10 Tips for Being an Excellent Bridesmaid

Being asked to be a bridesmaid in someone’s wedding is a testament to the relationship that the couple has with you. I’ve been a bridesmaid, a maid of honor, a bride, a matron of honor and a bride’s matron (seems full circle!) as well as a wedding guest, videographer and photographer’s assistant. I’ve been honored with those roles and I’ve picked up a lot of advice to share with other bridesmaids.

My goofy girls – Joni Chatman Photography

1. Be a team player.

You don’t have to be friends with the other bridal attendants. You don’t even have to like them! But you do have to work with them. You’re on “team bride” together so put aside petty arguments and badmouthing and work with each other. Chances are you’re going to be planning a bridal shower and a bachelorette party together as well as working as a team to help the bride get ready, stay calm and enjoy her wedding day. After that if you’re all friends, great! If not, no problem.

2. Be organized. Continue reading

A Cooking-Themed Bridal Shower

Last summer, I worked with a great group of bridesmaids to throw a pretty large-scale garden tea bridal shower for my good friend Natalie. I loved how the theme of the shower carried through everything, so when my mom said that she’d like to have a small, Pampered Chef bridal shower, my sister and I cooked up an intimate cooking-themed shower for her.

It’s weird to plan a bridal shower for your mother. Let me just put that out there. But a lot of the stuff I’ve encountered related to my mom getting married has been a bit unusual so the only option is to just roll with it.

Since the guest list was manageable, I volunteered my home for it. I printed the invitations at home and included a card with parking instructions and notice that my home is a shoes-free environment, inviting guests to bring slippers or fun fun socks. Asking  people to remove their shoes in my home is a frequently misunderstood policy and occasionally upsets some, the best way of preventing problems with this is to give advanced notice of the policy, by inviting people to bring slippers or fun socks, they could plan accordingly.

One of my mom’s friends thought that the invitations were professionally made! Major compliment appreciated!

Because it was a Pampered Chef shower, most of the hard work was done by the Pampered Chef lady, who is my mom’s friend. She put together a board with my mom’s wishlist and brought items from it for us to look at and learn about. Continue reading

Shut up, your opinion doesn’t matter

That’s what I felt like saying to not one, but several sales associates at formal wear stores in the past few weeks.

My future mother-in-law (FMIL) is actively shopping for a dress for my wedding. Being the “unbridezilla” I outlawed a total of 3 color options and stressed the importance of all moms being comfortable in their dress (moms = my mom, his mom and all grandmoms).

Henri’s

FMIL kind of liked a dress at Henri’s Cloud 9 in Minerva so we arranged a trip out there one evening to check out the dress. She had been helped previously by a nice sales associate who wrote down the style numbers for her top 2 picks and was extremely helpful. The sales associate was not there when we arrived, instead a girl from my school helped us out. I use the term “helped” very, very loosely. FMIL had to go find her own dress and sales girl got chatty AT me about her own wedding. Throughout the time in the store she asked me about 5 questions about my wedding, none of which she allowed me to answer. She instead opted to interrupt me in mid-sentence each time and tell me about her own wedding plans.

When FMIL came out in the dress, it looked good but I had some reservations about the color. But sales girl decides to tell me, “oh my mom is wearing that color to our wedding, so it’s ok.” What? I am now supposed to accept something because you’re doing it at your wedding? No thank you. We asked to see dress #2.

We never saw dress #2 because sales girl would not go look it up and FMIL couldn’t seem to find it in the vast sea of dresses. Instead we looked at some more in the room and pointed out a dress that might look good. Apparently it was the exact same dress that sales girl’s mom was wearing (potentially in a different color) and somehow that dress never made it to the fitting room.

I just wanted to scream, “Shut up!” so that FMIL’s opinion could be voiced and I could actually have a conversation with her and not have to listen to sales girl talk more. We walked out without the dress, even if she did end up getting it, sales girl was in no way getting credit for that sale!

Vera’s

FMIL continued her search and found 3-4 dresses at Vera’s at Summit Mall that she deemed show-able. Creepy sales lady, Nicole, was there to assist her. First she was mad that we didn’t come ask for her because she “set aside” FMIL’s favorites. No, she didn’t they were on the rack, which is exactly where we went first.

Dress #1 was a little shorter than FMIL wanted and she wasn’t sure about it. But before I could respond creepy sales lady starts messing with the dress and says the length is perfect. FMIL wanted floor length and asked about a size larger that could be taken in. “No we don’t have that” the creepy lady said. So FMIL changes into dress #2. By this time creepy lady has finally figured out that I’m the bride and has touched me multiple times. Leaning on my shoulder when she turned, poking me in the chest to compliment my necklace, squeezing my hand for no apparent reason… etc. (Each time I physically put distance between us because I do not like physical contact with strangers).

Dress #2 was black…. and black was on the no-no list. FMIL assured me that it could be ordered in another color, but she was afraid of not liking the dress in a different color if she couldn’t see it. I asked creepy lady if they had a dress by the same designer in the color that FMIL wanted. “No, we don’t” was her answer without having gone to check! Thankfully another associate overheard and brought one over. How hard was that? Heaven forbid creepy lady allow us to talk without her present. Meanwhile some weird man, who later identified himself as a designer (not of any of the dresses in question) said that FMIL looked beautiful in the dress and should get it in black.

We all looked at him and said no. FMIL explained that she would not wear black to our wedding, she likes me too much to do that. Designer has yet to figure out that I’m the bride and my opinion matters more than his and proceeds to spend 10 more minutes trying to convince her to go against my wishes (hello? I’m right here) and buy black. We became exasperated and told them we needed to go talk about it over dinner and then fled the store. By this time, I had been ignored, insulted, touched and smacked in the face with a dress when someone was showing it to FMIL. FMIL had been confused, interrupted, ignored and badgered. While changing out of dress #3 (which was the 2nd color of dress #2) FMIL asked for my help changing and in the sanctuary of the dressing room decided to look elsewhere for a dress because the service was so bad.

We had to hide in a dressing room to be able to talk without the sales people and designers butting in.

My Thoughts

Some advice to anyone in sales, specifically clothing, but other industries can benefit.

  • Don’t ever interrupt the customer when they are explaining their desires
  • Don’t be selfish and center conversation on yourself
  • Don’t give advice without finding out whose opinion is going to matter the most
  • Don’t touch your customers unless you are shaking their hands, even if you’re showing how an item will fit when it’s altered (this can be done by only touching the article of clothing)

I tried on more than 50 wedding dresses in my dress search. I encountered some bad customer service there also, like a boutique owner who only had one dress for me that was yet to be delivered to her store (and no, I could not try on the others). Or David’s Bridal where the consultant walked away and my Maid of Honor had to help me in and out of dresses.

With as important as wedding purchases are to people, I can’t figure out why people in that industry seem to think that it’s ok to be horrible. Just by listening to what someone wants, they can gain themselves and their stores great recommendations and referrals. But by being selfish and acting like ‘know-it-alls’ they gain themselves blogs like this and plenty of complaints to friends. (Did I mention that I have a lot of engaged friends whom I warn away from these stores?)