Why I Regret Asking My Bridesmaid To Wear A Dress At My Wedding

by Brandi Jeter Riley

My number one goal for my wedding was for everyone to have a good time. My friends and family were flying in from the other side of the country and making big sacrifices to be in California on my special day. Because of that, I wanted the entire experience to be low-key. I was no bridezilla. In fact, I was the opposite. I did everything I could to make things comfortable for my loved ones, especially my bridal party.

I won a contest that allowed my bridesmaids to get their dresses for free from a major chain, and I was very nonchalant about the dresses they wore. They all had different body shapes, and I wanted them to feel good, so I asked them to pick out what they wanted. Shoes, accessories, hairstyles — everything was up to them, it was their choice. The only thing I chose was the color.

The wedding was lovely. All of my close girlfriends talked about how special the experience was for months, and even years, afterwards. Even to this day, I periodically go back and look at pictures. It doesn’t even have to be a special occasion. I just enjoy reminiscing about one of the best days I’ve ever had in my life.

Recently though, while going through photos again, I made a startling realization. My best friend was wearing a dress. It wasn’t like she hadn’t worn a dress before, but for nearly a decade before my wedding, she had eschewed dresses, skirts, and other traditional “women’s clothing” for pants, slacks, button-up shirts and the like. She has a great sense of style and always looks good.

As I scrolled through picture after picture of her looking beautiful in the dress she’d picked out in the color I’d requested, I felt like the worst friend in the world. Not once had I even considered asking my bestie if she’d prefer to wear pants or a suit instead of the dress. I couldn’t believe how thoughtless I had been.

She and I had been friends for nearly twenty years at that point. We had gone to high school together, and remained incredibly close all through college and afterwards. She’s one of a handful of people who knows all of my secrets, and I trust and love her with my entire heart. And still, I hadn’t even asked if she’d prefer to wear something other than the dress, something she could be comfortable in.

And the truth is, I wouldn’t have cared either way. I didn’t have a ridiculously specific vision of how my wedding should look. Optics weren’t my concern even a little bit. But that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter if I cared about whether my friend wore pants or a dress; it matters that I should have at least been aware and made sure that she had the option.

When people say that someone’s sexuality or race or gender doesn’t matter, that they don’t see color, or that it makes no difference to them, they run the risk of doing exactly what I did: not seeing the person. Even as open-minded and accepting as I thought I was, I still missed an opportunity to show love to my dear friend. It makes me sick, especially since I know what it feels like to be overlooked or not considered.

Once I realized my mistake, even though it was almost five years later, I reached out to my bestie. She assured me that it was okay, she was just thinking about making sure I had a magical time — which made me feel even worse. Because she had made sure I had a magical wedding. Everything I needed, things I didn’t anticipate, she and my other bestie were there taking care of me. I had a chance to be a true ally to a real friend and I blew it.

I can’t go back and re-do my wedding day, but now that I know I’m not immune to my perspective making me blind to other people’s experiences, I’m slowing down to think about what the people close to me need. So that I don’t make the same mistake again.