Confessions of a Wedding Planner – Bridesmaids

Written by    Last updated: April 23, 2011

How does it feel to be responsible for the most important day of a woman’s life? Tamryn Kirby was one of the UK’s leading wedding planners, and as such, has seen it all. Here she gives Confetti a glimpse at some of the most heart-warming stories along with some invaluable hints and tips for brides to be.

Bridesmaids

Picking your bridesmaids is never an easy task, and you’d be amazed at the amount of friends of the bride who believe they have a God-given right to assist their friend down the aisle. The minute a wedding is announced they immediately start jostling for position, causing all sorts of internal politics between groups of friends.

Suddenly, you’ll hear friends exclaiming in ‘I’m likely to get very offended’ tones, ‘Well, I hope I’m going to be your bridesmaid . . .’ or ‘Well, I’ve been your friend for longer than . . .’ Even worse, a lot of brides fall into the trap of being so excited they blurt out comments to their friends like, ‘And you can all be my bridesmaids!’ It might be an off-the-cuff comment, but you can guarantee that at least one of these friends will hold them to it.

In fact, they’re often flicking out their diaries to arrange those dress-shopping expeditions before the bride-to-be! The cold, clinical fact is that, for every extra bridesmaid you have, the cost of your wedding rockets. As well as a dress for each one, there are the shoes, accessories, hair and make-up. It all mounts up – and very quickly.

You really don’t need a huge number. It looks odd to see the bride followed by a massive squad, and it does the one thing that’s forbidden at a wedding: takes everyone’s eyes off the bride.

The old saying is that you can count your true friends on one hand, so it’s always worth trying to remember that when choosing bridesmaids.

Once you’ve got your dream team in place, be warned that nothing can divide a group of women like the debate over a bridesmaid’s dress. So if one style doesn’t suit all, then perhaps the dresses could be designed slightly differently but all in the same colour?

In any case, it makes sense to let your friends have some say – if only to avoid the sulky bridesmaid who announces she’ll be changing into her own dress as soon as the ceremony is over, which happened at one of my weddings.

I remember one miserable wench who made it very clear on the wedding day itself that she didn’t really want to be there. The bride, Emily, worked in the City, and had done a six-month secondment at her company’s New York office. While she was there, she’d become close friends with an American girl called Nancy, who she’d flown over to be bridesmaid.

When I first met her, I was amazed. Emily was really sweet, but Nancy was every bit your archetypal cow – loud, overpowering and continually attached to her mobile. She was clearly looking down her nose at everyone – especially me. On the morning of the wedding, it was clear that she expected to be able to treat me like a dogsbody.

I wasn’t the wedding planner, I was ‘the help’. ‘I didn’t get my breakfast, so I want you to ask the kitchen to make an egg-white omelette,’ she demanded, in her haughty Hamptons accent. I looked at her incredulously – not even a please! ‘Perhaps you could call room service,’ I suggested. ‘I don’t want to phone room service,’ she snapped. ‘I want you to do it for me.’ As if I didn’t have enough to do on the wedding day!

Later, after pouting her way up and down the aisle, she plonked herself down in a chair with a drink. Then, for the whole day, she was positively vile, walking around with a surly, sullen face – apart from for the photographs, of course, at which point you’d catch a glimpse of a dazzling smile, which vanished faster than the camera flash. ‘I don’t think much of the venue,’ I heard her bitching to her boyfriend.

‘I thought Emily could have had somewhere a bit flashier than this.’ And surprise, surprise, while the rest of the guests laughed and danced along to ‘YMCA’, she sat in the corner with a self-important look on her face. She plainly considered herself far too fabulous for such nonsense.

If she’d kept her misery to herself, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but what was unforgivable was that the bride had clearly picked up on her bridesmaid’s behaviour. I think by the end of the day she knew only too well that she’d chosen the wrong person.

Meanwhile, one of her other friends proved to be worth her weight in gold, spending the whole day carrying around the bride’s lip gloss and hairspray and being on hand for every beautifying bathroom break. You don’t need a bridesmaid when you have a friend like that.

Confessions of a Wedding Planner is published by Headline and is available to buy at any good bookshop or at Amazon.

Find more great information on our Wedding Planning pages!

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How does it feel to be responsible for the most important day of a woman's life? Tamryn Kirby was one...

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