Click here to read reviewer Shannon I. Bigham's take on Always the Bridesmaid.
“Weddings were a routine she was becoming well acquainted with.” Cate Padgett has the bridesmaid routine down to a science, as she’s spent quite some time being one to various family and friends. Each wedding has some standards -- the wedding drunk, the obnoxious relative, and so on and so forth. And in each, Cate has an experience, humorous or otherwise, which makes it stand out from the rest. At the same time, each wedding makes her wonder at her own relationship with her blow-hot, blow-cold boyfriend, Peter.
Coincidentally, an old childhood friend, Ethan, also turns up at most weddings as the caterer. Even as her relationship with Peter heads towards a confrontation, Cate beings to lean more and more on her ever-supportive friend for his guidance and kindness. But Ethan seems to want more than that, and this confuses as well as scares Cate. With her feelings in turmoil, as she attends wedding after wedding, Cate ponders on the true meaning behind marriage and commitment.
Author Whitney Lyles has used weddings and the hectic preparations behind each event to try and make a humorous and yet serious book. This is somewhat effective, but as wedding after wedding takes place with monotonous regularity, it becomes tedious and repetitive and loses steam. While Cate is there for each wedding, she’s rarely an active and vocal participant; rather she’s there on sufferance. From her own relationship with her boyfriend to her dealings with others, Cate’s practice of consistent evasion rather than confrontation has the effect of making the reader impatient with her. The lessons she learns from each wedding are not that earth-shattering and after 300-plus pages, one wonders why it took her such a long time to make up her mind. Although the book begins well enough, it sadly doesn’t do much to retain the readers’ interest.