Category Archives: Bridesmaids

What It’s Like to be a Bridesmaid Today: Survey Results

A few months ago, we asked you to share some thoughts on being a bridesmaid today with a quick survey. The goal of the survey was to find out what it’s really like to be a bridesmaid today. We all have a traditional idea of the job, but what’s the reality? For example, we think of a bridesmaid as being able to attend dress fittings or meet up with the bride on weekends to do DIY projects. But since 64% of bridesmaids don’t live in the same city as the bride, that’s just not the reality. Likewise, the classic bachelorette stereotype is a police man showing up at the hotel room with a boom box. (P.S. He’s not really a cop.) But only 3% of readers said they’d want a stripper at their bachelorette party! Here’s what we discovered through our survey. What It's Like to be a Bridesmaid Today: Ultimate Bridesmaid Survey Says

I was very interested in the responses to how bridesmaid dresses were chosen, since I think sometimes the images we see online don’t reflect the reality. Mismatched dresses are incredibly popular on Pinterest and wedding blogs, but our survey found that 47% of brides were still selecting one dress for their bridesmaids and 22% were picking a few dresses for the maids to choose from. Only 27% of brides are giving their bridesmaids varying degrees of freedom to find their own dress, from giving them a color palette to work with (15%) to providing just a few guidelines, like length or level of formality (8%). Of that 27%, only 4% of brides gave the bridesmaids total freedom to choose any dress.

I’m also always interested to see what you think the best and worst parts of being a bridesmaid are. As in our last bridesmaid survey, the cost came in as the #1 complaint about being a bridesmaid, with 66% of respondees saying it was the worst. Our most common write-in complaints were about bridesmaid dresses, from the cost (“the cost of bridesmaid dresses is totally out of control these days”) to your inability to wear them again (“no matter what people say, I’m not going to be able to wear my dress on many other occasions”) to the unintentional horrors of trying to color match with the other bridesmaids when the bride gives you dress-selecting freedom (“I know it’s all Pinterest-chic to have everyone in different hues, but it’s just a pain in the rear end for the bridesmaids”).

On the plus side, there are things you totally love about being a bridesmaid. Namely, being there for your friend on her special day! A lot of you wrote in about your experiencing getting ready with the bride before the wedding, saying “Those were some of my favorite memories from my wedding and from when I was a bridesmaid. It’s so special,” and “I love the idea of being there with friends past and present for the bride. It’s the core of the bridesmaid idea, but it’s what is most beautiful to me!”

Chic Bachelorette Favor Finds Under $5

Real talk: Throwing a party can get expensive. I’m totally guilty of drooling over bachelorette party favor packs I see on Instagram or around the blogosphere. But then I add up the price tag and cringe a little. Chances are you do not have the funds to drop $100 on a gift basket for each guest. At the same time, you want your favors to be cute. You don’t want to just hand out Advil and Band-aids (little known fact: your guests can supply their own Advil!). So what you want is the Holy Grail of party favors: incredibly stylish but inexpensive items. I get you. I’m here. You’re welcome. Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Free swag alert! That’s right, these cute wine labels are absolutely free and you can snag mini Sutter Home wine bottles for only $1.75 each. There’s also a tutorial for creating the little bows to accent each bottle of wine. The perfect thing to greet your friends when they arrive.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Hi, I’m obsessed with these OMG koozies. They are just so clever and cute (and only $5 each!). Plus, I maybe have a weakness for koozies? Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Emma Flhair’s Etsy shop is one of my favorites—she’s got tons of cute hair accessories from “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” to “Last Fling Before the Ring.” These Bride Tribe hair ties favors are a complete steal at only $1.75 a pop.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Oh, Ban.do, you make me laugh. Add some flair to your outfit for $2 each—the Girls, Girls, Girls pin for your night out and the I’m Super Hungover pin for the next morning.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

A shiny little reminder that you are absolutely going to have the Best Day Ever. This pack of 12 Metallic Tattoos will run you $26, so that’s only a little over $2 apiece.

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Beau-Coup is like affordable wedding favor central, but these pineapple bottle openers really stand out amongst their collection. They’re stylish, on trend and under $5!

Chic Bachelorette Favor Find for Under $5!

Did you know H&M has a home section? I know, me neither, mind totally blown. But it’s a freaking gold mine for low-priced cute accessories, like this candle 2-pack for $4.99!

My Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

Sending a “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” card or present is a newer tradition, but one I love. I actually asked all my bridesmaids over the phone or in person because I felt like it was important to have that personal connection. But I still wanted to send them a “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” gift, more as a “thank you” for saying yes! First, I looked at some of the Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards I’ve loved over the years, but ultimately I decided to create one myself, partially because I just couldn’t decide between all the cute ones out there and partially just to challenge myself to imagine something new.

