This month we decided to turn things around a little, to hand over our monthly update to Kirsty, Debs’ best friend. We often hear from the brides about their maids and some of the challenges they face so we thought that it might be nice for other brides who may not have been a bridesmaid before to hear the other side of things. It can be quite stressful being a bridesmaid and hopefully this will help anyone who is not exactly sure what it entails and maybe bring up some points that are worth considering when choosing who you’ll need to help you along the way. Deb and Kirsty are joined by my two sisters, Abs and Hannah, and Deb’s other soon to be sister-in-law, Laura who will make up the bridesmaids – an awesome team!
Hello, my name is Kirsty and I am Deb’s Maid of Honour. I am very excited to be writing this month’s blog from a bridesmaid’s point of view but as I am new to both Rock My Wedding and indeed blogging, I ask that you forgive my rookie approach to blog writing!
Debs and I have been close friends for about 11 years now. We met through a mutual friend and have spent many happy hours nurturing a friendship that has developed into something wonderful. My feelings when she wrote me a beautiful letter asking me to be Maid of Honour were that of joy, pride and excitement. I was already thrilled at the idea of her marrying Paddy, a lovely man who I know is perfect for her, but to be asked to be part of their big day was the icing on the cake. The letter not only made it feel really special, but I now have a wonderful keepsake that I can reread over and over again with a happy tear in my eye.
The experience I had organising my own wedding was delightful and I had a wonderful year planning and making all of the little details that fall under my idea of heaven! So you can imagine my elation at the prospect of being able to contribute (hopefully positively) to Debs’ wedding. I wanted Debs to know that I was happy to help with anything she needed and was ready with enthusiasm but I didn’t want her to feel pressure to find jobs for me. I trust that Debs will tell me exactly what she needs from me and she trusts that I would tell her if she was asking too much. My advice to brides would be don’t worry about asking people for help, just for this one time in your life lay down what you need and let others step in to share the load. And equally, if people are trying to do too much then don’t be worried about telling them. If you word things politely and make reasonable requests, people who love you will always oblige.
When I look back to planning my own wedding, there is one common denominator in all of the images in my mind and that is the people by whom I was surrounded. I had a couple of wonderful bridesmaids which made the whole thing so much easier. I have to ask myself if I would have had as much fun had I not been able to share the experience. With all this in mind, I wanted to do all I could to make Deb’s life easier in the build up to her wedding too. I wanted her to look back, as I did, and feel that she was fully supported by everyone around her. In my opinion this is what sums up the role of bridesmaids – being the first port of call should the bride need an opinion or some advice, being a listening ear and knowing when to talk and when to nod! The bridal party should be people whose advice you trust and respect, and people to whom you are confident to delegate jobs. You also need people who care more about your needs than what their own dresses, hair and make-up are going to look like. This is your day and your bridal party are essentially there to help you and facilitate your choices for the big day.
One of the biggest challenges is probably finding something for everyone to wear. Debs has said from the off that she wanted her bridesmaids to be comfortable and wearing things that they like. This is such a wonderful attitude and speaking as ‘the largest’ of the bridesmaids it can be daunting wondering whether you are going to be asked to wear something that just doesn’t suit your size or shape. As is the nature of people, everyone has a different shape, size, skin tone or taste in clothes and it is very difficult to hit the right spot with everyone in this regard. With this in mind Deb’s approach to choosing dresses has been very reassuring as we know that we won’t be marched down the aisle in something that will forever haunt us.
Having said this, I have reminded Debs that the final choice must be hers. It’s great knowing that everyone is happy with their outfits but the most important thing is that as the bride and groom you can look back at the photos and know that you made the right choices for you and your style of wedding. In the end if this involves people wearing something they wouldn’t ordinarily choose, then that is ok. Amongst your list of worries when wedding planning should not be – ‘is everyone else happy with the decisions I have made?’ or ‘I don’t want to upset anyone’. I can honestly say that we haven’t encountered any clashes of opinion over dresses and everyone has been happy to go with the flow. I hope we have been helpful to Debs by being fairly decisive during the selection process but we have all made it clear that we would wear anything Deb put us in if it made her happy.
