Am I a terrible MoH?
January 17, 2012 10:44 AM   Subscribe

More Maid of Honor woes. How am I going to do this? What are normal expectations for a MoH?

So, I've already posted this and got some great advice. I'm going to throw my sister a "Naughty or Nice" themed bridal shower. Yes I know traditionally that immediate family is not supposed to throw it, but the other bridesmaids haven't offered nor have my crazy aunts (more on that here). I am actually having fun with it, making cutesy decorations and planing the games. Anyway, my sister gave me the list of people she wants invited to the shower. Its 60. I was expecting 25. No worries, I've contained my shock, made a few adjustments to my original plans, asked for help from the other maids, and I think it'll work out.
Now I'm moving on to bachelorette party plans. My sister wants to do wine tasting followed by a night of dancing and staying at a hotel. This will be a few hours from where we live. I've started researching wine tasting tours, but I'm not a clubbing type so I'm kinda struggling with that plan.
Today I asked my sister for the list of "bachelorettes" to invite. Its 27 ladies long. I nearly had a panic attack. I don't have any experience with this kinda this par for the course these days? I thought bachelorette parties were for 5-10 of the brides best friends. Just the correspondence alone is making my head spin, forget about trying to coordinate all those ladies in a 2 hour carpool/wine tasting rooms/dance clubs/hotel rooms.
Anyway, my question is, can I decline my duties here? The shower is already all planned, so can I hand off the bachelorette party to another bridesmaid? The others are younger and more mainstream anyway, and probably better suited for the job. Plus, I'm feeling resentment for my sister building up, and I don't want to get drunk at her wedding and deliver a mean-hearted speech for all the stress she's putting me through!
posted by hellameangirl to Human Relations (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think step one is to go to your sister and talk about your concerns. Say you don't have the ability to coordinate an event that big, and ask her how she would like to compromise -- the event needs to be smaller in terms of people or smaller in terms of scope in order for it to be possible. Also point out that the per-person expense for that is going to be huge, and it's really not cool to "invite" your friends to an event where they are required to pay hundreds of dollars (hotel + wine tasting + dance club/drinks + transportation, and that's in addition to the shower gifts I'm sure all those people were "invited" to give her, and the wedding gifts, not to mention the dresses and whatnot). It's OK to say no. It's OK to be the person who says that this is a really rude thing to ask of her friends, and not even just her close friends (luckily, probably 27 people won't come if it's going to be that expensive).
posted by brainmouse at 10:50 AM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

In my experience (mostly in NYC, where cost and space would be of concern), bachelorette parties are 8-12 people. Even at that size it can be a bit of a logistical nightmare.

+1 on coordingating with your sister. You need to talk to her- have either of you been to many weddings? she may just not be that aware of the challenges you're facing and what expectations are. You're going to run into budget issues- not everyone of the 27 girls will be able to afford a wine tasting, dancing etc. She needs to prioritize who she wants there and what activities she really wants. On the upside, getting 27 girls into a club for a night of dancing would be way easier than arranging a wine tour/hotel etc. (clubs like a surplus of girls, and you might be able to arrange a discount on bottle service or something along those lines)

And yes, this is what the other bridesmaids are for. Brainstorm with them! delegate! no one expects you to do EVERYTHING.
posted by larthegreat at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2012

I had a similar experience when I was asked to be MoH in 2010. I ended up asking to step down from being in the wedding at all because I couldn't handle the financial and time strain of a similar bride. I had no idea that I would expected to spend thousands on gifts and parties (since she didn't expect to pay for anything), and it ended up leading to our friendship ending altogether. However, I wasn't dealing with a family member, so I'd use caution before you snap like I did.

I think the first step is to tell your sister that you are in over your head for the bachelorette party and is there someone else who could take of this? I know that I was just getting more and more resentful until I explained that what I was being expected to do was well out of the scope of my comfort zone. If there's any way you can do this, I'd highly recommend it.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since the bride is your sister, yes, definitely sit down and talk this through. I think it's nutz that these events are so huge, and it's putting way, way too much work on you.

