Bridesmaids have been getting a bum rap recently. A modern bridesmaid wears many hats. Party planner, counsellor, keeper of secrets… Let’s be honest, they’re basically a one-woman version of the Queer Eye team, and for that, I fucking salute them!
But when did these close friends go from ladies who turn up to the church on the day in a nice dress (exactly what our mother’s bridesmaids would have done) to pre-wedding slave friends? Emotional punching bags that organise everything from strippers to destination getaways, people who by some people’s measures are expected to go into debt to pay for a dress and talk you off a ledge when the napkins that you ordered are delivered without the lacy imprint?
I am hoping you aren’t that kind of bride (of course you aren’t, you’re a Rock n Roll bride!), but the evolution of the bridesmaid has been swift, and I think rather brutal.
In ye olden times, a large group of bridesmaids provided an opportunity for showing off the bride’s families social status and wealth – the more you had, the higher up the ladder you were. The bridesmaid tradition originated from Roman law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding to outsmart evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies (otherwise known as your future mother-in-law! Boom-tish! Sorry). The bridesmaids and ushers dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn’t know who was getting married. So, it has a bit of history.
Many of our modern wedding rituals are based on traditions, superstitions and social oddities. When you break them down, they are fairly naff. Unless you’re part of the Kardashian clan (and even that’s a stretch), you’re probably not focused on the symbolism and social hierarchy of the bridal party and the only evil spirit that may mar your day is tequila.
Other than finding a sweet lover to marry and someone qualified to marry the pair of you, avenue is probably the next most important thing. Because you cannot get married nowhere.
Yep, your wedding definitely has to be held somewhere. It’s really hard to finish your wedding invitations without an address, and it’s very hard to attend a wedding without a place. Finding the right venue to get mazzed in could be one of the very best things you can do to guarantee* a sweet wedding planning adventure. Is that too big a call? Maybe. Do I stand by it? Yeah man. What’s the point of all these questions? Who really knows…but anyway, venues.
After a whole career spent researching every wedding venue in the entire universe, it has become clear to me that there’s never been more options for you to choose from. Amazing! Lucky you! No longer do you need to choose between 1.7 options, all of which include the chicken or the beef and lycra chair covers.
But also, the endless variety of options now available means you can get trapped in a venue vortex wormhole real quick. You will eventually extricate yourself, but you will straight up NEVER be the same again. Here are some tips to protect you from such a fate and help you find that special venue. Ignore this advice at your own peril, silly.
After a year when most hen parties were either cancelled or hosted over Zoom, we asked you what you thought a new year could bring for this rite of passage…
Hen do, bridal shower, bachelorette party – wherever you’re from and whatever you call it, the celebration of the transition from Miss to Mrs is a time-honoured tradition and a good excuse to kick up your heels to mark the beginning of a new era.
We asked some of the members of our private Facebook group what their frets and fears were about planning a hen party in this new world we now live in. The response was clear – an overwhelming theme of uncertainty, being unsure of what to plan due to continuing local lockdowns, money worries and asking too much of friends.
So, what are the options? Do we plan differently, or throw caution to the wind and blow up the inflatable genitalia for a traditional L-plated bash? Ultimately, it’s got to still be a unique and awesome event, so here are some ideas to help you decide how to best celebrate.
It’s safe to say that a lot of control was taken away from 2020/ 21 couples. So, plan something that you can control. A safe bet is keeping your hen party outside in the fresh air, and that’s likely where you’ll be able to celebrate with more people, feeling comfortable and safe. Not always practical in the cold weather, but warmer months bring the promise of posh picnics with bespoke hampers and a fun theme, a small local music festival with authentic hay bales, or a punt down the river with champagne. Perfect for a smaller group, and easier to keep socially-distanced if needed.
If you and your friends are happy being inside, take control of your surroundings and hire a space – a small independent theatre for a movie night, an afternoon tea river cruise, or hire a countryside accommodation for the weekend and hunker down with fluffy blankets, monogrammed pjs, old movies and your body weight in popcorn alongside a few friends.
There really is no other day like your wedding day. It’s the ultimate day for ‘all things you’. But it’s not just that. It’s also the excuse to throw your dream party where none of your close friends and family are allowed to complain (to your face anyway).
