Bridesmaids Anonymous

A Support Group for Disgruntled Members of the Wedding Party

By Buck Wolf

March 5, 2002 --   It's meeting time at BA — Bridesmaids Anonymous — and each member tells her own sad story.

"Hello, I'm Ronit. I'm 28. I've been a bridesmaid for six years now. … My last serious boyfriend turned out to be gay. … My 90-year-old grandmother recently asked me, 'When are you going to get married so your life can begin?'"

Some women treat husband-hunting as a full-time job. Ronit Ray only wishes it was. After years of frustration playing the New York singles game, she turned her pathetic dating life into a cabaret show, and then into an ad- hoc support group for perpetual bridesmaids.

Now, it's too late for Ray to marry. Her one-woman show, Altar Ego, is ending a successful run at New York's Don't Tell Mama nightclub but will return in the spring. So finding a soul mate might ruin her act.

"Maybe," she says. "But I'll take my chances." A Singing Zombie With Big Dreams

As a 10-year-old girl in Cherry Hill, N.J., she dreamed of starring in Annie on Broadway, and even got a callback when she auditioned. Now, she keeps the faith with parts in off-Broadway productions like Zombie Prom and works a day job at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co.

Still, this zombie dreams of love, and Bridesmaids Anonymous is an idea for the times.

At BA meetings, women put on their most horrible, overpriced bridesmaid getups. It might be a $400 sequined periwinkle gown with creampuff sleeves. It could be a frightful frock in incandescent lavender.

How could your best friend saddle you with this overpriced nightmare on her wedding day? It's more proof that love is blind.

"It's hard not to laugh, and of course, that makes you feel better," Ray says. "So often, you hear women swear that they'll never wear their bridesmaid dress again. Well, this gives you an opportunity to wear it and enjoy it."

Add up the cost of the gown, shoes, alterations, the bachelorette party and let's not forget the present. BA members say the cost of being in a bridal party is easily $700. And for BA ladies, that's not a one-time cost.