In the 2008 movie “27 Dresses,” Kathryn Heigl’s character Jane is “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” She has kept all of those dresses, and in a memorable scene, she tries them all on. Some are hideous and some are just hilarious. I, too, have been a bridesmaid several times — seven. I have saved all of those dresses and keep them in a back closet with other special garments that I will probably never wear again. They are next to my wedding dress and a Hawaiian sundress that I bought and wore on our honeymoon.
None of the dresses were hideous or hilarious, but I liked some better than others. There was the slinky black one meant for someone who can rock a deep-V. And there was the sage green, raw silk number meant for a girl who doesn’t sweat like a marathon runner in silk (it was August!). But, I actually liked the lavender dress I wore for my sister’s wedding. For my friend Michelle’s wedding, the most recent, I got to pick the style, and that plum-colored dress fit better than any of the others.
I didn’t love any of my bridesmaid dresses, but I do love what they represented — momentous occasions for seven people that I truly love. Those seven brides are seven of the most important people in my life: My sister, my cousin, my sister-in-law, and four wonderful friends.
After all, being a bridesmaid is an honor and wearing a dress that someone else picks out for you that you will probably never wear again is part of the experience. For my own wedding, I chose lovely light blue dresses for my eight bridesmaids. I can’t tell you what happened to those dresses, but I doubt they’ve seen any cocktail parties.
I have no plans for my dresses. If my nieces want to play with them in a few years or wear one of them for a “vintage” Halloween costume that will be just fine with me. Until then, they will remain in that closet with other sacred garments, gathering dust and triggering fond memories.
Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.