I want to be friends with my maid of honour after the wedding is done!
July 23, 2012 11:34 AM   Subscribe

What should I do make sure my best friend has the very best experience as my Maid of Honour as possible?

I'm getting married next year. My best friend (who is also my cousin) is my maid of honour, and it was never even a question. I'm not having bridesmaids, just her as my maid of honour because she is the closest person to me (apart from my husband-to-be) and she is the only person I want up there with me. She is super excited for me, loves my partner, and is very excited to be involved.

However, her experiences with weddings aren't very positive. This past weekend she was maid-of-honour for a friend of hers, and this past year has been hell for her. The bride was a bit of a terror and totally took her for granted and was demanding to a crazy degree. She basically used her as slave labour and stopped being a friend to her. BUT, as I said, the ceremony was this past weekend so she is done with that (thank god), but I can't help but feel she must be pretty turned off of the whole maid of honour thing after everything that went down. She is unsure if she wants to continue to be friends with the bride. I've had a shitty maid of honour/bridesmaid experience myself and I know how crap it can be. I friendship divorced the bride that I was in the bridal party of afterwards...

I basically want to make sure that her experience as my maid of honour is a great one and I want to do everything I can to make sure that our friendship doesn't suffer.

Things I'm already doing:
- giving her a break from wedding stuff by not talking about mine until the sting and irritation from this past one wears off. I'm basically not going to mention mine until she brings it up.
- trying to keep it as inexpensive for her as possible. I had to spend over a thousand dollars over the course of a year when I was in a bridal party, and I am NOT doing that to my best friend. So I'm doing what I can to keep it reasonable and budget friendly. For example, my mother is making my wedding dress, and my mom has offered to make hers as well!
- I'm not telling her what her dress has to look like, and instead I'm letting her choose any style of dress she wants and that she thinks she'd feel comfortable and pretty in.
- Making sure that I don't make the next year all about me. I am making sure that when we talk I ask about things that are going on in her life, that I keep up on her life, and that I continue to be a friend to her and spend non-wedding related, no-wedding-talk time with her.
- Never ordering her around or telling I need her to do something without asking if she'd mind or has the time. Luckily, we're keeping the wedding fairly small and simple so there won't be dozens of centerpieces to make or fussy party favours to put together. There will be some things that need to be done, though, and I'll let her know when I get around to each one and ask if she wants to be involved. She and I have a relationship where I know she would say no if she didn't want to.

So what else should I do/not do in order to make sure that my best person in the whole world (apart from my husband to be) enjoys being involved in my wedding and that our friendship doesn't suffer?

Also, she is currently single, and I don't want to throw that in her face. I was single when I was in a bridal party and I found the whole thing extra frustrating because it was a very huge reminder that I was single. How do I keep from doing that to her?
posted by gwenlister to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you're doing good by her. But I think actually talking to her about this with her would be even better. It will help ease any fears she has because she will see that you care about her and are thinking of her.
posted by inturnaround at 11:44 AM on July 23, 2012 [11 favorites]

It sounds like you're already being very considerate. I might suggest that instead of letting her know "when you get around to each thing" and asking her if she wants to be involved, that you talk with her fairly early about a "master plan" and giving her a good sense of what she should be involved in right up front. It's fine to ask her for input about what she does or doesn't want to be involved in--just make sure she knows what her role, and time commitment, is from the start, rather than springing anything surprising later on. (It's also fine to wait until the sting of the previous wedding has worn off--since you're not getting married until next year you've got some leeway.)

