Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride: Why being a Lady-in-Waiting is such a Cliché

September 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment


Always-a-Bridesmaid-Never-a-BrideUnsightly, ill-fitting dresses.  Unflattering, indistinguishable hair.  Gaudy, overpriced accessories and uncomfortable, dyed-to-match shoes.  No, this is not the wardrobe from a rejected Broadway play.  This, unfortunately, is the daily life of a today’s bridesmaid. 

UsingEnglish.com pathetically defines the idiom always a bridesmaid, never a bride as: “If someone is always a bridesmaid, never a bride, they never manage to fulfill their ambition – they get close, but never manage the recognition they crave.” 

Wow.  Is being a bridesmaid really that depressing?  Looking at the facts, it would be hard to argue the alternative. 

Media Faux Pas 

It is pretty safe to say, psychologically speaking; most things are blamed on one of two things: mothers and / or the media.  In the case of the bridesmaid, mothers easily take a back seat to media, who have – on several occasions – shown bridal attendants in a negatively skewed light. 

Take for instance, Listerine’s 1920s ad campaign, where chronic halitosis is the explanation given to the saying “always a bridesmaid.”  This classically portrayed advertisement pays homage to ever present battle of good vs. evil.  Armed with minty fresh breath, young, attractive men and women are able to find love and get married; while their single, unsatisfied counterparts are left to lead a depressing life of solitude and isolation do to their malodorous breath.  Excellent. 

Also to be examined is the bridesmaid’s role in cinema.  Often shown as sexually promiscuous, male fantasies (Wedding Crashers) or desperately annoying, single family members (My Best Friend’s Wedding), the function of the bride’s correspondents never seems to fair well… for anyone… ever. 

Money Crunching 

As if the relentless high jinx surrounding a bridesmaid’s social status is not cause for enough trauma, each girl must also deal with the ensuing, financial burden.  Perhaps a suitable mantra for the bridesmaid could come from George Harrison’s 1988 hit, where he appropriately belts, “It’s gonna take money!  A whole lotta spending money!”  And while Mr. Harrison might have ended his verse with “to do it right,” one could argue a fitting substitute could be “to be a ‘maid.” 

According to The Wedding Report, Inc., a research company that researches and supplies statistical figures, spending and consumer trends in the wedding industry, in 2009, the bridesmaids’ business will gain an estimated $9.61 billion this year alone!  

So, what does that mean for the individual bridesmaid? 

It means, unless a girl makes some serious bank, she should probably consider getting a second job, learning wizardry or having less friends.  Because this multi-billion dollar industry was built using the money of single bridesmaids everywhere, each girl should mentally prepare for the credit killer ahead.  Once the dress, alterations, shoes, accessories, bridal shower and bachelorette party supplies, gifts, hair, manicure, pedicure, travel, (aaahhh!) etc. are all totaled, each lady in waiting will spend around $1,403. 

That’s a lot of chi for a dress that is rarely re-worn, hair that lasts for a day and a gift that will potentially just be returned for cash. 

Silver Lining

But even if the all these worst case scenarios and regrettable situations are all true, there is still hope for these previously defined unwed, disillusioned, halitosis toting ladies.  Once they discover dental floss, find a man and knowingly get hitched themselves, they can happily return the $1403 bill (as well as their gift) back to all the ladies who did it to them.  Mmmwhahaha!

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Entry filed under: The Inside Track, Wedding Etiquette. Tags: , , , , , , .

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