Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bridesmaid's Guide: At the Wedding (Part II)

It's perfectly okay to drink incessantly, line dance, and flirt with the drummer, but don't forget you're still on duty here and have obligations to the bride. Periodically check in with her and see if she needs you for anything. Make sure she gets something to eat (with all of that running around from table to table, her food may be whisked away by the waiters before she even tastes it); confirm that her makeup is holding up; help her into the bathroom if necessary. While you'll be satisfying the requirements of a bridesmaid, you'll also be fulfilling the most important duty of all, having a great time.

Superstitions: Guests around the world throw rice or grain at the newlyweds to symbolize fertility and growth in their new life together.

Your Date
This brings us to a very important and sensitive matter. What if you're attached and would like your significant other to attend the wedding as your date?

Bear in mind that it is not necessarily your "right" as a bridesmaid to invite a guest. Guest lists are carefully compiled with a sharp eye on the bottom line; relationships are weighed against the cost per head quoted to the bride and groom by the caterers. If you are not invited with a guest, it isn't because the bride hates your boyfriend (at least that shouldn't be the reason). It's more likely that the reception hall can hold only so many people, and the guest list must be Hmited accordingly. Guest lists are like tiered wedding cakes; intimate family and closest friends are on top, and very extended family and acquaintances are on the bottom. Sounds simple, but think about how the bride's second cousin Trisha will feel if second cousin Lisa is invited and she isn't. The point is that people are invited in groups. If one person from the group is omitted, then they are doubly offended when they discover that people on the same tier are holding invitations to the big event. This applies to boyfriends and significant others as well. The bride and groom can't invite one person with a guest and then tell another guest that they cannot bring a date.
While you may be thinking, "But it's only one person," think again. There are probably ten other people who would like to bring dates; ten people is the equivalent of an additional table. For moderate-sized weddings of approximately 100-150 guests, the line today is typically drawn at engaged couples or live-in partners. Smaller weddings will preclude all guests except for spouses; larger weddings usually allow for guests to bring the milkman if they so please. If you feel strongly about having your significant other by your side at the wedding, it is acceptable to ask the bride if you may bring a date, but be conscientious and make it clear that you understand her dilemma.

If the bride agrees, you have another potential problem on your hands. You are, after all, on duty; being at someone else's beck and call doesn't always make for the greatest date. Often a date is brushed aside due to bridesmaid responsibilities—he can't sit with his date at dinner because she's at the table for the wedding party, he's in limbo during the formal pictures, and so on. For more established relationships, leaving your date to fend for himself isn't much of a problem. However, if your date is someone relatively new (we know of a bridesmaid who had a first date at a wedding) and hasn't met your friends, you may have bitten off more than you can chew. If you are considering bringing a date to the wedding, respond to the following statements with a "yes" or "no" to determine if you are better off going stag:

_ _ 1. I have met my date at least twice before.
_ _ 2. My date knows my bra size.
_ _ 3. My date has met the bride and/or the groom.
_ _ 4. My date is friendly with the bride and/or the groom.
_ _ 5. My date knows other people who will be at the wedding.
_ _ 6. My date has seen me naked in the daylight.
_ _ 7. My date calls me by a pet name.
_ _ 8. My date calls parts of me by a pet name.

If you responded "yes" to more than five of these statements, you should know your significant other well enough to know whether or not he would have fun at the wedding even though your attention is drawn elsewhere. If you responded "no" to more than five, think twice before you bring that date. You'll be in the thick of the wedding festivities and he'll feel out of place; you may even feel burdened. If you answered "no" to all of the above, GO SOLO! You'll have a better chance of getting lucky with the bandleader.

For a single bridesmaid, a wedding is a great place to find a date. You're in the limelight; you're perfectly coiffed; people are asking you to dance. And we've never heard of anyone being rude to a bridesmaid (it's right up there with cursing at a nun). Use,, the opportunity to walk up to that cute guy at the bar and tell him it's a bridesmaid's duty to dance with every single man at. the wedding. It's easier to be bold when you're wearing a brightly' colored taffeta dress. Take advantage of your position and keep a'; pen and paper in your garter belt.

Superstitions: In some rural Chinese villages, sugar cane is tied together with ribbons representing wishes for the bride and groom's life together to be sweet.

Catching the Bouquet
The throwing of the bridal bouquet is one of the most common reception traditions. There are several theories as to where the custom of the bouquet toss originated. One belief stems from early England, when it was believed that the bride was endowed with the power to transmit good luck to another person. People at the wedding tried to tear away bits of her clothing, and tried to snatch her flowers and headpiece. In self-defense she would throw her bouquet to the grabby crowd. In fourteenth-century France, throwing your bouquet was considered more demure than tossing your undergarments (garter). Either way, the belief was that the single woman who caught the bouquet would be the next to marry.

Unfortunately, for every winner, there are numerous losers; in order for one woman to walk away from the toss triumphant, the rest of the single women have to return to their seats, dejected. Due to the advances of feminism in recent years, many brides have chosen to forgo this tradition, which holds maidens up as poor pathetic creatures who need a man in their life. And grateful women around the country have heaved a collective sigh of relief.'

However, many brides like to stick with tradition and feel compelled to include this ceremonial toss in their reception schedule. As a bridesmaid, it is important to note that if you are single, you must participate. You don't have to make an enthusiastic dive for the posies, but you should at least put your arms up at half mast. Of course, if you really just can't bear the ritual, hide out in the bathroom until it's over.

Toasting the Bride and Groom
Though toasting the bride and groom is traditionally the bailiwick of the best man and the father of the bride, many people are so moved at a wedding that they feel compelled to speak. While the bride and groom have most likely worked out a schedule of toasts with the band, these impromptu speeches are a common occurrence as the evening wanes and the liquor disappears. If you are the honor attendant, you may want to express your best wishes for the couple ahead of time. Giving a toast can be a very nerve-wracking experience; even the most articulate people get awfully tongue-tied when they're full of emotion and champagne. As a bridesmaid, however, you are not obligated to give a toast at the wedding and should really only do so if no one else from the bride's side is planning to make a toast, and if the general consensus among the other bridesmaids is that you should be the spokesperson. If you do decide before the wedding that you will get up and speak at the reception, we recommend that you put together a few well-chosen words ahead of time. If you are inspired to speak in the heat of the moment, just try to keep it simple. Branching off into detailed recollections about your shared youth with the groom and playing doctor in his garage may make the guests squirm in their chairs. Resist the temptation to blabber, and try to keep your toast short. Food gets cold and people get bored. If you can't keep it short, put it in a letter and give it to the bride and groom after the wedding.

Toasting Tips
  • Shared childhood or school memories are always a touching source of material upon which to base a toast.
  • Simple congratulations and well-wishing work nicely too.
  • Speak up so everyone in back can hear you.
Superstitions: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: this superstition is perhaps the most recognized. The "old" represents the good luck of the bride's single life being carried into her married life; the "new" symbolizes her new life with her husband; "borrowed" is the tie that binds her to friends and community; and "blue" is for purity and fidelity.

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