Disclaimer: This post is completely opinionated. It is from my experience as a caterer and ‘bridal bitch’ for more than fifteen years, as well as being in seven weddings as an attendant of some sort. It is compiled from the conversations employees had in the kitchen during/after events and cracking up over the antics of whatever reception was going on. It is by no means meant to be a gospel truth, it’s just lessons learned over time!
So when I started typing, I realized I had a lot to say. I guess 15 years of working weddings leads to a very opinionated point of view. So it will probably be 2-3 days worth of postings!
Before the ceremony
- Arrive with plenty of time to get ready. Be it at a church or at a venue, give yourself at least two hours to relax and to get dressed with no stress. Depending on your hair length, you have probably had someone else style your hair ahead of time. Take care. Do not wear a pullover shirt, do not ride with the windows down, do not run after your flower girl. You are already on wedding alert, and cannot mess with the hair because odds are someone there will not be able to fix it.
- Have a ‘bridal bitch’. This is a term that we called the head catering employee that was to wait on the bride and make sure all needs are met. If you are getting married in a church or someplace other than the reception site, ask a friend to do it. Your Mistress of Ceremonies could, but odds are they are otherwise occupied. This person should come prepared with the following items: Bottled water, straws, mending kit, tampons, first aid kit (bandaids, peroxide, etc.), several travel packs of tissues, saltines, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, contact/saline solution, bobby pins, hair spray, serious sticky tape, matches, nail polish, washcloth, and straight pins/floral pins/floral tape. I know, I know, you want to know what all this is for. I shall explain:
- Bottled water: You, and your bridal party, will probably forget to drink while getting ready. If you remember to drink, you are probably drinking champagne. If you attempt to drink any other type of beverage than water you will spill it on your dress. It happens. Always. Someone comes up to hug you and you splash out of your hand. STAY HYDRATED. You can drink after the ceremony. Limit yourself to one glass of champagne with your girls, as you probably haven’t eaten a lot that day.
- Straws: For those that insist on having beverages other than water, and for those that prefer not to spill water as well. Trust me. You will thank me for it. And no, it’s not tacky to use a straw in your champagne before the ceremony. I promise, Miss Manners will understand.
- Mending kit: Self explanatory. Make sure you have lots of white and black thread, and preferably a spool of clear thread as well so that you can use it on any other dress that needs it. This is used to fix improper tailoring in tuxedos, stitch a bride into her dress when the zipper breaks, repair buttons or hook-n-eyes, sew the strapless dress to the top of the bra so that it doesn’t slide down too much, repair a dress train/bustle, stitch a veil back into a headpiece, and once I even used it to stitch hooks back onto a bra so that it could be worn.
- Tampons: Well, you know what these are for. And hopefully people have them on their own. But stress can change a cycle, and women that congregate influence one another. So if your girls have come from out of town and you’ve spent three days together agonizing over every detail, well, someone might be surprised.
- First Aid Kit: Again, self explanatory. For when the champagne glass slips and you cut your finger on a shard. For when you are about to die because the shoes that you are wearing have formed blisters. And most importantly (and don’t laugh) for when your bridesmaid that has a small chest and is wearing a dress without a bra isn’t really cold but looks it. Tear the end off the bandaid and wear it across the protruding area, and voila, no more worries or pointed fingers at the offending bridesmaid (or, heaven forbid, bride).
- Tissues: for the teary moments before the ceremony with the bridal parents, and trust me, they will all be used.
- Saltines: because you forgot to eat, and your stomach is all jumpy. You’re going to need something to keep you from getting nauseous. Plus they don’t drip on your dress and don’t leave stains.
- Baby wipes: to remove makeup that was applied with a heavy hand. To remove mascara tracks. It’s the best makeup remover in the world, and a cool baby wipe against your neck feels good when you’re wearing a 20 pound dress in July.
- Hand Sanitizer: self explanatory.
- Contact/Saline Solution: Just in case. All those tears, tissue shreds, etc., will require extra hydration.
- Bobby pins & hair spray: for repairs. You can never have too many of either. The last wedding I was in, in 2007, I had an updo. I pulled out over 70 bobby pins from my hair that night and thought I was NEVER going to get a brush through my hair from the industrial-strength hair spray in my hair. Yet there were still part of my hair that fell, and yes, I needed the extra reinforcements.
- Serious sticky tape: in a pinch when you can’t find the mending kit, the tape can work as well. And for that small chested bridesmaid again, well, let’s just say that tape is a time honored trick of pageant queens and performers to enhance the appearance of cleavage where there is none. I was a costumer for a performance ensemble in college, and it was an assembly line sort of procedure of girls who I’d have to tape in place. It takes a good friend to do that for you.
- Matches: heaven forbid you have a smoker, but you just might. But most importantly this is for the guys, especially if you are not wearing a bowtie but are instead wearing a full length tie. The ties can snag and you’ve got a ragged edge. Run the flame of a match or lighter along the edge and the frays melt away. Tip complements of working 12 years in men’s clothing.
- Nail polish: to repair chips, and most importantly on those that wear stockings to stop runs. Although this is more of a generational thing, as the younger ones don’t wear them often.
- Washcloth: for those that actually faint or get too hot, so hold ice cubes or just run cold water in it.
- Straight pins/floral pins/floral tape: For boutonniere and bouquet repairs.
- You have met with the coordinators and with the caterers. They have your instructions, and they will follow them to the best of their ability. However you must trust them. If it’s windy outside, you cannot have little pieces of paper or napkins on a table. Adjust to their changes. For the most part it is to make your experience better and less stressful.
- Take as many photographs as you can. If you are choosing to follow the standard of not seeing the groom on the wedding day until the ceremony, fine, but you can still take all the photos of you and your girls, you and the parents, you and the boys, etc. Just make sure that you have it all written down so that the bridal bitch can coordinate the people and where they need to be.
- Eat something. Before the ceremony. You will most likely get very little to eat at your reception. You will thank me for it later, even if it’s just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- I know you love your family, but trust me you don’t want them around but so much or they will drive you crazy. And depending on the size of your wedding party, you may not want too many of them around all day either. You need to relax and enjoy the day, and you can’t do that if you’re entertaining or trying to be a hostess. For a change, it really is all about you this time.
Tomorrow: The ceremony!