How to be an On-the-Road Bridesmaid

Shopping & Style, Spa & Beauty — By on December 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm

By Briana Palma
LG Contributor

You’ve just found out the happy news that your sister, cousin or life-long girlfriend has a new sparkling piece of jewelry adorning a very important finger. But the announcement didn’t come alone. She also asked you to step into the high-heeled shoes of a bridesmaid and assist her throughout the planning process and on her wedding day. There’s just one catch: your current address (if you even have one) lacks a U.S. zip code. Still, thousands of miles of distance shouldn’t prevent you from going above and beyond as a bridesmaid.

1. Ponder the proposal
The happy engagement of a close girlfriend can leave you with a bit of second-hand ecstasy, and in the excitement of the moment, you may accept the position of bridesmaid without giving it a second thought. Depending on the type of nuptials, however, the job can require quite the commitment, making it important to consider everything it will entail for you, the world traveler. Before accepting, calculate all the costs involved, especially airfare and other unusual situations, like handling the dress purchase and alterations from abroad. Also, talk to the bride-to-be. Discuss your limitations and how you can work together to keep the role from becoming overwhelming. After all, you don’t want to arrive on the big, happy day feeling frustrated and full of regret (or causing the bride to feel that way).

2. Get the dress with success
Unless your friend or sister has an untraditional take on bridesmaid dresses, you’ll don a frock of her choosing on the day she says ‘I do.’ This usually complicates things for the live-abroad bridesmaid, likely to be absent as the others narrow down styles, make purchases and customize the fit. If the bride is open to suggestions, though, you can propose collections with international availability, like top wedding designers Amsale, Eden Bridals and JLM Couture.

Of course not all traveling bridesmaids will have such luck. In the case that you can’t find the dress in your city, you should plan well in advance to order it using measurements, and discuss with the bride or other maids the best way to handle customization. If you’ll return home just days before the wedding, you can either have rush alterations done or ship the gown to your foreign address and work with a local tailor.

3. Search for cute suggestions
Brides naturally turn to their maids and other friends for advice and input on every wedding detail, whether during long planning sessions or quick phone calls. But the separation by both oceans and time zones can leave a live-abroad bridesmaid in the dark.

Still, you can easily give input by dedicating some free time to the job. The web provides an endless sea of wedding information that any soon-to-be missus can’t possibly keep track of on her own. By regularly scanning blogs and other sites you will surely find ideas, big and small, that you can pass along in an e-mail. To get started, check out BrideTide’s comprehensive list of the top 100 wedding blogs for 2010 (http://bridetide.blogspot.com/2010/01/top-100-wedding-blogs-and-twitters-to.html).

If keeping up with the blogosphere seems impossible, though, don’t fret. Use Twitter to gather the information in one spot by following loads of bridal-related tweets. You can even create a special account just for the wedding and make it accessible to everyone involved in the planning process.

4. Share your wanderlust
While working as a sort of telecommute bridesmaid has its difficulties, in the end your travel expertise benefits the happy couple and allows you to bring a little something extra to the table. You can offer to assist with honeymoon arrangements in so many ways, from simply recommending destinations to putting your know-how to use in creating an unforgettable itinerary for the trip.

Still, the possibilities don’t end there. Every culture celebrates a union differently, so why not help give the wedding a multicultural or international touch? If visiting a predominantly Hindu country like India, throw out the “something blue” rule and search instead for something red, the color women of the religion don to say ‘I do.’ And if stopping through Rome, gift a Catholic couple an object blessed by the Pope at his weekly public audience (request tickets in advance). Even a simple gesture like sharing a traditional wedding song and dance from your adoptive country will show the bride that despite your physical distance, you were thinking of her while exploring the wonders of the world.

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    3 Comments

  • Ashley says:

    Great take on abroad weddings. They can be tough to plan though they seem simple and relaxing. This however is a great “how to” for the bridesmaids. Taking on this position truly is a task in it self and should be take seriously. Thanks for the advice!- fans at Costa Rica Weddings

  • Briana P says:

    Thanks for your comment, Ashley. I’m back in the U.S. now, but my sister got engaged while I was living in Spain (and then Italy), so I had to work extra hard to be a great maid of honor. It was challenging, but by doing the things I mentioned in this post, I managed to help a lot.

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