This is both a joy and a curse because what starts out as a day all about love can turn into a monster event for 250 people with bells, whistles and a horse and carriage.
Take it from me, I wanted a Rock n Roll Bride wedding of the highest order. I wanted my wedding to be the most fun, beautiful and memorable ‘do’ that any of my guests had ever been to. I wanted the best photographer, the best venue, the best flowers and the best entertainment. I even wanted (and was lucky enough to get) a pink Cadillac to arrive in. Not to mention, I wanted a free bar so that everyone would get drunk and have a good time.
I was very lucky to have a beautiful day. But looking back at the whole experience, should I ever have to plan another wedding (for anyone), I would say…chill. out. babe. You are only in competition with yourself (regardless of what you may think) and sadly competing in the ‘Competitive Games of You’ is really a losing battle as the expectations we put on ourselves are far higher than we’d ever put on anyone else. During this unprecedented time, it’s likely that some things in your life may have to change, that likely includes your wedding plans, too.
If you’ve been dreaming about your big day since you were little, this might be a huge blow. Even if you haven’t, I know how easy it is, once you decide to get hitched, to get totally swept away in all the Instagram confetti inspiration. When we hold our wedding up as having to be ‘THE BEST DAY OF OUR LIFE’ but come on now, that’s a lot of pressure. It means that when something goes wrong (and it likely will), the impact can feel devastating. There is so much pressure to have ‘the perfect day’ that you can lose sight of the reason you wanted to get married in the first place…LOVE!
HERE ARE MY TOP TIPS FOR NAVIGATING CHANGE AND SHIFTING YOUR EXPECTATIONS:
REMEMBER THE REASON YOU WANTED TO GET MARRIED
I know it sounds ridiculous, but trust me, I barely saw my husband on my big day. I actually barely spent any time with my best friends because there were so many other people that I felt I needed to talk to. Write out your ‘why’:
Why do you really want to get married? Hopefully it’s about more than a big party. Then write out what you want to get out of your wedding (maybe include your partner in these
exercises, too!) Is it that you want to declare your love, or do you mostly want to see all the people you love together? How important is it to have a photo that you absolutely love of your grandma? Do you want to have a memory of you and your loved ones boogying on the dance floor? Let these be your North Stars when things start to change. When the planning seas get choppy, look at your list and let it guide you.
THINK OF THE ONE DETAIL THAT’S GOING TO MAKE YOUR HEART SOAR (AND LOOSEN UP ON THE REST)
It’s very hard to feel breezy about things when we’re holding the rope so tight on all our plans…so this is your invitation to ease your grip a bit. The likelihood is, your budget is not going to stretch to all that your heart thinks it needs for the big day. This can feel disheartening. In fact, when things change and we don’t want them to, it can really bloody suck! So, think of one really amazing detail that’s non-negotiable i.e. you really want an arch to get married under. Great, focus on this detail and go bananas on it. Make it THE thing you can feel most proud of. Then decide that whatever happens to the other plans, it really doesn’t matter.
With new restrictions, local lockdowns and the ever-looming presence of Covid-19, weddings seem to be balancing on a knife edge. Here at Rock n Roll Bride (I mean, its a wedding industry wide feeling TBH!) we feel such anguish for those couples who planned a 2020 wedding and have now had to push back. Today, writer LJ Stocks shares six ways you can still make your postponed wedding date special.
If you’ve been planning your wedding for a long time and have dreamt joyful singing, jam-packed dance floors and tight hugs from your closest friends and family, having to postpone your day is, to be blunt, a huge disappointing pain in the arse. Maybe you’ve opted to have a smaller Covid secure ceremony with a big party planned for next year (fingers crossed!) or maybe you’ve pushed back entirely. Whichever camp you’re in you’ll have had to make tough decisions and it sucks balls.
For those of you who can see the date of your postponed wedding approaching, I think it’s really important to still mark the day, rather than see it pass by without a mention. As well as recognising the hard work and planning that you’ve put in, it’s an excuse to take a break from this hellish year and do something fun with the one you love.
Because if we don’t take every opportunity for fun at the moment, life is just going to start dragging us down! So, chin up girl, let’s take a truly weird situation and make it fabulous.
