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7 Maid of Honor Tips for the Nuptially-Challenged

Some women have been planning their weddings since kindergarten, clipping pictures out of magazines and bookmarking websites with inspiring images. They’ve selected and deselected their maids of honor a dozen times and have everything set to go with the groom’s name TBD.

Other women are me.

I’m not against marriage at all. I’m actually pretty psyched for my maid of honor duties and plan on some ridiculously awesome stuff happening at my own wedding someday (Two words: Batman cupcakes.). I just haven’t had the protocol coded into my DNA like some of my friends.

And since planning my own dream wedding doesn’t come naturally, you can bet that assisting my best friend as maid of honor her June wedding next summer isn’t going to be second nature. Through conversations with experienced maids of honor and extensive research with Professor Google, I have found and/or made-up seven tips for maids of honor who need a nudge.

You have an entire half hour to get this done. I'm sure it won't be a problem.

These items specifically relate how I would like the forks placed at the table settings.

1. Take initiative.

Don’t wait for the bride to tell you what to do. She is very likely halfway to Crazytown with her own workload, and you’ll need to step up. When her to-do list unravels across the floor like toilet paper, don’t say, “Sucks to be you.”

Find specific tasks on the list you can accomplish quickly and/or easily that require minimum input from the bride. For example, choosing a wedding dress is certainly going to involve the bride. Comparing prices on customized shot glasses for the wedding favors doesn’t.

2. Do not say yes to everything.


The divasaurus in her natural habitat.

By agreeing to be a maid of honor, you are pretty much signing up to be the bride’s lackey. That does not mean you’re a 19th century handmaiden. Saying yes to everything can allow a perfectly rational person to turn into an advantage-taking, latte-demanding divasaurus.

Know what you are able, willing, and prefer to do. Make your goal getting task completed rather than doing everything yourself. Brainstorm solutions for conflicts (e.g., having another bridesmaid complete a task, dividing the duties among family members) before bringing it up to the bride, so you’re not presenting a problem without potential solutions.

What a crazy random happenstance.

I have to buy food, too! No wonder we were picked for the bridal party. We’re so much alike!

3. Team up with the best man.

Divide and conquer. While the cliché has always been that the women basically plan the wedding and the men make ball-and-chain jokes, many grooms want input on their big day, too. You may be able to snag insider information on the groom’s thoughts through the best man. And if the best man is a hottie with a job and a six-pack, all the better.

Also, men are far less likely than women to ask for help and often embarrassed to turn to someone close for assistance. Your offer to help may not only give you a chance to problem-solve some prenuptial predicaments of your own, but also you make sure nothing on the groom’s side falls through the cracks.

4. Do not referee the relationship.

Penalty: Two backrub. and 30 minutes uninterrupted TV time.

Flag on the play: Illegal holding preventing the defense from accessing remote.

Chances are that if you made it to the maid of honor position, you’ve been pretty supportive of the relationship and haven’t caused any dramatic rifts between the bride and groom. Keep your Switzerland flag flying high, lady.

The same rule applies for friends as it does for significant others: support the ranting person, validate their feelings, and NEVER outright agree with anything negative that person says about their loved one. Long after the bridezilla is cooling off in the ocean, she’ll be wondering if you really think her fiancé is the worst thing to happen to her since Firefly was cancelled.*

3 months to wedding: Send in neck measurements for final turtleneck fitting.

I find wine helps, too.

5. Make a schedule with your listed duties.

Lists and schedules will be your friend when event-planning. The farther out from the wedding, the more slack you can give yourself (the save-the-dates should go out a certain number of months from the wedding, but the exact day isn’t as important). The closer to the wedding, the more on-target your plan should be (the rehearsal dinner needs an exact date).

Check some wedding websites like Offbeat Bride and The Knot for schedules and checklists. Add in anything specific to your best friend’s big day and cut out anything that doesn’t apply. There’s also a number of apps available on both Android Maid of Honor Complete Guide: $1.37 Android Market) and iOS (i-Bridesmaid: $1.99 in iTunes).

6. Be honest with AND support the bride.

Wearing ponytails on your wedding day is definitely going to detract from the yellow and green color scheme.

I think it’s important to save money, too, but I don’t think replacing bouquets with pom-poms is the way to go.

This falls in line with not saying yes to everything but deals more with emotional support than task completion. You know not to tell the bride that she looks fat. You know not to tell her that the exotic fruit theme is super weird. But you can still share concerns about fashion clashes and seating arrangements if you foresee conflicts (and if you are, in fact, knowledgeable about those sorts of things).

However, doing this in a supportive way is key. You can say that the purple and yellow theme might look best in muted tones or be more special if only used in flowers and place settings rather than décor instead of: “Holy crap, it looks like a gay bumblebee pride parade in here!”

Wait until you hear the story about when Lisa got her first period!

If this makes you pee a little, you’d better rethink your maid of honor speech.

7. Do not step outside your comfort zone with the speech.

Remember how your parents told you that you could be anything you wanted to be? Time to set aside those fairy princess dreams, darling, and embrace who you are. If you have horrific stage fright, an eight-minute speech with a dramatic interpretation of your friendship with the bride may not be the right way to approach your toast. If you’re sure you’ll puke, ask the bride if you can write her a letter explaining how much you love her but pass the speech duties onto a more eloquent bridesmaid or family member. If you think you can cowboy up but lack writing skills, you can always do an audience participation speech to put the attention on the newlyweds.

Did these tips help you out, maids-of-honor-to-be? Any pro-tips from experienced maids of honor? Did I miss anything, brides or grooms?

*Nothing is. Sigh.


