Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bridesmaid duties

I've been asked what I'm going to wear as a bridesmaid, and the answer is, no idea, never done it before. I've been an official non-bridesmaid twice, & I've put in some serious non-bridesmaid hours at other weddings over the years: taking the official photographs, reading in church, flower arranging, even baking a wedding cake, but I've skipped the dress-wearing part up until now.

For M's wedding in the Vienne, L & I did a major road trip from London across France with the wedding dress and spent a week doing helping get everything ready at her father's wonderful farmhouse in the August sunshine.I think I got the better side of the bargain: I got to read a beautiful poem during Mass, and L wore the fuchsia satin strapless fishtail dress. (She looked fabulous but so not my thing, and I'm four inches taller than both M & L.)

I went to my first American wedding when I was 19 and visiting friends in St Louis, MO. I was gobsmacked at how different it was. Ten grown-up bridesmaids wearing black (a definite no at home) & matching groomsmen was so different from an English wedding.

I saw that truly abysmal Katherine Heigl flick '27 Dresses' the other day. The scenario of being in 27 different weddings just wldn't happen in the UK where a) traditionally you can only be a bridesmaid if you are unmarried, (although a married friend can act as matron of honour), & b) it's pretty normal to have just one or two grown up bridesmaids, if any, with the rest little ones in sweet ballet frocks or shorts & shirts.

The wedding party is actually quite small. There is a best man, but the rest of the groom's mates are called ushers. They seat people in church & hand out the orders of service, generally helping out, but that's it. They will usually wear button holes but it's considered pretty naff for them to all wear the same outfits as the groom and best man.

BA is something very important at a major American fashion house, and says she wants her wedding to be small & sophisticated. Her fiancé is French but American educated so I guess the wedding will be a mélange of different traditions. I trust her implicitly to choose something beautiful for each of us. (She's already decided we won't be matchy-matchy, thank goodness, as all three of us bridesmaids look completely different in hair, figures, height.) I can guarantee that none of us will be wearing lemon yellow frills, but I'm certainly going to continue torturing her with ghastly wedding dress suggestions.

Photo: Outbuildings at M's father's farmhouse in the Vienne, France