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always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Said of one who is never the most important person in a particular situation or the winner of some particular thing. When will I get a promotion? I'm so sick of being always the bridesmaid, never the bride. This is the fifth time I've come in second place—always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
See also: always, bride, never
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

always the bridesmaid

If someone is always the bridesmaid, they are always the second most successful or important person in a situation and never the most successful or important. Ian McEwan, favourite for every literary prize from the Booker to the Whitbread but always the bridesmaid, finally won something for `Atonement'. Note: People sometimes use the full expression always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Her win in this race helped to destroy the idea that she is always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
See also: always, bridesmaid
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

always the bridesmaid

used to refer pityingly to someone who seems always to be allocated to a subsidiary function, and is never invited to take the lead.
The expression probably originated in the words of a 1917 song by Charles Collins , Fred W. Leigh , and Lily Morris : ‘Why am I always the bridesmaid, never the blushing bride?’.
See also: always, bridesmaid
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Under this situation, a lot of brands have been launched up, providing affordable bridesmaid dresses to the girls who will be a bridesmaid.
"So she has stepped out of being my bridesmaid and I think she still thinks she gets to do all the bridesmaid fun with me and bachelorette fun....
Yes, rise above it and handle it with grace because it's your friend's big day - not yours or the other bridesmaids'.
Southwest agreed to fly the dress from Houston to Costa Rica and collected the it from the Houston Hobby airport after the bridesmaid friend handed it over to the airlines staff.
But if you see no way to get out of the debt you'd take on to be a bridesmaid, doing everything your friend wants might not be feasible right now.
"Not many bridesmaids could pull off the brief of rugby, cocktails and '80s while not knowing whether the bride would be able to walk that day or not.
In the event that you are having an exquisite and refined wedding, it is best for the Cmdresses to settle on night outfit sort of garments, while shoreline weddings are less formal and supplement a looser fit and style, for example, bind bridesmaid dresses.
There are friendship issues along the way but Tilly's determination to be the best bridesmaid, make for a delightful tale of happy ever afters for the wedding couples.
Overland Park, KS, September 21, 2016 --( Essense Designs wins another award for its internationally-acclaimed bridesmaid dress label, Sorella Vita, at the 2016 Bridal Buyer Awards held in North Yorkshire, England.
RENT A BRIDESMAID BY JACQUELINE WILSON DOUBLEDAY, PS12.99 (EBOOK PS8.99) DON'T be fooled by the fuchsia pink cover sprinkled with glittery confetti on Jacqueline Wilson's latest book.
RENT A BRIDESMAID by Jacqueline Wilson Doubleday, PS12.99 (ebook PS8.99) HHHH H DON'T be fooled by the fuchsia pink cover sprinkled with glittery confetti on Jacqueline Wilson's latest book.
That's what a young woman in her 20s discovered when she offered her services as a professional bridesmaid. Helping brides navigate choppy wedding waters has become a lucrative business.
Ex-Inbetweeners star Emily told her followers: "SO excited & honoured to be a bridesmaid today for my wonderful friends @ MrkieronR & @carl_hyland ..
DEAR ANNIE: I think you missed the mark with "Disappointed,'' the frustrated bridesmaid. She said the bride ordered hideous dresses, and when the bridesmaids tried to get her to find another, she didn't like any of them.