Maybe I'm biased: my shower was a tea party for about about 12 people and my bachelorette "party" was 4 girls and I going out for a nice dinner. To me that sounds about perfect, so I'm stupefied about your sister's plans.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

What you do is laugh in her face and tell her "good luck!" Oh, sorry, you are probably a very nice sister.

In that case, delegate. Send a note to the bridesmaids along with the guest list and ask for someone to pick up this ball and run with it. Do not participate further in any of the planning of it. Direct them to your sister who is presumably their friend (though maybe not by the end of this shenanigans). If it doesn't happen or doesn't work out the way she likes, take no public or private or personal responsibility for it.

I don't know how old your sister is, I'll assume she is very young and very immature and also has a huge line of credit that she manages terribly. But having everyone in your known universe splash all out for your special day is an extreme privilege and not a right. You can make super special requests like hotel/wine tasting/personal gifts when it's a small intimate group of five and you're paying for most of it. Or you could go super extravaganza but low budget and low expectations (the everyone at a big club - you spring for a few bottles of bubbly to go around) but you cannot have both unless you are a Kardashian.

Delegate. And let your sister know that if she is looking for that very special, personal maid-of-honor thank you gift that she can find it at your favorite spa is and this is exactly how much their massage and pampering package costs. I know she'll want this information so she can get it just right.
posted by amanda at 11:05 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Woah! A bachelorette party of 27? That is, like, the largest bachelorette party ever. Seriously.

I have my first bachelorette party experience coming up (woot!) and it's going to be ten-ish close friends of the bride. I wouldn't invite 27 people to my birthday party.

Aside from the burden on you - which sounds well beyond the typical maid of honor duties at this point, and it's only going to get worse - having a smaller bachelorette party makes sense because it would truly only be close friends of the bride who don't mind shelling out a little to celebrate with a good friend. A bachelorette party should be intimate. Nearly thirty people is not intimate.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2012

Thanks everyone. I just emailed her and said either the list has to be smaller or I'm going to ask another maid to plan it. She wrote back and said well, 2 on the list are pregnant and probably won't go (so why invite them? I'm wondering) and also said I didn't give her a limit. So should I give her a limit then? If so, whats reasonable? Half it to 13?
..and amanda, she is not young but is very naive and yes, in debt :P
posted by hellameangirl at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2012

Give her a limit of 10. It is far easier to coordinate things for less than 10 people (only 2 cars to carpool! Dinner reservations are managable!)

Ask her which part of the general plan is the most crucial- nice hotel to stay in, going dancing, a good dinner, and you handle that. Outsource the rest of the work to the other bridesmaids and let them take charge.

(BTW, make sure the bridesmaid you oursource too are on her list of invitees!)
posted by larthegreat at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would figure out what sort of transportation you're going to use -- obviously you guys can't drive (you talk about a "carpool", but unless people are not going to be participating in the wine tasting or drinking at the dancing -- and wouldn't regardless of driving so you're not saying "come to this party and then don't participate so that you can take the rest of us to the fun stuff!", that's totally not OK), and then figure out how many people fit in that form of transportation. Regular-sized limos hold 8-10, so that's a good starting point.
posted by brainmouse at 11:24 AM on January 17, 2012

Brainmouse, the carpool would just be to take us to LA to Santa Barbara (Amtrak is an option too). For wine tasting I'm looking into a party trolley that picks us up and drop us off to town center. Dinner, dancing and hotel should all be walking distance from each other. thats my abstract plan anyway. A new thing I'm worried about though, is because the cost of everything, what if no one wants to come? Maybe 27 will drop to 5 anyway :p
posted by hellameangirl at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2012

I thought (from your shower post) that there weren't any other bridesmaids. No? If there are other bridesmaids, then I would definitely delegate. You can send out an email to all of them and let them know what she wants to do. Specify a bunch of responsibilities, and ask the other girls to take ownership of specific tasks. If you're in over your head on this bachelorette party, then admit that and have one of the "tasks" be "be in charge of the bachelorette party." (You can also do this with other wedding tasks - you are already the lead on the shower, so I'd indicate that in my email if I were you.)

