Veteran Bridesmaid Kerry Buckley Barnes runs the funniest and most efficient Whatsapp groups for her brides and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to making weddings memorable for all the right reasons. You can’t rent her out but here are her top learnings.
It was as if it was straight out of a cheesy movie: the squealing, the tears, the jumping up and down on the spot, the frenzied clapping, all in all a complete overreaction in a very busy restaurant. I’d like to say I was calm, cool or collected the second or third time round, but nope, I’ve channelled my inner squawking Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding on each and every occasion. Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a serious honour, not to mention a huge amount of fun. But like most newly crowned BMs as soon as the euphoria wanes, you’ll be left thinking “what on earth is actually expected of me?”
My BM CV is pretty lengthy. You could consider me a bit of a seasoned veteran in this revered position. I’ve been to what feels like every dress shop in London; my Amazon history is cluttered with countless orders of willy straws; I’ve delivered a 14 verse limerick as a wedding speech; meticulously planned hen dos right down to video invites; mopped up spilled drinks on dance floors; developed extensive lists of witty hashtags for couples to use; watered down the bride’s drinks and downed shots on her behalf. I’ve attached personalised labels to 300 bottles of wine for one wedding, stitched up the bride’s hem so she could dance more freely at another and have even hidden inside the train of one bride’s dress so it didn’t get blown out of place during her photographs (….and yes, the thank you card was a picture of the bride and groom with me inside the dress).
I’ve learned a thing or two in my time and know it is all about planning, prepping and then some more planning on top of that. From organising a killer hen to what to do on the big day, here are some tips for becoming a prize-winning BM:
- First things first, you need to immediately accept that no matter how stylish the bride is, or how much she insists you will wear it again – you will hate your dress. There is zero point fighting it, or casually mentioning that yellow doesn’t go with your skin tone. Embrace the purple satin and consider it your standout VIP uniform. Get yourself a solid pair of Spanx, a good bra and hope for the best. If all else fails, invest in a horribly expensive day 2 outfit that you know will make you feel better (albeit broke).
- Hen planning is difficult and your most important job so start ASAP. Finding a date is half the battle. Then comes the endless debate of home or abroad, wild night with willy straws and butler in the buff or spa day with fancy meal. You’ll find that everyone has a totally different opinion and the negotiations amongst the BMs will actually make Brexit look easy! It is important to try and keep what the bride would want at front of mind and you can always ask the bride for a helpful steer without giving the game away.
- When the hen finally arrives, remember there is no such thing as over preparing – especially if it’s abroad. Try to think about everything the group will need from the second they land in the airport to the minute their broken bodies board the flight home again. Everything from taxis, to personalised decorations, to a plan for who is rooming together, to what goes into the online shop is important. I can assure you there is nothing worse than realising at 2am in a house full of drunk girls that you forgot to include toilet roll in the online delivery for the Airbnb.
- 87 dresses. That’s the tally of white gowns I’ve seen go on and off in my time as a BM. It’s endless enjoyment for those of us that get to sit there with a glass of bubbles in hand, but is super stressful for the bride – so do try to be constructive with your feedback, and remember it’s the perfect dress for her not you. Insider tip: the bride usually sees herself before she does the big unveil to the spectators, so look at her face for any tell-tale signs before you even glance at that dress. There’s nothing worse than the BM that hollers “No way, I hate it” when the bride reckons she’s found THE ONE.
- When she does find the dress, make sure you attend one of her fittings so you learn how the blasted bustle works. Yes, the train looks beautiful but I am yet to meet a bride who doesn’t want it tidied away at some point in the evening so she can party with her guests. The dancefloor is the only thing that should be torn up (….see what I did there?!).
There’s plenty more bridal inspiration in Image Magazine Jan/Feb, on newsstands Dec 28th.
Photo credit Zoriana Stakhniv, Unsplash