Andrew and I are getting married in Northeast Harbor, Maine, and it will be the first time that most of my friends are visiting this part of the country. I wanted to give them a taste of what to expect in Maine with my bridesmaid gift box. For the card, I went back through all my photos from our past vacations on Mt. Desert Island to look for a perfect background image. When choosing a photo, I needed to find one that had some negative space where I could easily place text. I chose a picture of the rocky coastline of Acadia National Park that has a bit of fog rolling in off the coast, the perfect neutral backdrop for the text.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid card. Create this using one of your own photos. So simple!I used Photoshop to create the card. I added the photograph as my first layer, then added my text as my second layer and played with a couple fonts until I found one I liked. To make the text pop, I decided to use a metallic gold foil effect. Here’s how to achieve that effect yourself (it’s actually incredibly easy). First, I found an image of gold foil online and saved it to my computer. I added the foil image as my third Photoshop layer. I resized the foil until it completely covered my text, making sure that the foil layer is right on top of the text layer in my Layers palette. Then, simply hover your cursor between the text and foil layers and hold down ALT. A little icon will appear. Once you click, it will create a clipping mask that fills the text with the metallic foil. Magic! Here’s a video that explains the whole process really well.

For the other items in my box, I wanted to include one or two pretty gifts I thought my bridesmaids would enjoy and use in their everyday lives, as well as a few things with a Maine connection. I approached picking gifts with two things in mind. 1. Quality over quantity. When you’re trying to fill gift boxes for five people, the costs can add up quickly. So in order to keep my boxes on a budget, I decided I’d rather pick a few nice items than stuff the box with little trinkets. 2. Pick things my bridesmaids will like and use, not just wedding “themed” items. Some of the items have a Maine theme, it’s true, but I also just thought they were nice and something my bridesmaid would love.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

I found the jewelry trays on sale at J.Crew Factory and ordered a different pattern for each bridesmaid. The necklaces nestled in each jewelry tray were picked up during one of my visits to Maine. To go along with the coastal Maine theme, I included a bottle of my favorite Bumble and Bumble Surf products (they smell soooo good and leave my hair incredibly soft) and added a jar of yummy Maine blueberry honey. The finishing touch was a personal note that I wrote to each bridesmaid, thanking them for agreeing to be my bridesmaid and sharing why I was so excited to have them stand by my side at my wedding.

I took a trip to Paper Source for my packing supplies. I needed gift boxes large enough to fit the jewelry trays, but not so large that everything would shift around too much during shipping. I found these white gift boxes that fit the bill and filled them with white and gold shredded paper. I also picked up some gold chevron washi tape to decorate the exterior of the plain white boxes, and a ball of blue and white striped twine which I tied around the honey jars.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift BoxesWill You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes DIY Will You Be My Bridesmaid Gift BoxWill You Be My Bridesmaid Gift BoxesWill You Be My Bridesmaid Gift Boxes

So those are my gift boxes! I really hope my bridesmaids will like them and I can’t wait to see them and all of my friends at my bachelorette party this May in Charleston, SC!

Photographs by my amazing bridesmaid, photographer Marisa Jarae (check out her jaw-dropping Instagram for your daily dose of mountain magic).

A Pastel Garden Boudoir Bridal Shower

A little bit boudoir, a little bit garden party, this bridal shower is all-the-way stunning. The bride and her maids took an afternoon to relax on the beautiful grounds of The Condor’s Nest in Southern California. Though brides choose to do boudoir sessions for a lot of different reasons, the idea behind this party was very much about being comfortable and relaxed with your best friends. All the girls wore soft pastel tulle skirts, comfy cotton corsets and delicate flower crowns. The ladies gathered in the greenhouse for macaroons and champagne, which they then took out to the pool’s tiki bar for some time in the sun.

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Photography: Betsy Blue Photography | Venue: The Condor’s Nest Ranch | Macaroons: Sweetsalt Bakery | Makeup: Classy on a Budget | Corsets: American Eagle, Forever 21 | Skirts: Etsy (similar here)

Help! I’m a Maid of Honor Who Hates Public Speaking!

Your best friend is getting married. You’re her maid of honor. It’s all great. You’re ecstatic. Except for one little problem: You HATE public speaking. You’re petrified about giving that toast at the reception. You haven’t spoken publicly since that incident in history class senior year and no one wants a repeat of how that went. Well girl, it’s time to face your fear. Giving a toast at the reception is part of your responsibility as a maid of honor. And you CAN do it.

Tips and Advice for the Maid of Honor with Stage Fright. You CAN do it!First of all, preparation is your friend. You may be tempted to wing it, because this allows you to put off thinking about the speech, and thus experiencing some of the stress, until the last minute. Resist this temptation. Having a prepared speech will not only help your nerves, it will also help you deliver a speech you can be proud of.

