Wedding 101: The Bridal Party

Happy Labor Day! I celebrated by attending class, because we did not have off. Strange?

Before class, I completed a 5.5-mile run in 48 minutes – not the best. I’d say it’s a good start for bridal boot camp/masochism/me-being-me training, though. Unfortunately, the lack of traffic because no one else had a reason to be awake meant I couldn’t make excuses to stop at traffic lights at the top of hills.

In defense of my time, the route is painful. Starting from our house you run up Belmont Ave., then up Monticello Ave., then run the entirety of Main Street -> University  Ave. -> to Rugby, all the way down Grady Ave. [catching on to the pup’s name yet?] and then up Preston/Market Street, ending with the uphill strip from Carlton Road past the C’Ville Market shopping center. It’s basically 4.5 miles uphill with 1 mile of recovery. The only way it could be worse is by requiring a run up Grady rather than down. Anyone from C’Ville knows how much that street burns. But, I digress.

The Bridal Party:

Choosing the people you want closest to you on your wedding day is, in my opinion, one of the more challenging decisions. It’s one that is deeply personal and often wrought with complications, such as pressure from friends and family or fear of hurt feelings. Because of this, I can’t provide a black-letter rule to follow. Instead, I’ll share with you what I considered.

I’ve seen bridal parties ranging anywhere from three per side to seven. My first thought when I saw parties on the larger side was, “that’s too many for me.” Thus, I subconsciously established early on that I preferred a small group. Shaun then recommended we have 3 bridesmaids and 3 groomsmen.

At this point, there’s a lot to consider. Being a bridesmaid isn’t a cakewalk. Responsibilities can include aiding in planning, traveling [and staying longer than guests], spending money, attending brunches/bachelorette parties [which in turn require more money and travel] and dealing with an anxious bride. It’s certainly not for everyone.

My bridesmaids are some of my best friends – but more importantly, they’re girls that I think share a great relationship with Shaun, too. They’ve been a part of our relationship at different points in time, and have given their support and encouragement to both of us over the years. They’re also creative, intelligent, and so much fun, and I know I’ll be happy to have the three of them helping me hold my dress while I pee next summer.

There’s my “little” cousin Alix, who was one of the first family members to meet Shaun. She spends time with us every time we visit New York and always allows us to invade her house! I say “little” because although we’re [almost to the day] ten years apart, she’s 1,000,000 times more mature than I am, and an AMAZING writer [she recently won a Scholastic Writer’s Competition!]. Hopefully her parents will let me share some of her writing with you one day.

Don't ask about the hats.

And Erin AKA “Ernie,” one of my bests since second grade. We’ve remained close despite going to college and graduate school in places that were never closer than six hours apart. She’s always been supportive of Shaun and I, and she’s my favorite co-winery-visitor ever. To boot, she’s not only a pro bridesmaid [she’s been a bridesmaid in many weddings because she’s that awesome and loved by all of her friends], but she also just received a doctorate in pharmacy and is now a licensed pharmacist! Beat that.

Framed on my wall!

And my Maid of Honor Kelly, who I’ve shamelessly blabbed about already. Kelly moved down to Charlottesville with me 1L year, so she saw Shaun and I grow from day 1. In fact, the first day he and I met was during law school orientation when Kelly and I hosted a party at our house – he immediately gravitated toward her photography and asked all about it! I always know I can count on her and confide in her – she’s one of the most level-headed girls I know. Plus, Kel’s an expert at weddings and will be able to tell me exactly what not to do. I know she’ll help make the day a blast.

Seriously, blast.

Our first project together will be getting the four of us some dresses. I’m sure that will warrant a post later. For now, I’m happy to call these girls friends and bridesmaids!

Pro-Tip: It’s really important to consider the financial burden on your bridesmaids. Your wedding isn’t just about you. Some people lose sight of that when they only consider their vision for the day. One piece of advice is to choose not only an inexpensive bridesmaid’s dress, but also one that your girls can wear over and over again. J. Crew and Ann Taylor both provide a wealth of possibilities for dresses like these.

Pro-Tip 2: Take their ideas into consideration re: style and fit. They’ve got to wear the thing, not you.


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Categories: Wedding


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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