Also, I suspect that she knows you well enough to know your tastes and what you want out of the wedding and related experiences, but if you don't think she does, go ahead and tell her. For instance, if she's going to be in charge of your bachelorette party, make sure she knows whether you'd be happier with martinis and apps at a classy restaurant with a few close friends, a rockin' house party with a lot of guests and a stripper, or whatever might fall in between that. Don't tell her whatever she wants is fine--it'll stress her out more trying to translate that into what she thinks you might like. I can tell from what you wrote and what you already are doing that you'll be able to make your wishes clear without being a bridezilla.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Write this down now, perhaps in a beautiful card. Give it to her and tell her that these are your intentions, and that you hope that if, in the chaos of planning, you stray from these intentions, that she can a) cut you some slack, and b) gently remind you of these intentions. Ask her if there is anything specific you can choose to include (or not) in the planning to make it special/meaningful/not-unpleasant for her.
posted by judith at 11:59 AM on July 23, 2012

Hrmm, if she's adverse to saying a speech, perhaps you can assuage her of any fear by letting her know she doesn't need to give one if she doesn't want to. I know a maid of honour speech isn't as expected as a best man's speech, but she may be worried about it.

As for her being single, as long as you don't do a lot of couply things, and don't try to arrange any match-ups, she'll probably be okay. A year is a long way off, maybe she'll meet someone before that.

It sounds like you're going to keep her needs in mind throughout the experience. I think the Bridezilla thing comes up for some women, but it doesn't sound like it will for you. I think if you look at your wedding as a live thing, and not something that has to go exactly as planned, you'll be able to roll with anything that comes up on the big day, and not take it out on your maid of honour if it doesn't.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:00 PM on July 23, 2012

I agree that you're doing a great job already!

I would also agree that talking about this with her is a good idea - she may not want to be totally handled with kid gloves altogether, either, and there are ways that she can help you that celebrate your unique connection. I was my best friend's MOH as well, and with us, the "unofficial" support was more important than any of the traditional Maid of Honor duties -- she trusted me enough to call and have the meltdown over "WHY AM I FIGHTING WITH MY MOTHER OVER THE STAMPS ON THE INVITATIONS," I was the only one who knew that her pre-wedding jitters were actually stage fright and that the best cure was getting her to sing "Chantilly Lace" with me and bust on other people's dresses.

She will appreciate you not wanting to be a bridezilla, but talking about "so how much and what do you want to do" may not be a bad idea either. You know how to negotiate stuff in your own unique way already.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2012

Talk to her about it. She's more of an expert than you are on what's good/not good for the Maid of Honor. I think it's always nice to be respectful of your friends. Some brides seem to think that they have conferred a bit of magic onto their friends and family, fairy-wand style, when they have designated people to be "maids of honor" or attendants. The "duties" of maid of honor can range from being a witness at the wedding who legally signs as such to powdering your naked ass. Look at the type of friendship/relationship you have with this person and respect that.

My maid of honor was my best friend from high school. We didn't live near each other. So, she picked out her own dress (I asked for navy or cream or something else if she found one better) and she showed up 3 days early so we could hang out and talk and meet everyone and do prep stuff together. We both did our hair and nails together and stayed up late drinking wine. Before the wedding she looked me over and said, "Pretty!" She also sweetly followed me into the bathroom and was my savior when I realized that wedding dress + bathroom stall was a logistical nightmare. And she took it upon herself to head my mother off at the pass when she was getting a bit frazzled. She acted like my friend.

I hope the experience was positive for her. I didn't have a super complex wedding and I didn't think it was fair to load any 1 person down with a lot of expectations. Just have fun, it's a wedding!
posted by amanda at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2012

I understand the impulse behind what you're doing, and obviously you know your friend while I don't. However, what you're describing is really open-ended, and if I were a maid of honor I'd be pretty uncomfortable with it because I'd want a clear sense of how you want your wedding planning to go. If I were the MOH and you weren't saying anything but instead waiting for me to bring up the wedding, I'd be very confused and would probably feel a lot of pressure to guess what you wanted. I'd much rather have some rough guidelines--such as you saying, "I know you're totally wedding'ed out right now, let's check in about my wedding in a couple months," and picking a color for the dress.