Stuck on what to write about? Take a look at these speech writing prompts and my advice for how to get started with writing. The good news? I’ve already got your first sentence written for you. Start with “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Caitlin and I’m the bride’s sister/best friend/sorority sister/former roommate.” This may sound like a boring opening, but unless you know every single person at this wedding, it’s important to mention who you are and your relationship to the bride.

One way to approach the speech is to think of it as writing a personal letter to your best friend, telling her why you are happy for her on her wedding day. But remember to factor the groom into your speech. It can be tempting to tell all your favorite stories about you and bride—how you met, the club you started in middle school, that road trip you took in college, that one crazy night in college. But remember that this speech is about the bride and the groom. Talk a little about yourself and the bride, but make sure her man gets mentioned too.

If you want to incorporate a poem, song lyrics or a religious verse that you think will be meaningful to the couple, that’s totally fine. This can be a good option for those who hate public speaking, since it’s often easier to present words that someone else has written rather than your own thoughts. Just don’t let that be your entire speech. It’s important to include some personal remarks about the bride. She chose you to be her maid of honor because of your special connection. Use the poem or verse as the middle of your speech and bookend it with a personal introduction and explanation of why you think this verse will be meaningful to the bride. Then finish with remarks on why you think the couple will be a great match, your favorite story from their courtship or your well wishes for their happiness together.

Forget trying to memorize your speech. You’re already nervous, and there’s absolutely no reason to add another hurdle for yourself. It is perfectly acceptable to read your speech from a printout. Keep it to one typed page. You really do not have to talk for that long. Two or three minutes is completely fine. Double space your speech and set the font size to 12 or 13 (or even 14). You want it to be super-readable and easy to follow.

Now practice reading it. Out loud. Over and over and over again. The first time you read it, you aren’t going to be able to look up. But when you actually give the speech, you’re going to want to take a few pauses to look up at your audience. Practice looking up and smiling. You’re happy, remember? If you have to write in cues for yourself, like in a script, go right ahead. Like this: [Pause, look at Amber, smile.]

You’ve heard this before and you’re going to hear it again. Don’t just read the speech to yourself. Recruit a listener. They aren’t there to give you advice, they are there to be your crowd stand-in. They are helping you get used to saying your speech in front of other people. Pick someone who you are very comfortable with. You can even ask them to read the speech to you! Hearing how they read it may help you with your own delivery.

When you get to the reception, resist the urge to indulge in liquid courage. A drink is fine (depending on your tolerance, of course), but don’t overdo it. Liquor really won’t be your friend once you get handed the mike, and an earnest if jittery speech is going to be much more appreciated than a slurred, boozy one.

When it’s time to read the speech, hold your printout away from your face. If you have a podium to work with, set the paper down (this is when your large font size comes in handy). If not, keep your elbow at your side to achieve the right height. You want the guests to be able to see your face while you’re reading.

Keep yourself slightly turned toward the bride and groom while you’re speaking. You don’t want to turn your back on the other guests, but focusing on your best friend and looking at her may help your nerves a bit. Here’s a little trick for you: If you wear glasses or contacts, take them out/off during your speech. Not being able to see the eyes of those watching you can really help  relieve that feeling of being watched. You’ll feel a bit safer in your own private sight bubble.

Finally, end your speech by raising a glass and toasting the couple. It’s the guests’ signal that your toast is over and it’s time to take a drink! Then give the bride a hug and enjoy the rest of your night. You did it!

Take The 2016 Bridesmaid Survey

bridesmaid survey 2

Calling all bridesmaids past and present: We need your help! It’s been a few years since we did a bridesmaid survey and we are kind of dying to know the state of bridesmaiding today. I learned a lot from my first survey and I think I’m going to learn even more this time. It is super-quick, we swear. Just 14 easy multiple choice questions about things like your favorite bridal shower themes, the places you’ve traveled for bachelorette weekends and the best and worst parts of being a bridesmaid. Hopefully we’ll learn a little about what it’s like to be a bridesmaid today AND I can better help you, our readers, by providing articles that address the real problems you have and the things you are really searching for!

Take our survey here

A Winter Girls Getaway to Lake Louise

I love the idea of a snowy winter escape. It’s perfect for a laid-back bachelorette, or just a much-needed getaway with your girlfriends. Erin from Fuller Edge Photography had just such an adventure when she and a few friends headed to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. The ladies started the day off with a brisk sleigh ride with Brewsters Adventures, which took them all around the lake, affording gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and forest. After a quick thank you to the horses and a turn on the ice, the ladies made a lunch stop at Baker Creek Mountain Resort. Sherrie of Oak & Meadow had packed an amazing picnic lunch (including spiked hot chocolate and whipped cream, of course), which they enjoyed around one of the resort’s roaring fire pits. Winter perfection.

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