When a former roommate got engaged, she was struggling with some image issues. To everyone, she had a simple grace and beauty that glowed. To her, she was an adult with braces, she just started to get the early gray hairs, and she had only ever worn these thick Coke bottle glasses. That's all she could see. Her fiance, a dashing man in his early 40s, had the Anderson Cooper looks and the George Clooney affability. He loved her from head to toe and was blissfully oblivious to her self-consciousness. She confessed to a clutch of us gal pals over drinks that she wasn't sure if she could even stand a wedding; all that attention on her would be too much. If she could just elope, she would. None of us were surprised by this confession as she was never known for desiring to be the center of attention. She didn't feel as beautiful as she was--braces, glasses, and all. No amount of us saying, "But you are gorgeous!" would quell her inner voice.
When a bride like her is reluctant to be fussed over, what role did we have as her bridesmaids? Insist she try on poofy dresses and fancy veils? Take her for a makeover? Nominate her for What Not To Wear? Accept her wishes for a small, simple affair with her hair in a ponytail and very few photos?
The Maid of Honor struggled. She knew that our friend, the future bride, would not want the attention of a makeover or a reality tv show deconstructing her fashion choices. The MoH did, however, realize that our bride-to-be felt extremely self conscious about her braces and glasses. While the bride would be in braces for her wedding no matter what, we all agreed with the MoH: we could get her to try contact lenses. Her dark, heavy rimmed glasses were almost the same frames she had in junior high, and the bride seemed overwhelmed by making any kind of change on her own. We worked with the Mother of the Bride to follow up the family bridal shower with a group trip to the eye doctor. One summer weekend, we had a lovely tea at some Aunt's house near Pittsburgh, PA, and then went to the family's optometrist who held weekend hours.
It took a lot of convincing and multiple attempts to get the lenses in the bride's eyes, but the sample pair of contacts she got from the eye doctor opened her eyes to a whole new world. As she blinked neurotically, she looked at each of us for reassurance. What can I say? It was a clear win! She ended up ordering several pairs of disposable lenses for the wedding weekend.
This bride is now back to wearing her utilitarian black frames. The photos of her wedding turned out delightful; the bride is shyly beaming in every single picture. She didn't change anything else for the wedding; she protested having her makeup done by a professional and insisted on simple, chic ponytails for us bridesmaids. Our simple cotton sundresses complimented the understated affair, framing our elegant bride in every shot! Her vision was realized without drama or pretense--it was simply just lovely.
Making a major overhaul isn't necessary if the bride is having image issues. Sometimes all it takes is one tiny change to help show a bride how beautiful she really is!