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.
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.
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.
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.
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.*
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.
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!”
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.