So, here's the thing. The phrase "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" annoys the crippety crap out of me. I understand what it is meant to entail, but if you really think about it, it's annoying. The intention behind the phrase is that as a bridesmaid you are standing by your friend who is getting married, rather than getting married yourself. Totally putting to the side the gender politics, in practice it is often used to reference folks who get second (or third or fourth) place. And that's what bugs me. Because being a bride - while lovely and wonderful - is not winning (not even like that guy means). It certainly demonstrates an important life event, don't get me wrong, but unless you were a contestant on a reality dating show one imagines you did not get to the [altar or courthouse or other place of reverence for you and your intended] by passing a number of tests or completing specific feats of skills. (Unless you and your beloved are into that.)
And, being a bridesmaid is not a consolation prize. It's not like being second runner up (unless, again, you were in the aforementioned dating show, in which case it might be). If the bride is unable to fulfill her duties you do not get to just swoop in. You might be already married or even related by blood to the groom. I realize I am way overthinking this phrase, but seriously, can't we come up with something better? Always a silver medalist, for example, is just as easy to say.