One of the main frustrations I have had has been living so far away and not being on hand to help Debs with the daily tasks involved with organising a wedding. I have done what I can from afar (thank goodness for modern technology!) and some jobs that I have been assigned were perfect for me to be getting on with from across the country. These jobs have included things like organising some activities for children to do at the wedding, meeting up for the occasional dress shopping session and of course being at the end of the phone, should Debs want to talk anything through.
One job however that was very easy for me to carry out from afar was organising the hen do. I was thrilled that I was allowed to put my love of organising and lists into action, (I say ‘allowed’ because in hindsight, I’m not sure I gave her much choice!) I know it’s a cliché but I genuinely wanted to give Debs the best ‘send off’ that I possibly could and show her how much she is loved by all her friends. I wanted it to be a relaxed and enjoyable event that reflected all aspects of her personality. So I started where every good plan should start: buying a pretty new notebook! I decided that whilst I wanted there to be many surprises that would make her smile, the main aspects of the hen do should be decided by the bride herself to ensure that she was completely happy with the plans. I read an article by a bride who had been given a surprise hen party and she wrote of her disappointment as it was not what she would have chosen herself. This is the worst possible outcome for a bride to feel like that and I think that although nice surprises are great, the bones of the hen party should be planned together to avoid any disappointment. All the way through I found it very useful to have some of her other friends on hand to run ideas past and just to reassure myself that I was on the right lines. It could be very easy to fall into planning a party for yourself and forgetting the guest of honour!
Debs decided she would like a few days away with her closest friends and family and a classy afternoon tea being the main event. The guest list contained a group of people who were mostly unfamiliar to one another. All were from different occupations and were dotted around the UK so we therefore had to think carefully about when and where to have our little mini break. The biggest tip I can give someone faced with organising something like this is to get a clear idea of what would be happening and enough details to share with people as fact before approaching them. When dealing with a large group of people in a group chat on Facebook there is the potential for conversations to escalate into a list of differing ideas with no decisions being made.
Therefore a date was decided before I messaged the group (taking into account when we thought it would be most convenient for people e.g. school holidays for teachers). Having got an idea of numbers I was able to find a venue in the form of Brookbank Farm, a beautiful farmhouse (with hot tub!) in the Cheshire countryside who could accommodate the correct number of people and were happy with hen/stag parties staying. I then got in touch with Alice’s Vintage Pantry who will come to your venue with delicious homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches and put on a classic tea party for your guests with music, decorations, tea ladies and even a craft activity. With quotes in place I could then discuss finances with people. I felt it was very important to keep costs as low as possible for everyone, to be very clear from the start exactly what the costs would be and to ensure that they didn’t slowly creep up as time went on.
With the plans in place, the group discussions could begin about themes, games and surprises. This is the point at which the ice began to break between the guests and I feel that those early conversations were crucial in starting the process of getting to know one another. I wanted everyone to feel like they weren’t going to spend a few days with a group of strangers and I think that was achieved. At the very least, I united everyone in their hatred of me and my annoying messages. Either way they arrived with a common interest!
So for anybody who is faced with a similar task I would say be organised, be clear about the costs, try to accommodate everyone where possible and most importantly make sure you create an event that truly reflects the bride and her wishes, with her at the centre of all the decisions…even if she doesn’t know about them!
I have thoroughly enjoyed being Deb’s wing man in the months of planning so far, it’s hard not to have fun when the bride and groom are so cool and calm in their approach. I just hope that I have been a help and not a hindrance by offering my opinions and ideas. It’s such an honour being involved in the planning of someone else’s wedding, a day which is so personal and special. I am so looking forward to standing next to my best friend on her big day and I sincerely wish her and Paddy love and happiness always.
So, there we go. A snapshot into our wedding from the perspective of Deb’s MoH. Do any of our other bridemaids-to-be have any tips or advice that will help make things easier for others who might be freaking out at either choosing or being asked to be a BM or even attending a hen party? I know that Deb is all ears when it comes to this subject (and I’m also curious) so lovely RMW readers please do share your thoughts, warts and all.
Until next time, and our three-month-to go milestone…!
Paddy and Debs