Maid of Honor: What does it take to be part of the courtship in 2021?

For a woman in the West there are three certain things in life: being a bridesmaid, pay taxes and death. According to a Deseret report, we are likely to be bridesmaids in at least 5 marriages, throughout life. And three of them will occur before we are 27, the latter according to the Bustle portal.

However, it is an activity full of love and hate. The Knot clarify that 95% of the bridesmaids really enjoy their work. The fact of being next to a close friend or family member, during this important milestone, is considered by many to be a decisive turning point in any relationship.

But more than half, also say, that they find this situation very stressful. If you live in the northeastern United States, this stress will increase by two-thirds. The reason? The price to pay. The average bridesmaid spends about $ 1,200 on each ceremony. Counting the seasonal dress adjustments for the civilian, the party dress, as well as the bachelorette party and gifts, the sum comes to about $ 1,820.

Its a lot of money. Especially if you consider that the much of the bridesmaids are only in their twenties, earning entry salaries. “I remember that feeling when they asked me to be a bridesmaid: The emotion, but also the panic,” says Michelle Markowitz, co-author of the book. Hey Ladies. This book makes a subtle satire on the culture of brides and marriages in our times. Without taking into account the challenge of organizing a post-pandemic wedding.

“At that time I thought, this is going to cost me another thousand dollars, which I do not necessarily have at the moment or that I would have to start saving.” To add salt to this open wound, sometimes you have to spend money on somewhat ridiculous things: tops engraved with the inscription Bride Tribe, tens of souvenirs with the tag on Instagram that the wedding will have (in italic typeface) to match with costume dresses made en masse from the other side of the world in a polyester fabric. (“The best thing is that you can cut it and use it again”, is what the bridesmaids say to Katherine Heigl that does not leave her astonishment, in the film 27 Dresses).

Girlfriend War (2009), Dir. Gary Winick.

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Then there is the fact that women are often sold on this idea that weddings are the most important day of our lives. With this mindset, the effort as bridesmaids to try to make everything perfect In celebrating your friend, she is always accompanied by strong emotions such as fear and disappointment.

Markowitz tells us that once, as a maid of honor, she was instructed to wear a purple dress: “Upon arriving at the event, another of the bridesmaids looked at me and said, ‘that shade of purple is not correct.’ I turned around and said, ‘Did you just embarrass me in front of everyone for a purple guy?’

In fact, these conflicts can be so regrettable that they have evolved and become a canon of our pop culture. As we mentioned earlier, both in the movie 27 Dresses and in others like Bachelorette Y Bridesmaids, This passive-aggressiveness is reflected in which intelligent, educated and frankly dysfunctional women undergo the tasks of planning the “big event” that already border on servility.

Sex and the City (2008). De Michael Patrick King.

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Even in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding, In the climax scene where Julia Roberts (as maid of honor) must offer her speech to Cameron Díaz, the character states: “I had the weirdest dream in the world” (as the camera zooms in on her lilac dress) “I dreamed that a psycho was trying to damage the relationship between the two of you. ”

It’s easy to think that The role of bridesmaid is very close to the manias of our times. Everything seems coherent as we organize an Excel in pastel tones with the budget of the bachelorette party, we open links from Airbnbs in South Beach, while you play charades with the girlfriend. But perhaps it is less frequent to normalize it, as women have a higher level of education and acquire greater retention in their workplaces. Meanwhile the idea of ​​the “big day”, as the pinnacle of life, diminishes.

“I have been working and living independently for a decade supporting my parents, so there are many events (good and bad) that have made me what I am,” explains writer Hannah Kirshner, who once commented for Vogue: “I have had and plan to continue to have exciting times in my career and personal life. My wedding has been one of them, but not the only one ”.

The history of the bridesmaids

Plus, apparently, being a bridesmaid has always been a real headache. The murky origin of bridesmaids dates back to the Roman Empire, where by law you needed multiple witnesses to celebrate a wedding, the same happened in feudal China. “A bride also had to have guests to ward off evil spirits,” he commented to him. New York Times, in 2018, Texas Christian University sociology professor Angela Thompson.

“By having several women dressed in the same way, the spirits or captors could not identify the bride.” A friend who is called a maid of honor, after hearing this story told me: “Holy God! I hope to receive, at least, many bags of bridesmaid gifts, before that day.

Even when in our times, kidnapping brides is not a common practice. Being at a wedding has irritated women throughout the centuries. “Thoughtful men generally admit that in the beginning there must have been a good reason for the employment of groomsmen in the ceremonies, a reason that has now been totally forgotten (…) No one can point out any purpose for which these accomplices in the marriage serve. “, noted a columnist in the December 4, 1879 edition of the New York Times.

On the other hand, in a text published in the Pictorial Review from 1905 under the title Wedding arrangements: plans for the Easter bride, there is already talk of the hideous dresses bridesmaids must sometimes wear. “Bridesmaid dresses have long suffered from monotony in design, lack of taste in selection, and surprisingly precarious execution,” wrote the author.

However, as traditions evolve, things slowly change. The Knot reports that since 2015 there has been a decrease in women wearing the same dress for a marriage, from 55% in 2015 to 31% in 2020. Some brides have taken this trend even further, by only asking their friends to stay inside of a color palette.

And while having dozens of bridesmaids was common, many brides have chosen to reduce the numbers. Say goodbye to the party, or please, unless there are no more than three celebrations, with limited guests. Our couples had to stick to the essentials, ”is what Fallon Carter, wedding planner, revealed when asked about weddings after the pandemic. “The hours of makeup and hairstyle that we save now have opened a new universe of possibilities in our agenda for the day.”

Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a part of us that would regret it in case the bridesmaids culture (even with its silliest points) were to completely disappear. “I really miss that time in my life. It’s crazy, I really didn’t expect to feel that, ”confesses Markowitz, who is just shy of forty.

“We had all the time in the world to be together, stay in an Airbnb, and write to each other in chats group. Of course there were annoying moments, but also other very good ones ”. So go ahead, put on your lilac dress, put the hashtag to that play on words with the last names of the bride and groom and remind everyone in the chat not to be late with the payment of the things necessary for the farewell. Because one day you will miss those moments.

Article originally published in Vogue US, vogue.com.