5 Things I Learned from Being a Bridesmaid

kbb_tulips_on_mantel

I’m no Jane in 27 Dresses, but once I did have the pleasure of participating in the wedding of a good friend of mine several years ago. She was one of my first friends to get married and her wedding felt like it was a milestone in my own life, marking that transition from crazy college student to actual adult.

I have to admit at this point that I’m really not a wedding person (although I like wedding movies), but I was wildly excited to help my friend out with hers. I thought I’d be running around helping to schedule dress fittings, sample wedding cakes, and pick out favors. Kind of like in 27 Dresses. (Did I mention I used to be really obsessed with that movie?)

Being a bridesmaid, however, ended up being more like starting a job without reading the employee manual first. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, or that I didn’t have fun at her wedding, but afterwards I wrote a little piece about my experience as a bridesmaid to not only pass on some of my own knowledge to other first-time bridesmaids, but to process my own feelings on the subject.

Years (and many weddings later) I still stand by what I wrote; now that wedding season is fast approaching, I thought I’d share them again here with all of those bridesmaids-to-be that are out there- even those not obsessed with 27 Dresses.

Don’t expect to look attractive. I already knew the dress was horrible on me (as per the tradition of the bridesmaid dress) but I was still shocked when the first photos were posted online. That make-up, that hair, that general pasty awfulness? That I was not expecting.  Try and not let your ego be bruised too much. Your friend’s wedding day is more about her looking good than it is about you looking good. Years down the road, people will look at her wedding photos and forgive you for the hairstyle that makes you look like you have a giant cupcake on the top of your head. (At least, that’s what I’m hoping.)

Bridal showers are super boring. No one loves little sandwiches with the crusts cut off as much as I do, but other than that the bridal shower will more or less consist of you watching your friend open presents for two hours straight. I was happy for her, but it was kind of like spending two hours at your favorite housewares store and not buying anything. (Or maybe you torturing yourself like that!)

The bachelorette party may not be the party of a lifetime. They never show this in any of the movies (well, maybe with the exception of Bridesmaids) but you’d be surprised at how a seemingly innocent night of drinking can rapidly deterioriate into a night of screaming, crying and drama.

You’re not going to know anyone. Literally. After the ceremony you’ll be hanging out at the head table and all sorts of family and friends will be wandering up and congratulating the happy couple. They’ll smile vaguely at you because you were introduced when you entered the hall, but other than that you’ll probably be left to your own devices- and to the bottle of merlot the bride and groom are going to leave untouched because they’re too busy greeting everyone.

It’s going to make you really sad. Don’t get me wrong- I was so ridiculously happy for my friend that I found myself holding back tears several times during the wedding planning, throughout the ceremony and at the reception. No one really tells you what an emotional experience being a bridesmaid can be. It’s lovely and romantic and also bittersweet. Whether you’re decidedly single, or you’ve been married for several years, I don’t think that feeling will ever go away- that realization that you’re watching a person blossom into themselves; the sensation that they’re beginning the rest of their lives. We grow and change and get older, and having the privilege of watching a few select people grow and change along with you is both painful and wonderful all at the same time.

I know the above seems like I’m being all Negative Nancy, but fear not future bridesmaids: when all is said and done, being a bridesmaid can be a wonderful experience that can (hopefully) bring you a little bit closer to the bride-to-be and can help solidify a friendship between two people transitioning into a new phase in their lives. If you get the opportunity to try it sometime, do it!

Just never mind the ugly dress.

KBwB-BFlower-50

Do you have a horrible bridesmaid story you’d like to share? Or even better, do you have a photo of yourself in your ugly dress that you’d like to share? (We won’t laugh, we promise!) Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below with your story and we’ll commiserate.

Filling Up Your Summer Bucket List

KBB_along_the_shoreAaah, summer! How I love thee. Yet, you and I (like so many other people and things that I love) have a complicated relationship. You arrive very late here in Canada. You’re not always that warm. And somehow every year I get so caught up in your splendor, so overwhelmed by the sun and sand and all of the people along the shore, that by the time I pause to take it all in it’s over, and all of the hopes and dreams that I harbored over the winter months have been dashed before I’ve even had a chance to remember what I wanted to do in the first place.

