Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Never a bride but 13 times a bridesmaid

Pauline Toleafoa says she has kept all of her bridesmaid dresses from her 13-wedding career out of respect for the brides. Photo / Richard Robinson
Pauline Toleafoa says she has kept all of her bridesmaid dresses from her 13-wedding career out of respect for the brides. Photo / Richard Robinson

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is considered an honour - and one Auckland woman has received that honour a whopping 13 times.

Pauline Toleafoa, of Henderson, has been a bridesmaid for more than a dozen of her friends and family members. In the last three years alone she has been in 10 weddings - six of them in one year.

The 29-year-old Housing NZ worker, who is single, laughs when she talks about the feat and says her family and friends have labelled her the real-life version of the film 27 Dresses.

The movie follows the life of a young woman who has been a bridesmaid for 27 weddings.

"It's become a family joke - 'Always the bridesmaid, never the bride', they say. I always hit back and say it is a testament of my friendships with people. But yeah, I get it all the time that I have become the real-life 27 Dresses. It doesn't bother me though, I think it's quite funny."

Miss Toleafoa said it had been fun collecting the different kinds of dresses she'd had to wear over the years - from lime ensembles and floral dresses to sleek black gowns.

She had also noticed the changes in bridesmaid dress trends.

"Most dresses have been evening gowns and the last few weddings have had black dresses, which is unusual, but it's always elegant and you can't go wrong with black. My favourite was a black gown (I) and the other bridesmaids got to design.

"It's always good when you get to choose the dress you wear, because some brides can choose you some hideous dresses and you have to just smile and say yes."

Miss Toleafoa said she had never worn any of her bridesmaid dresses a second time.

She had never sold any either - out of respect for the brides - but had lent a number of them out to relatives and friends for school balls, work functions and formal parties.

Asked if she had witnessed any "Bridezilla" moments over the years, she admitted there had been a few.

"Yes. But I hope you're not going to make me name them - it might end a few friendships," she laughed.

"Sometimes by the end of the wedding you learn some things about people you never knew before.

"You get some crazy demands from brides and they turn into monsters ... but then I have had some real laid-back brides.

"But really, a perfect bridesmaid is just someone who is there for the bride, to fetch the toys when she throws them out of the cot, to stop her from buying that ugly wedding dress, the shoulder to cry on and the friend that just listens and nods."

- NZ Herald

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