Here are six ideas for rocking your ‘supposed-to-be-wedding’ day.
Take a day off
Meet up with your bridal party (as long as the numbers adhere to whatever the social distancing guidelines are in your town/ country at the time…) Socially distanced fun with your bridesmaids and best men will mark your day in style. Picnic in the park? Day out at a theme park? Dinner at your favourite eatery? Grab your face mask and just get super silly for the day.
Photo shoots are back on! See if your wedding photographer is still available and frolic in fields, build sandcastles on a beach or get moody around a sunset fire pit to capture memories on the day that should have been your wedding. I love the idea of making a real occasion out of the day. Rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, mark the day with some epic shots to look back on in years to come. It’s all part of your wedding and marriage journey.
2020 always felt like it was going to be numerologically significant number, didn’t it? I think it’s fair to say that it’s really not disappointing us! We are living through a bizarre and surreal moment in history, one that could be straight out of a Hollywood movie. While I’ve been heartened by the rise in community spirit, and have been so grateful that technology has lessened the impact of isolation (the internet, as always, proving to be a creative hotbed for humour), I have found myself despairing at the onslaught of exercise videos, healthy cooking advice and the normalisation of fatphobic ‘jokes’ and memes.
My coaching clients have shared that it’s not just the people who they expected might share such hurtful, thoughtless ‘jokes’, but even close friends who they had thought would be more considerate and respectful. Let’s not even fall down the rabbit hole talking about poor Adele.
For a vast chunk of the population, it appears that dying a horrible death isn’t their biggest fear during COVID-19, but rather it’s putting on the ‘quarantine 15’.
While the body positivity movement has made some strong inroads into diet culture, the tendrils of the thin ideal and fear of fat run deep. There is, sadly, still a lot of work to do before the poisonous idea that gaining weight is ‘bad’ and losing weight is ‘good’ can be fully debunked.
Come on people, it’s 2020. The future is here! Aren’t we past fat jokes now? Can’t we see the hurt they cause? And moreover, can’t we see that fatphobia is a form of discrimination? And the worship of thinness, especially in the tabloids (again, poor Adele), keeps us thinking that this is what we should all be striving for.
For me, I’m also noticing a total lack of regard that ‘jokes’ about overeating, restrictive eating and/or binge eating could be incredibly triggering for people recovering from, or coping with, disordered eating or eating disorders.
So, why has there been such a rise in diet culture?
It comes down to people grasping at things they feel they can control in a moment of collective uncertainty within the construct of a social narrative that says we must all be shrinking ourselves to be happy.
Diet culture is so ingrained in our shared culture that even during a time of unprecedented crisis it still permeates into our behaviour.
We are sold the idea that our bodies are easy to control if we can only be disciplined enough. We are also sold the myth that there is one correct way to have a body via the beauty standard (which currently puts thin, white, able bodies at the top of the hierarchy).
We are unable to move, eat and live how we would choose to at the moment, and a lot of people are trying to counter this by creating content that gives them the illusion of control.
Make no mistake, ‘health’ is often diet culture dressed up in lycra. Today, we are meant to be striving for ‘health’, which is, let’s be honest, frequently equated with gaining the ‘perfect body’. In reality, true health is holistic and a far wider reaching concept than a number on the scales. You can be thin and unhealthy and fat and healthy. Health should also include our mental health and we know that diet culture is a shit show for that.
Every time ‘should’, ‘ought’ or ‘must’ pop up in your mind with regards to food – challenge them. Is it just your pesky inner critic beating you up? Tell that bitch to leave the room, because judgement has no place in the most stressful and challenging moment we’ve experienced in generations!
I know that putting on weight might feel like a disaster if you have a wedding coming up, but it really isn’t unless you let it take over in your mind.
What has brought me a lot of solace during this time is seeing lockdown as the ultimate collective act of love. We have stayed home to protect the people we love, to keep the key workers from being too overwhelmed and to keep ourselves safe. If you manage to have a wedding this year, don’t let any changes in your body get you down. Focus on the reasons you wanted to get married, focus on having your favourite people around you or being able to sneak off on your own…and focus on the love. Because, at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.