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Before I Was a Bride

October 10, 2010

Last weekend, I had some family come visit me in Georgia. My mom stayed with Mr. Panther and I, and my aunt and uncle (Cool J’s parents) stayed with family friends. In talking to them, the topic of wedding etiquette has come up a few times. And every time I think about it, I realize how little I knew before I got engaged. Embarrassing confession time!

A little over two years ago, my aunt Rebecca (different aunt) got married. She was already pregnant, and the wedding was a bit last-minute, but nonetheless, she’d wanted to get married for a long time and was really looking forward to it. I had just moved to Atlanta and honestly was a little bewildered when she asked me to be her maid-of-honor. I was poor, lived 1000 miles away, and had never been in a wedding before—I knew I couldn’t possibly do a good job. I shared these feelings with her, but she insisted, so I planned a trip up north for the wedding.

I didn’t take part in the shower at all. I spoke briefly with her about it and when it seemed that her mom had it under control, I stepped back. I couldn’t afford to fly up for it, so I didn’t go. When I flew up for the wedding, I didn’t bring a gift (my parents signed my name to theirs). As her maid-of-honor! Can you believe that?!

I did two things for her wedding. One: I bought a dress (which I basically picked out myself).

That’s her other (much better) bridesmaid on the left, then her new step-daughter (junior bridesmaid, also probably much better than me), my beautiful aunt in the white and me in the purple.

I also cried during the ceremony—a very important bridesmaid duty that I seem to be quite good at.

Couldn’t be bothered to stand up straight, though, could I? Sigh.

That same summer, Mr. Panther and I attended another wedding. Let’s just call the couple A&A. I barely knew A&A at the time, though they’ve become great friends since then. Mr. Panther took charge of the wedding gift selection, and we ended up choosing a $50 Pottery Barn charging station. Again, I was broke at the time, so this seemed fine. I also wore a cleave-tastic dress with little-to-no consideration for its wedding-appropriateness. Mr. Panther and I left early and stole two plastic cups.

Looking back, I’m mortified by these wedding faux pas. I’d like to use the “I was young” excuse, but I wasn’t, really. I was 22 years old! I know ladies younger than that who have excellent wedding manners and are the very definition of considerate. I can’t figure out for the life of me how I didn’t know better.

But now that I’ve witnessed my best friend’s wedding planning process from start to finish (that would be MOH Mellow) and have spent so much time planning my own, I’ll never make that mistake again. Before this, I guess I thought weddings were no big deal. I could not have been more wrong.

Now that I’ve witnessed the astonishing commitment firsthand, here are some things I’ll never do:

  1. Fail to send a prompt RSVP.
  2. Attend a wedding in an outfit that’s meant to draw attention to my chest, or anything at all that is not the bride, who should be the only one people are looking at. (!!!)
  3. Show up at a wedding without having sent a generous, thoughtful gift.
  4. Leave my escort card, place card, menu or program at the table, in view of the bride who probably put her blood, sweat and tears into their creation.
  6. Take part in a wedding party without doing everything in my power to make the bride’s life easier and wedding day perfect.

I’m sure as the process continues, I’ll add more to this list. But when single guests and other involved parties start acting a fool, I think I’ll try to remind myself that I was once in their wildly inappropriate shoes.

Have you encountered any unimaginable behavior, like mine, from clueless singles? Did you commit any major faux pas of your own before you were engaged?

(All personal photos)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2010 9:29 am

    You still have better posture than I do.

    • October 11, 2010 7:21 pm

      I’m sure that’s not true. At least I wasn’t locking my knees—better to be a slouching bridesmaid than a fainting one, right?

  2. Bianca permalink
    October 12, 2010 2:41 pm

    Don’t be embarrassed, Steph. I know NOTHING about wedding etiquette. Your blog is teaching me so, so much. LOVE IT.

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