Also I was MOH for my sister, and vice versa. We each helped the MOH with a lot of the planning and logistics behind the scenes, but the MOH was the one communicating with the invitees. It's so much easier to plan something like this with the bride actively participating and guiding behind the scenes. I think - if you can't delegate this - you need to actively involve your sister in the planning.

Total anecdata: Agreed - 27 is a big bachelorette party. I bet few of them will actually accept, especially if it is expensive and a big commitment. My sister invited about that many to a weekend in Miami. It was a very expensive trip. When I sent out the initial coordinating email, I clearly spelled out the projected expenses (not including expensive things like meals every day/night, drinks out, club fees, etc.) I was also not terribly flexible with all their schedules. Instead, I sent out a few weekend options well in advance, and picked the one where the most people could come. A few bailed at the 11th hour. Ultimately, 6 came, 4 were local. My sister paid for one who couldn't swing the expense. On the other hand, I also "invited" about that many women to my bachelorette party (wine tasting day, followed by dinner out), but mine ended up being pretty cheap (the wine tasting was ridiculous and NOT fancy and cost $35 per girl, and dinner wasn't expensive either). A bunch of girls came from out of town, but they all stayed with me. I'd say 15 ended up coming to the bachelorette party, and I paid for one of them because she couldn't swing the expense. (It was one of the best days of my life.) I'd say planning was a bit of a drag for each of us, but we both considered it MOH duties. I heavily delegated duties at the shower and the bachelorette party. My sister did everything herself. YMMV.
posted by semacd at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2012

Oh, yes more bridemaids were added since the shower post. It went from 3 to 8 actually :P And yes they are all on the invite list. Only 2 of them have offered to help so far.
posted by hellameangirl at 11:36 AM on January 17, 2012

I wouldn't give her a limit, but that's just me. If you invite ten and three can make it, won't that be a little lame compared to what she's hoping for? Then what do you do, go to your "B" list? She's not the queen of the world - bridezillaness needs to be kept in check - but hopefully this will be a special day for her and I don't think it's unreasonable to invite 27 people. Like I said, I had about 15 ladies (maybe 20? - they didn't all come to both parts) and it was one of the absolute best days of my life. The reason was because my nearest and dearest girlfriends were - for once in my life (except later at the wedding) in the same place, happily day drinking and being completely silly, and celebrating with me as only a group of girlfriends can do. Friends who had known about each other for years but never met, got to know each other a little bit. It was awesome.

I invited people I knew would never come because I wanted them to feel included. (This has happened to me several times and I have been happy to feel included.) I say rope her (or other bridesmaids) heavily into the planning & logistics (though you - or another BM - are the public 'host') and you can pull this off without too much heartburn.

Of course, if you really think you will resent her, then you probably need to put the breaks on this. But then she may very well resent you.... I think my sister and I both annoyed each other at times, but we tried to make these events special for each other, and we generally succeeded. Now it's behind us and we don't care about the annoyances, we just remember the good times.
posted by semacd at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eight! That is great for you. In that case, I would make a list of all the wedding tasks left (bachelorette, rehearsal dinner (?), wedding) and send out a list, and ask everyone to sign up for an equitable number (i.e. there are 16 tasks? everyone needs to sign up for 2). You can do this very nicely. I included a lot of "so excited to see/meet you all at the bachelorette!" comments to these emails. As a bridesmaid, I have been grateful to be specifically tasked with some responsibility. And it's fun to feel like you are all part of a team, helping your friend/sister have a wonderful bachelorette/wedding - having specific duties helps that. So, for example, one of the bridesmaids in my sister's wedding was in charge of silly bachelorette gear for my sister to wear. She rocked that job. Another was assigned in charge of decorating the shower local. Also rocked it. In both cases, I didn't have to worry about those tasks at all.
posted by semacd at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2012

I would recommend signing up for Groupon or Living Social for the Santa Barbara area - they are constantly having wine tastings, etc. on there and it might really help keep your costs down (at least for that shindig).
posted by blackkar at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are not being a terrible maid of honor, but I think your approach here could use some work. I'd suggest you think a bit about the other bridesmaids--what are their personalities and strengths?--talk the situation over with them, and then call your sister.

