long story short, the bride ended up at the altar in a bright purple cast instead of her designer satin pumps. "Learn from my cousin's mistake," the former bridesmaid advises, "and plan the bachelorette party months before the wedding. This gives the bride and her friends plenty of time to recover!"
Obstacles bridesmaids try to avoid at a reception might include dodging the groom's frisky uncle, assisting the bride when she has to use the bathroom and drinking too much champagne before the toast. The bouquet toss at the end of the night is an event that most single bridesmaids don't want to miss, especially if they have a competitive streak. And sometimes, as one bridesmaid tells us, the toss is taken a little too seriously, leaving someone trampled in the process.
"I once turned a bouquet toss into an aggressive game of tackle football," the anonymous bridesmaid admits. "When my friend tossed the bouquet over her shoulder, she misjudged her throw, and the flowers headed straight for the 7-year-old flower girl instead." The bridesmaid and the rest of the single ladies lunged forward, landing on top of the small girl who stood in their way. "After we peeled ourselves off the floor, the flower girl was at the bottom of the pile-up, her arm twisted unnaturally beneath her, broken," she cringes.
What started as a friendly free-for-all ended with a frantic ride to the emergency room. "I rushed to the hospital with the flower girl and her mother," she says. "I apologized at least a thousand times, and thankfully, they understood that it was an accident. The flower girl even asked me to sign her cast when the night was over!"
An engagement can last months or even years, so brides and their bridesmaids might notice the number on the scale increases a little during this time. No one wants to admit she's gained a few extra pounds, and sometimes it's easier to avoid the issue than face the truth. Too many bridesmaids make the mistake of trying on their dress for the first time when it's almost time for the ceremony, discovering at the last minute that the dress is too tight. The result could mean waddling down the aisle in a snug-fitting gown and flashing guests with an accidental peep-show.
A sheepish bridesmaid confesses that one of her most embarrassing moments involves a bridesmaid dress wardrobe malfunction. "The day of my best friend's wedding, I realized in horror that my dress was too small, making it hard to breathe," she remembers. It was too late to make any changes, so she stuffed herself into the dress, hoping for the best. "As I walked down the aisle, I took a deep breath, and pop! Both straps of the dress came flying loose, exposing my cleavage to everyone in the congregation," she winces.
Shocked and embarrassed, she dropped her bouquet and bent over to find the threads of the straps completely unraveled. She finished her job at the altar, holding her gown in place with her hands. "After the bride and groom exchanged vows, I exited the ceremony as fast as I could," says the busty bridesmaid. "I changed into another dress for the reception, but I learned my lesson -- don't wait until the last minute to try on a bridesmaid dress for the first
Every bride gets butterflies before walking down the aisle, but some girls develop a serious case of cold feet just seconds before they say "I do." Part of a bridesmaid's job description includes keeping the bride cool, calm and collected, but what if the unimaginable happens, and the bride calls off the wedding?
Some wedding traditions are lovely and others don't make much sense. Test your knowledge of wedding traditions with our HowStuffWorks quiz.
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- Flinn, Gallagher. "5 Original Themes for Your Bachelorette Party." HowStuffWorks.com. Jun. 21, 2010. (Jun. 14, 2011) https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/weddings/5-bachelorette-party-themes.htm
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- Perry, Alison Kim. "5 First Date Ideas." HowStuffWorks.com. Oct. 11, 2010. (Jun 13, 2011) https://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/dating/5-first-date-ideas.htm