The arrival of May brings off the beginnings of the traditional wedding season. For many, that means kicking in to a Honeyfund in exchange for enjoying an open bar. For a member of the bridal party, a wedding announcement means something slightly more involved. It’s an honor when a close friend or family member asks you to stand with them in a show of support while they make one of the most important commitments of their lives.
In many cases, it’s also a monumental hassle.
If you’ve never been in a wedding, feel free to take my word for it. I’ve worn my share of aquamarine dresses and strappy silver shoes. I’ve invented more than one game for bridal showers. (“Bridal Scattergories” is a hit. Every. Single. Time.) After years of experience, I can tell you that metallic gold temporary tattoos almost always go over better at a bachelorette party than sashes and tiaras.
It’s taken me a decade to earn this expertise, but if you’re new to the game, don’t worry – there are shortcuts. You can count on books to support you in every possible way while you’re supporting someone else in every possible way.
It is possible to be in someone’s wedding and not spend a dime. Probably. I can’t say for sure, since it’s never happened that way for me. Even if one wedding that you’re in doesn’t require a huge financial commitment, a lot of us run into the situation of having two or three or seven in a year. And in a phenomenon I like to call “Trisha’s Law,” they’re never in the same time zone.
Since you usually don’t get to pick the location of someone else’s wedding or the cost of the attire required to stand next to a bride or groom, you may have to plan ahead and budget a bit to get to all of the happy occasions on your calendar. For budgeting and finance tips that will help even the non-wedding parts of your life, check out You’re So Money by Farnoosh Torabi. And for day-to-day saving tips (every dollar counts when you need to tip a limo driver), try David Bach’s Fight for Your Money.
Parties and People
There are an awful lot of people involved in weddings – friends, families, vendors who got invited out of obligation, and so on. There’s an excellent chance that at some point, you’re going to have to make conversation with someone you either don’t know or don’t like. I’ve found that nothing quite breaks the ice among strangers like the right book.
For the last few weddings I’ve been in, I’ve attended a getaway weekend for one half or other of the happy couple, and the one thing I always pack (in addition to booze) is The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk. It’s a book that serves a social purpose and creates conversation. Even if people don’t care about their horoscope, just about everyone wants to know if the traits connected with their sign accurately reflect how they see themselves.
I’ve had pretty universal success with that one, but depending on your group, you might have other options for a crowd pleaser. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die can spur conversation among those with the travel bug, and I wish I’d had Jessamyn Stanley’s Every Body Yoga last fall when I was at a wedding in Asheville, NC where just about every body and mind present would have dug Stanley’s combo of yoga tips and personal reflections.
You may have guessed by now that there are likely to be times throughout this process when you wonder why on Earth you ever agreed to be in a wedding. It may at that moment when you realize that the tux rental cost doesn’t include the shoes, the cufflinks, or the “atomic tangerine” pocket square. It may be when you’re having a 17th conversation about whether lavender and lime could work as a wedding cake flavor combination. (No.) Or possibly when you have to help a grown woman in the bathroom because her dress is too large for her to navigate toilet-use alone.
But in the moments when you’re cornered at a rehearsal dinner by an uncle of one of the brides, politely listening to unsolicited career advice and wondering why you don’t just abandon the idea of friendship all together and go live alone in a cabin in the woods somewhere, books will again have you covered. Frog and Toad Are Friends will bring you back to the basics. Mike Curato’s Little Elliot, Big City will remind you of the cupcake-related reasons why friends are necessary. And Lumberjanes won’t just curb your antisocial tendencies, it’ll make you believe in humanity again.
You’ll notice all three of those last recommendations are relatively short books full of pictures. There are some longer novels about friendship as well, but you probably don’t have time for those. The pinwheel, marble, and fern centerpieces aren’t going to arrange themselves, afterall.