Figure out with the other bridesmaids: is there an affordable way to make your sister's dream bachelorette evening happen? does one of the other bridesmaids have experience planning large-ish events, and would she be willing to take over the logistics here?

After you've gotten all the bridesmaids on the same page, call your sister. Don't use email to have the conversation, and don't say things like "either the list has to be smaller or I'm going to ask another maid to plan it"--that sounds like a threat! You need to be clear with your sister. The thing to avoid is a situation where you feel like you can't say no, so you agree to something but then you start constantly trying to figure out what little things you can cut out or avoid because ultimately you don't want to do any of it, and then you end up resenting your sister for wanting the party she wants, and she ends up resenting you for agreeing to one kind of party and then trying to pare it down.

I think you're so concerned with getting this right that you're overlooking the easy parts: it's ok to say, "I'm sorry, I can't plan such a big party. I'll handle the dinner reservations and invitations, but I'm going to hand off the logistics to [Bridesmaid #2] because she's so good at this kind of thing." Is your sister really going to have a conniption knowing that her carpool was planned by another bridesmaid and not by you? Moreover, you might do the research and end up needing to say, "The other bridesmaids and I priced the wine-tasting/hotel/clubbing night at $X per person, and that's just not going to be possible. Would you like to do something in town with a big group, and then do a smaller trip to [Big City] with just you, me, and the other bridesmaids?"
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:57 AM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

I don't know where you're at, but in NYC it seems like if you want 10 people to be there, you need to invite at least 25. Everyone's busy, and not everyone has the stamina or goodwill to attend ALL the events leading up to the wedding, and then the event itself.
posted by hermitosis at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

You have a good point hermitosis, and after calling my sister, I realize she was thinking of this too. So I do feel bad for freaking out :p I would feel safer though, inviting the most important 10 people first (basically all the maids + bride + 1 more friend), and if any of them can't come then asking ladies from the 'B' list so to speak (basically cousins). No one has to know, right? I'm just overwhelmed by large parties I guess. If it were my party I seriously would just want a local night at a karaoke bar.
As far as delegating tasks to other maids, I'm making a list tonight.
posted by hellameangirl at 2:39 PM on January 17, 2012

For the hotel, you figure out the date and how many rooms you'll need, then pick a hotel and call them to put a block on the rooms. They'll hold them under whatever name you give them [but won't ask for your credit card] for some period of time. Typically this block expires a month before the event. Then you tell your attendees "Rooms are blocked at the Hotel Wonderland under the name 'hellameanbride bachelorette'. Rooms cost $987. The block expires on March 15th. After that you're on your own.". They call and make their own reservations. On March 15th , any rooms not booked are released to the public. You're not responsible for them. The hardest part in that detail will be picking the hotel. I've done this for hockey tournaments a few times, and its never been a hassle.

Your involvement is actually pretty minimal on that front.
posted by chazlarson at 7:30 PM on January 17, 2012

I went to a 16-person bachelorette that was in Vegas (where none of us lived) and it was scheduled and organized insanely well because the MOH was a control freak without a job. We had reservations for everything, limos booked, she had even hired a freaking VIP club coordinator to bribe the doorman and all get us into the latest hot place. I cannot imagine putting on an event of that scope if I had anything else going on.

However, we were all given all the dates up front and had to pay the MOH up front, so when we got there it was pretty much all set in motion. For what your sister wants, you'd need to book the wine tasting, book transportation there, make dinner reservations, pick a club, and make hotel reservations, and collect all the money from everyone before hand. That is still a lot of work so perhaps you could delegate these different tasks to the maids.
posted by alicetiara at 8:30 PM on January 19, 2012

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