I'd also like to know which of my skills you value and want me to put to use in wedding planning--if you think I have a knack for crafty stuff and you want DIY centerpieces, tell me! if I'm really good at organizing events, compliment that skill and ask me to put together a plan for the day. Etc. I probably wouldn't volunteer to make a bunch of, say, origami flowers, because I wouldn't want to impose my personal style on your day, but if you asked me, I'd be happy to.

Basically: don't make her guess what you want.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:05 PM on July 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think you already are doing great things to make this experience a good one. My sister was my maid of honor and I was afraid I was going to be bridezilla and make her hate me. I only asked her to do things WITH me that she would like doing. She volunteered doing some of the running around for things rather than me asking her to do it. I paid for her dress and shoes and I let her get anything she wanted. I purchased a gift for her that I thought she would love no expense spared. I only had a maid of honor and no bridesmaids so why not spend the money? I feel like asking someone to be in your wedding party is forcing them to spend money that they may not want to spend so I paid for the stuff that I didn't think she would normally buy.

One really important thing to remember is have fun. Not only at the wedding, but try to have fun every step of the way.
posted by Yellow at 12:05 PM on July 23, 2012

You are the best bride-friend ever, seriously. It sounds like you're already doing the right things! Just a couple of things I'd add:

-Like everyone else has said, tell her everything you've just told us! Maybe refrain from saying anything negative about the other brides she's had to deal with--after all, they're her friends or family, even if things are strained right now--and just let her know that you want this to be a fun and positive experience for her since she is awesome and your friend, and ask her how you can do that.

-I understand why you want to wait for her to bring up the wedding in light of her recent bad experience, but since it's your wedding she might not bring it up until YOU do, then you'll both be waiting around and wondering. So instead I'd say let just a little time pass since the last wedding and then tell her that you want to talk to her about wedding stuff but understand if she needs a bit of a break from thinking about weddings, so she should let you know when she's ready.

-As soon as she is ready, sit with her and discuss the master plan so she knows what to expect. Let her know specifically what you'd like her help with, and also your preferences, especially with regard to the traditional trappings of weddings. Even if she's your best friend and knows you well, sometimes people get intimidated by the pressure of tradition and do stuff like planning a huge raunchy bachelorette party or an elaborate sendoff prank for a friend they'd otherwise know would actually hate it,
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2012

Never thought about how it might be worse for her to not know what I am thinking and know what her options are for things I could use help with. In a month or two I'll maybe bring it up and see what she thinks.

also, good call on simply asking her what she would like me to do to help her to enjoy the experience. That conversation will be happening!
posted by gwenlister at 12:30 PM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Let her know specifically what you'd like her help with, and also your preferences, especially with regard to the traditional trappings of weddings. Even if she's your best friend and knows you well, sometimes people get intimidated by the pressure of tradition and do stuff like planning a huge raunchy bachelorette party or an elaborate sendoff prank for a friend they'd otherwise know would actually hate it.

Seconding this. About a month before my BFF's wedding, right when I was wondering whether we bridesmaids should, like, do a shower or something, she let us all know that "oh, by the way, please don't do a bridal shower, I've got enough shit as it is. I'm considering a bridal tag sale instead. And no bachelorette party either because that's stupid." And me and the other bridesmaids all secretly thought "OH thank God," and instead splurged on a couple bottles of Kahlua for us to get totally sloshed on the night before the wedding. Which was much, much more our style anyway; we just were getting hung up on what we were "supposed" to do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you're doing really great already. The only thing I'd add is make sure she knows how much you appreciate the work that goes into planning parties, showers, etc. (Though it sounds like you will do that anyway.) And n'thing talk to her about your plans and expectations beforehand. And don't be offended if she sees any of the very nice things you're doing in a slightly different way. For example it's very sweet that your mom has offered to make her dress, but if it were me I'd rather not have someone I know well measuring my fat ass and having to deal with my hard-to-fit self. Or maybe she'd prefer to plan everything out in her calendar rather than be asked if she's able to do things when they come up. Obviously you know her, so maybe none of that would be an issue. But that's all I'd say to watch out for, just in case.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:31 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're going to have a shower and/or hen party, do whatever you can to help with hosting (arrangements and cost) behind the scenes. With my sister's wedding, although I was MOH, my family arranged and hosted the parties so that bridesmaids were not stuck with a hosting bill (food, party favors, invites, etc) for the shower and hen party. The bridesmaids helped with the fun stuff (decorating, planning, games), but weren't on the hook for the cost of food, venue, etc. I've heard of bridesmaids being hit with bills of several hundred dollars each for hosting a shower. That added to the cost of dresses, shoes, etc, is too much.