I’m not a big goal-maker, but what I do love is making lists: this year, I’m making a summer bucket list with only the super-fun awesome things that I want to get up this summer. No nasty to-dos allowed! If you want to follow along, your only homework is to enjoy yourself. Take time to relax. Do something that you’ve been putting off, or something that scares you. You don’t even have to take time off or travel to a new place or spend any money or anything. The only rule about filling your bucket list is just that- they have to be things that fill you up with joy, or are fulfilling to your soul.

Here are some of mine so far:

  1. Read, read, read. But that’s a given.
  2. Make the perfect ice cream sandwich. I figure that I’ve already made an ice cream cake; putting ice cream between two cookies can’t be that hard.
  3. Spend one day doing nothing. Seriously. I am a slave to my lists and my type-A habits; it’s hard to remember the last time I didn’t have my day super-scheduled, or the last time I did something truly spontaneous. Or not. I could just spend the day in my pajamas (which for me is practically unheard of!)
  4. Go for a picnic with my sister. There’s one particular spot that I’d love to take her too, and I experienced some health issues last summer that unfortunately caused me to spend a great deal of time indoors. I crave fresh air and sunshine, and I love spending time with my sister.
  5. Wear shorts. This is a weird one, because I have an irrational fear of shorts. Maybe it’s because every year without fail someone comments on my translucent legs. Also, how do you know when your shorts are too short? Where is the line (or in this case, the hem) drawn?

Even if you don’t complete everything you’d like to do on your summer bucket list, it’s a great exercise for the over-worked and the over-stressed to plan ahead for relaxation time. Working through big projects, figuring out tough situations, and pulling long hours all seem easier and worthwhile when we set aside actual quality time for ourselves (no chores or errands please!), and the act of writing down the ways in which you would like to spend your spare time is like a stepping stone to building a life for yourself that’s happier and more fulfilled.

Yes, I’m trying to get you to make another list. You know you want to.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’ve shared mine- now you share yours! Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com, tweet me at @keepingbusyb, send me a picture on Instagram @b_side317 or comment below and tell me what your plans are for the summer. If all else fails, I’m afraid we’ll have to resort to using a carrier pigeon. Or an owl.

My New Wardrobe Rule

KBB_clutchesI used to play this sad little game with myself whenever I was having a bad day- I would go into my closet and I would pick out my most hated outfit and wear with an angry kind of pride, as if I wanted to project to all of the world that I was having a bad day. I was determined to make myself look as ugly on the outside as I felt on the inside.

The worst was whenever I received a compliment at the office or out on the street about the outfit that I had chosen. I couldn’t understand how clothing that I felt made me look frumpy and bloated could be admired by a stranger. Maybe they were just being nice in order to mock me, or worse, pity me. Then I’d get angry and think, “How dare you try to ruin my bad mood with your kind words!”

I am so twisted.

One day I was explaining this weird little habit to a friend of mine when he held up his hand to stop me. “Wait, hold on. Why do you keep clothes that you don’t like?”

So maybe he was a guy and he didn’t really understand. Or maybe I was the one not getting it. After all, I had half a closet’s worth of clothes that I didn’t wear half of the time because I had grown sick of them, or because they were old and had fallen out of fashion.

I think I said something crazy like I needed variety and we both thought it was weird so he dropped the subject, but ultimately in this scenario I really was the crazy person because I could not let go of things that made me feel badly about myself.

It took a lot of soul-searching but I eventually decided that I did not want to be that person that held on to things for the sake of having “things”. I wanted, I deserved, to fill my home with only the things that I loved. Why shouldn’t that ultimatum apply to clothing and accessories as well?

So I purged my closet of all of the things that no longer fit, were bad choices, or- let’s face it- were just plain unflattering. My wardrobe was decidedly slimmer, but I was satisfied- it was actually really easy to give up an abundance of choices in favor of a smaller wardrobe full of favorites that made me look and feel good.

It may seem silly to think of re-organizing or purging your closet as something that can improve your life emotionally, but paring down my wardrobe using my new rule has given me a boost in my self-esteem. I still have the occasional bad hair day (like, pretty much every other day) but I’m buoyed by the knowledge that even though I might feel like I’m dying on the inside, outwardly I can project an image of competence and self-confidence and show people the best of myself even when I’m feeling at my worst.

Plus, it makes getting out of the door in the morning way easier for this night owl. Trust me on this one.

KBwB-BFlower-50Have you undertaken a closet re-organization lately? I want to hear all of the grisly details. Indulge me below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. And if you’re looking for even more inspiration on how to get your wardrobe just the way you want it, I’ve got some best practices for organizing your clothing and more here.