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  1. Amy Swanson

    Wow! Great tips here, Jana! I was my sister’s MOH a few years ago and could have definitely used them then- haha!

    I can speak from experience about not stepping too far outside your comfort zone for the speech. There’s so many cliches out there about bad ones, but until you have to sit through one where the MOH brings up all of the bride’s ex-boyfriends and how the MOH is still single and waiting for Mr. Right or starts crying, you don’t realize how crucial this tip is! For my sister’s wedding, I had a letter saved that she wrote me when she first started hanging out with her now husband. It was so cute and I got a lot of compliments on it 🙂 So, that’d be my addition. Don’t go overboard with an 8 minute speech, something short and sweet will make a much bigger impact.

    • Jaimie Smith

      Amy, the letter about when she first started dating her husband sounds adorable!!! I may have to steal that idea!

    • Jen

      Oh man, Amy that is super cute! I agree with you too, short and sweet is the key, if the speech is too long people will get bored. Keep it personal too, don’t make it sound like you just used poetic lines out of a book. Share fun stories that involve you and the bride or funny (appropriate) stories about the bride and the groom.

      • Amy Swanson

        Thanks guys! I’ve sat through enough bad MOH speeches to know ‘what not to do’ hahaha

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, lady. Better late than never, I guess!

      That MOH speech sounds like a hilariously awesome story… to me… because I was NOT there. For everyone else? A horror show. I’m glad you emphasized the short part. After all, a wedding day is about the couple getting married, not the loneliness of the MOH. Your letter sounds like it was the perfect fit.

  2. Jaimie Smith

    This was such a great post! I will def keep this in mind when my sister gets married (if she still is making me her maid of honor). All the tips were great, and i will def look back on this blog when that day comes. Great job, Jana!

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, Jaimie. File it away and feel free to add to it in the comments if you have any tips of your own!

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    I was a bridesmaid for my cousin, and even though she played it a lot cooler than the general bridezilla, I know that she really appreciated when the other bridesmaids took initiative and helped her out.

    I don’t really have much more insight, but if I’m ever a MOH myself, I’ll be sure to come back and read this post again. 🙂

  4. Rachel

    Great post, Jana! I’m glad you addressed the speech because those are always really awkward to sit through when not done well. I think a lot of people try too hard because they want to make the bride happy and make the guests laugh, but you’re right — it’s better to stay in your comfort zone and keep it short. I also really like your idea of writing a letter to the bride and asking a more eloquent person to take the speech-giving reins; great suggestion! As long as the bride is okay with it, of course. 🙂

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks for the comments, Rachel. I’m sure something I’m going to have to monitor myself is not trying to be too much of an entertainer. I’m a storyteller first, and it’s got to be the bride and groom’s story (mostly). There’s a time to take risks, and a wedding that’s not yours is NOT it.

  5. Joseph Giorgi

    I remember being pretty nervous about giving my speech as the best man at my friend’s wedding a few years back. I knew that — since I’ve never really been good at public speaking — it would be best to keep the speech as brief and to-the-point as possible. So that’s exactly what I did. Afterwards, I had several people compliment me on how genuine my speech was. Some even said it was the best speech of the night. Just goes to show that staying within your “comfort zone” is great advice when it comes to public speaking.

    Great tips, Jana!

  6. Alex Brodsky

    I can’t wait til I’m somebody’s Maid of Honor! It’s going to be WAY more entertaining than that movie starring Dr. McDreamy!… Not that I’ve ever seen it (looks away, ashamed).

    And these tips will surely help me. They’ll also help me navigate around my friend’s fiancé as she plans their wedding this summer. I’ll make sure to slip her some inside information from the groom (i.e. He’ll be wearing his Ninja Turtles boxer shorts, so that she can match)

  7. Cybernetic SAM

    This is yet another reason guys suck and have it so easy — literally all the groom and best man have to do is get tuxes, have a party, and show up on the wedding day. The lists that I came across when I was a maid of honor were the most intimidating checklists I had ever seen! I felt like half the time I had to suit up like Rambo and get the mission done! I lucked out though, I had a really laid back bride-to-be so the pressure wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. 😉

    • Jana Quinn

      Nothing less than awesome can follow your introduction: “This is yet another reason guys suck and have it so easy.” Maybe that’ll be my next article: Rambo’s Guide to Weddings. Hmm…

  8. Eric

    As accustomed as we are with the idea of a “Bridezilla,” you might be surprised to find that there’s an equivalent attitude and personality type when it comes to grooms. I think it can be said the aforementioned could apply equally to the groom/best man, too. Funny you mention it: I’m a professional in the theatre business, and you wouldn’t think it, but despite the ability to perform in from of complete strangers, I have friends that would be terrified to make a reception speech. Solid advice, Jana!

  9. Jeff Porretto

    I’d like to know which rules are made up and which are from professor google, because they’re all pretty damn good! I have nothing of interest to note other than a maid of honor horror story. My distant cousin got married and for the toast, her m.o.h. said, “I don’t know what to say, I just f***ing love you!”

    I would say definitely don’t do that. Yeah.

    P.S. Sorry about firefly =[

  10. kris

    As I am about to go through he precess and document my experience this was a great find! As the maid of honor I have to write a speech and and been nervously researching everything I have to do!

  11. LaTrice

    I’m going to be the Maid of Honor for my best friend’s wedding in April! Although it’s my first time being the Maid of Honor, I’m going to admit that it’s kind of a nerve racking experience-since I’ve NEVER had this role in my life! So far, my best friend is keeping me posted with the wedding locations, bridesmaid’s dresses, and of course the food. Hopefully, I won’t mess up on her BIG day!! 🙂

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