Also make it clear that her help and involvement is the only gift you want from her.

Your list already shows a lot of sensitivity and you sound like you're being very thoughtful. I think you both will have a lot of fun and she'll forget her past bad experiences.
posted by quince at 1:06 PM on July 23, 2012

Nth - sounds like your intentions for you and her (especially now that you are planning to talk to her about what is and is not a priority for you) are good. The only thing to add is that there is a lot of stuff that the wedding party, and specifically the MoH, is supposed to do - you might want to get a couple other friends involved as helpers or hire someone to help out for a specific time (thus giving your BBF/cousin/MoH a break): hey can you, different friend who is really organized, be the point person to make sure that everything is set up or cleaned up or whatever you need help with.
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 3:20 PM on July 23, 2012

I definitely agree with mutt cyberspace that designating some other friends to help on the big day will help make sure everyone has a good time and your MoH isn't overwhelmed.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 3:48 PM on July 23, 2012

Try to set her up with someone before hand!:) The main negative feelings from wedding is usually from being single and tired of being an attendant rather than the bride. Or not even that, just the sort of feelings the whole 'watching other people being in love and being celebrated' while you are on your own can dredge up.

Otherwise, what can you really do other than what you are already doing? Maybe lead her towards a dress if she's not that inspired to look for herself...the open-endedness like someone before said can be a negative if she is not self-motivated in that direction. Otherwise it sounds like you are being very considerate and I'm sure your wedding will be wonderful.
posted by bquarters at 4:30 PM on July 23, 2012

Re. the dress, she is actually extremely pumped that my mom/her aunt is going to make our dresses. Fair point that some things I am trying to put in place may not be things she'd necessarily appreciate, but having my mother make her dress is absolutely appreciated and something she is really looking forward to.

And I am NOT going to try to set her up beforehand! LOL That would feel way too much like a "I pity you because I am getting married and you are single, here is a man I think could fill that role for you.". She is awesome and wonderful and def. doesn't deserve pity, and I really don't want to make her feel any more aware of her being single.
posted by gwenlister at 5:24 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmmm. It would never occur to me to ask a member of the bridal party to do any of the work. I'd consider this to be my wedding, and I'd do it all. Apparently others feel very differently, and I'm out of step culturally. But perhaps you want to ponder this idea: invite her to be in the wedding, not to plan it, work on it, plan auxiliary parties, etc.
posted by Capri at 6:25 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came here also to say to give her some direction. I drove my MOH crazy because I didn't have a strong feeling about all the wedding details -- colors, dress styles, etc. She actually told me that she wanted me to be more of a bridezilla. So don't be afraid to tell her what you want. She probably will appreciate it because you will make her job easier. And have fun!
posted by whatideserve at 7:24 PM on July 23, 2012

I had lots of fun being the Maid of Honor...as the geographically closest member of the bridal party, I got to help both the Bride and Groom sample cakes, scout locations, plan the pretty bouquets.
I did try to be there for both of them, but especially for things that the Groom wasn't excited to do. You know, girly things!

the couple tried out menus, the three of us tried cake samples, and only the bride and I went to visit the first round of florists and figure out linens and chairs. So, maybe keep that in mind when you are scheduling your to-do list...

Two other things that made the day special for ME--I was singled out for a public thank-you at the reception AND the bride and groom paid for me to have a Spa Day on the day after the wedding.
posted by calgirl at 8:27 PM on July 23, 2012

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