When one of my best friends, Megan, asked me to be a bridesmaid, I was torn between delight and dread.
Delight because I'd hoped to be part of this wedding ever since Megan and Blake started dating, when we were all in college together – and because I'd always wanted to be a bridesmaid. They always seemed to have more fun than the groomsmen. And dread because, let's be honest, being a bridesmaid isn't cheap. While every cent I spent was more than worth it, it took some time to recover financially.
It all started when Megan, who was also my roommate at the time, texted me a picture of her ring – she got engaged while on a trip to Italy! – I was alone in our apartment. So I did what any self-respecting person in my situation would have done: I drove directly to the nearest Taco Bell, ordered everything off the value menu, and inhaled it in 6 1/2 glorious minutes of celebration and self-pity.
Somewhere between my second spicy potato soft taco and impending indigestion, I learned my first lesson ...
None of this is about me. While a self-indulgent pity party felt cathartic at the time, I realised that it would be ludicrous for me to be anything less than ecstatic for the person who'd been there with me for every major life milestone from age 18 to 25.
This is (most likely) the bride's first and only wedding, so treat it as such. This was a lesson I learned from the maid of honor. She was a real-life incarnation of Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses, and as our fearless seasoned leader, she knew exactly the steps to take, still managing to make it new and fresh for a much-deserving bride.
Show up for dress shopping. The members of the bridal party were mostly in our mid-20s, and we had dispersed all around the country. But no one regretted showing up to help Megan shop for her wedding dress.
Carry snacks at all times. A fellow bridesmaid pulled out a sleeve of macarons, two granola bars and a bottle of water from the tiniest purse I've ever seen and saved the day while dress shopping.
Actually, start carrying everything with you at all times. Chapstick, mints, gum, water, tissues, spare sunglasses. I've learned that if I have room for it, I'm bringing it.
Ask not what your bride can do for you, but what you can do for your bride.
Take time to tell the bride all of the wonderful things she may already know, but doesn't always hear.
Have fun with the groomsmen, too. A little inside joke goes a long way. At some point we decided to simultaneously comment "peppercorn" on all of the pictures posted of the bachelor party, without context.
The most powerful phrase in the English language is: "It's for the bride." I wouldn't abuse this power if I were you, but don't be afraid to use it when necessary.
Sometimes don't ask, just do. From watching Megan, I realised that a room full of people whose only concern is making you happy can actually be exceptionally stressful.
If you don't know the bride, do not assume a bachelorette party wants you around. During Megan's bachelorette party, I was shocked to see how entitled other (presumably straight) men felt approaching and attempting to be physical with members of the bridal party.
If you're single, buckle up, because it just might be the best night of your life, too. Millennial cynicism is my one of my favorite aesthetics, but as it turns out that watching two people give their lives to each other and say their "I dos" can destroy you in the most wonderful way.