As the dust settles over this weekends incredible Royal Wedding, it’s hard not to reflect back on your own wedding memories. A lesser known fact which probably should be included in the ‘interesting facts about me’ type ice breakers which kick around, is that over my 36 years, I’ve been a bridesmaid eight times.
Eight times that is, until this summer when I’m SO excited to make it to , as I’ll be doing it all over again for one of my long time besties.
I’m not entirely sure how I’ve managed to pull this off; I guess it’s a combo of having a big family, a wide circle of girl mates who all stayed in our home town, and perhaps a bit of just being in the right place at the right time. And, I DO love a wedding!
1982 ‘Baby Bridesmaid’
My bridesmaid debut as an only just one year old. My Mums eldest sister couldn’t get married without having her only niece as a bridesmaid, even if that did mean me being carried down the aisle and eating the flowers in her bouquet. The dress was a red and white spotty number, complete with 80’s frilling, and was worn on my dollies right through my childhood.
My Mum has two sisters, and when her younger sister tied the knot a few years later, my Mum and I were bridesmaids together in another fine 80’s blamanche of a frock in peach.
1987 ‘Rent a bridesmaid’
I was bridesmaid again to a friend of a school friend, because she wanted two roughly even sized bridesmaids to dress in a rather fancy gold long number, with puff ball shoulders and long tailored sleeves, and a lot of gold buttons. Hard to imagine anyone wanting to go to such lengths to have bookend style bridesmaids, but there you go. It happened.
1988 ‘Taking one for the team’
Another 80’s bridesmaid conquest was being a flower girl to a couple who were friends of my Dad through his rugby club. I never really saw much more of them after that as it was around the time my parents split, social circles in my life shifted and it was a really random memory. They had a beautiful garden though…
1989 ‘Bridesmaiding with the enemy’
This one’s another real strange one – I was a flower girl to a family friend, in a pretty home made broderie anglaise dress (which was adapted into my first holy communion dress). The marriage didn’t last, and the bride later became my Dads girlfriend. Without asking too many questions, I remember not being too keen on her, despite having a lovely bedroom at her house where my Dad lived for a while, but it never lasted anyway. Complicated. And why did no one sort out that fringe…
1998 ‘Emerald Isle’
20 years ago this year my Dad and Step-Mum tied the knot. A 16 year old me wore a classic heavy green velvet gown, with a ring of white and green flowers in my hair. The main fashion disaster of the era was letting a 16 year old me do my own makeup – think ghostly white skin with heather shimmer lips. Not a good look. Hair was pretty horrif too, but then again that was life pre-GHDs.
2003 ‘The perfect couple’
In my early twenties, some of my best friends were the first to tie the knot. A stunning day with all of our friends and their family was a gorgeous day to remember. My first bridesmaiding experience as an actual grown up, there was plenty of drinking and dancing involved, and I believe the classic lilac gown with swarovski crystal buttons ended up a bit sicked on at the end of the night. Looking back, it wasn’t a great time in my life; I was very thin, unhappy and generally in a bad place. I’d had little sleep the night before and arrived that morning with puffy crying eyes. Although it was such a happy day, and that couple remain some of our best friends to this date (and still the perfect couple) when I look back at the photos, I can’t help but feel a little bit sad about how I felt at that time.
2005 ‘If you wanna be my Bridesmaid you better get with my friends’
The last time I ‘bridesmaided’ was for a fantastic couple of friends, who left for a new life in Australia not long afterwards. I was in good company, with loads of my girl mates at the time in the wedding party, plus all the lads we grew up with too. The hen do and wedding was amazing, with an amazing band and loads of fun. At this point I was emerging from a fog of the previous few years. I was so much more confident, I had found my inner strength and was ready to take my life back into my own hands. Even in my stature in the photos I look healthier, happier, in control of my destiny and ready to move forward to a better place in my life. It was later in 2005 that I met the guy that would make my life complete.
2010 Always the bridesmaid?
In this case, always the bridesmaid, never the bride was definitely proven wrong, and I walked down the aisle as the bride, followed by some of my god daughters, sisters and closest female friends – although for some of them it was their daughters ‘representing’. With my sisters, sister in law and the cutest ever two year old flower girl, it made for a pretty perfect bridal party.
2018 – The final procession?
So this summer, could this be my last soiree as a bridesmaid? My tenth time to walk down the aisle? Serving one of my oldest and closest friends as her maid of honour, whilst my own two girls run riot with her boys, is going to be a little like history repeating itself from thirty years ago. All the years of walking home from school together, then ringing each other when we got home (on the land line), going to have our first ever trip to a pub together, sharing laughs and tears and basically growing up like sisters; this is the icing on the cake. I have to say, this outfit is set to be my favourite yet (so Carrie Bradshaw) and I know the laid back boho style of the bride there won’t be a dodgy hairstyle or makeup disaster in sight. It’s going to be a brilliant day, and I can’t wait to return the favour of being maid of honour to my maid of honour.
It’s funny really, by walking through all these memories, it tells a story not just of eight dresses, but the progression of my life, with some strong emotional connections to each point in time. One thing is consistent though; every single one of these days made me feel really special and proud, a memory to treasure (well, maybe not rent a bridesmaid!). So maybe now I pass the baton on to my own daughters, who are already about to secure their bridesmaid duty #2, with many years ahead and a lifetime of weddings to enjoy.
But then again, I do have two younger sisters, who I might just pressurise into letting me reach bridesmaid #10, even if I am in my forties when it happens! What can I say…life goals?! #I knewIWasGoodAtSomething