The build-up to a wedding has been depicted in various movies over the years, many of which show the tension, nerves and doubts that will all too often bubble up over the lace and finery.
However, I would argue there is only one film out there that perfectly captures the intensity of being a bridesmaid, with the fire and fury at times far outweighing the fluffiness.
One of the funniest comedies of the 21st century, Bridesmaids (2011) follows the journey of Annie (Kristen Wigg), a talented yet unlucky baker whose insecurities spill over in spectacular fashion in the run up to her best friend’s wedding.
Many fans can relate all too well to Annie’s complicated reaction to Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) engagement news, being happy for her friend while also feeling increasingly conscious that her own life has veered somewhat off track.
But what is perhaps most relatable is the universal strangeness of being thrust together in a newly-forged gang of very different women, joined together as one unit only by a shared love for the bride-to-be.
In Bridesmaids, we join Annie as she gets to know five other women from different parts of Lillian’s life, flung together in a highly-pressured whirlwind of white lace, food poisoning and rivalry.
The group includes hilariously embittered Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), sweet, romantic Becca (Ellie Kemper) and outrageous Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Then, of course, there’s Helen (Rose Byrne).
So many of us can relate to the friendship of Annie and Lillian, a lifelong bond that endures despite differing paths and interests. A friendship that feels as significant as any romantic relationship.
Even in adulthood, the introduction of a new friend or a huge milestone event such as a wedding can bring out that old playground panic that your best friend might not want to play with you anymore. That one of the sturdiest, most comforting pillars in your life might just crumble away overnight.
Bridesmaids may well be a lewd, rude and at times completely gross adult comedy, but it’s also a strikingly authentic depiction of close female friendship. Embarrassing bits and all.
Being very much the Annie in my own best-friendship, I could almost feel her growing dread when Helen delivers a knock-out speech or plans a lavishly over-the-top bridal shower. The uncomfortable sensation of suddenly having your talents as a friend put on display for all to see.
In ordinary life, you might catch a glimpse of your bestie’s more glamourous other friends on Instagram or hear about their enviable holidays during your weekly catch-up. Their swishy hair is, for the most part, kept at a safe distance.
But in the lead up to a wedding, such individuals are all of a sudden shoved right there in front of you, representing aspects of your friend’s life that you weirdly, frighteningly, cannot relate to.
With this comes the inevitable comparisons so vividly brought to life in Bridesmaids, with flashy hen dos and overly extravagant displays of gift giving eliciting more fear than excitement for Annie. And she’s absolutely not alone.
According to a 2017 study by Wedding Wire, the average American bridesmaid will spend around $1,200 in the course of her duties. It’s therefore no wonder that so many can relate to Annie’s anxieties over the escalating costs of airline tickets and pricey dresses.
Other women will no doubt be able to relate to Lillian, the sensible bride-to-be who has to deal with the various dramas and fall-outs within her bridal party, only to have her own freak-out at the final hour.
Graphic designer Luana told UNILAD she had ‘got rid of one [bridesmaid] and another who almost got in a fight on a night out before my wedding,’ and she isn’t the only one who has had to deal with pre-wedding theatrics.
PR firm director and former bride Lynn told UNILAD, ‘It’s a nightmare having bridesmaids at a wedding’, recalling:
First, you’ve got to decide who to ask and then make sure you don’t offend anyone. I got married in Santorini so it was already an expense for my bridesmaids. I said obviously I wouldn’t be offended if they couldn’t come as I was having a big celebration party in the UK.
It’s funny how people act when their friends’ get married, I had one friend who I asked to be my bridesmaid, we’ve been friends for about 12 years. And, everything was just a negative to her. She moaned about having to go on a hen do somewhere she wouldn’t have chosen, she moaned about the location of the wedding – I said ‘honestly you really don’t have to come, I won’t be offended’.
Lynn’s friend was adamant that she wanted to be a bridesmaid. However, when Lynn took her along to try on one of the red Vera Wang dresses she was buying for the rest of the girls, things took a frustrating turn.
Her friend claimed she didn’t like the colour and that she wanted to wear a black dress instead. Then she claimed not to like any of the dresses, with the altercation ultimately resulting in the end of their friendship.
Lynn told UNILAD:
The best words she came out with were, ‘I’m going to look like a hippo in these dresses.’ She then sent me a long message about how she couldn’t be my bridesmaid and how selfish I was. Needless to say that was the end of our friendship and we haven’t spoken since.
My other three bridesmaid were brilliant, even though I was a complete control freak. I organised my own hen dos, decorated my own venue on the morning of my wedding.
While I was having my photos taken they hurried off to the wedding venue and picked up things that had been forgotten about. Like the wedding planner forgot to put butterfly decorations on the cake and a guest put confetti on all the tables with my name spelt wrong and they had to hurry around and take it off before I arrived at the reception venue.
Fortunately, in Bridesmaids, Annie is ultimately able to show her true value as a friend and as a bridesmaid when she calms Lillian’s jitters at the last minute and gets her to the alter, having matured notably during the wedding build-up.
With lockdown lifting, many of us will once again be receiving wedding invitations, perhaps even honoured with being a bridesmaid.
I for one can’t wait to attend hectic, flowery, joyful weddings again. But make no mistake; behind every perfectly turned out, beaming bridal party is a flurry of frayed tempers and heated clashes. And no film captures the fun and the chaos better than Annie and the rest of the Bridesmaids gang.
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Topics: Featured, Bride, Now, Wedding
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