How to choose the right maid of honor with some conflicting factors...
November 1, 2021 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I was planning to ask my best friend from elementary school to be my maid of honor. I feel the closest to her, but her bandwidth has been fairly limited by a toddler and work. My best friend from college is also awesome, much less busy, and has already offered help, but I feel a bit weird putting her "above" my elementary school friend in the bridesmaid ordering, and I don't want to insult my elementary school friend (but I also don't want to overwhelm her with obligation)... What would you do in this situation?

On the other hand, if my college friend does lots more work, she might feel a bit put out not being the maid of honor? All other things being equal, they are both wonderful friends and excellent planners, and I think they both might expect to be in the bridal party on some level. I think I'm lost in the symbolism vs. logistics here.

I think I may invite one to two other bridesmaids, but these are the only contenders for maid of honor. Wondering if I should do away with the one elevated position and just have bridesmaids? Have two maids/matrons of honor? Should I just ask my best friend from elementary school outright if she's up for being matron of honor first (and I would be extremely honored to have her but totally understand if not) and if not, pass it to my college friend? What's the most thoughtful, gracious, and effective way to handle this?
posted by iadacanavon to Human Relations (15 answers total)
 
Should I just ask my best friend from elementary school outright if she's up for being matron of honor first

Your friends don't owe you their labor for your wedding and they are not "paid" by honorifics. If they want to help out, that is a lovely gift. My advice is to totally separate out asking them to be your attendants (because you love and cherish them and want them close to you on the day of the wedding) and asking them to do work for your wedding.

Wondering if I should do away with the one elevated position and just have bridesmaids?

Yes.
posted by Salamandrous at 12:31 PM on November 1, 2021 [21 favorites]


Best answer: Honestly, you're in a position of power because it is your wedding and what you say goes. And this gives you tremendous freedom.

You can have them be Co-Maids-Of-Honor and they split the duties. You can have them split the duties but call one the "Maid of Honor" and the other the "Maid Of [insert similar thing here]". You can make up titles for all your other bridesmaids (i.e., you have a Maid of Honor, a Maid Of Kindness, a Maid Of Strength, a Maid Of Good Humor....whatever).

Multiple Maids Of Honor is a little more common these days as well, and if that's what you want to do, then awesome.

I think, too, that a quiet word with your best friend about how you want to give her the honor on one hand but don't want to overwhelm her with duties on the other, and how you're torn, may help. She may surprise you by saying "dude, I would totally be down with doing this, don't worry about the work tying me up!" Or she may surprise you by saying "I really wouldn't be able to take on the duties, but just knowing you wanted to give this to me is enough, and I agree it should go to someone else." If she's your best friend, she will love you enough to want to help you figure out what to do and will appreciate that you were trying to be cognizant of what she could do.

(My own best friend had a different situation - she knew who she wanted as Maid of Honor, but she knew the other bridesmaids would have a hissy fit, so she just told all of us that we were all co-equal bridesmaids until 1 am the morning of the wedding when she took me aside and said "Yo, so there is one thing that is maid of honor specific that I need to pick someone for - and I pick you, because I wanted you as my Maid of Honor all along." We kept that under wraps - along with a couple other things I STILL refuse to mention - and the wedding went fine and all was well.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on November 1, 2021 [13 favorites]


Best answer: Should I just ask my best friend from elementary school outright if she's up for being matron of honor first (and I would be extremely honored to have her but totally understand if not) and if not, pass it to my college friend?

Yes, exactly this. As someone with a toddler working full time with partial childcare, if one of my closest friends asked me to be her MOH I would absolutely be honored and fulfill the role for her, because it's an important and meaningful role to me.
posted by DoubleLune at 12:37 PM on November 1, 2021 [7 favorites]


Best answer: I kind of think it's helpful to have a maid of honor in the sense that they are usually the person who organizes the bachelorette party (if you're doing one) and will give the toast at the reception (if you want them to). To me the benefit of having a designated maid of honor is that it makes it obvious to the other bridesmaids who the point person is, but if you think one of your bridesmaids will naturally take the lead (lord knows I have friends who would), it might work out ok to just have bridesmaids with no official pecking order. I like the idea of asking your mom friend if she's up for the role and feeling out her comfort levels. I definitely don't perceive this as you demanding unpaid servitude from anyone, and I doubt your friends will see it that way either.
posted by cakelite at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Should I just ask my best friend from elementary school outright if she's up for being matron of honor first (and I would be extremely honored to have her but totally understand if not) and if not, pass it to my college friend?


Another vote for this - let her tell you more. I could see myself in your friend's shoes saying no if I was overwhelmed. But I could also see myself in your friend's shoes feeling sorry for myself if being a working mom meant missing out on doing adult friend things for someone I loved.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2021 [5 favorites]


Best answer: I agree that you should ask your friend if she wants to be MoH and I would add that you should open up a discussion about expectations, because these can differ a lot between groups, and if you and your elementary school friend aren't in the same "wedding group" (you know what I mean? the friend group where you all go to each others' weddings?) you may have different ideas about the duties of a Maid of Honor/wedding party stuff in general. Are you expecting her to coordinate with the other bridesmaids on buying dresses and organize a punch-and-cake shower with 25 guests? Are you expecting her to plan a blowout destination bachelorette? Do you just want her to sign the marriage license?
posted by mskyle at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2021


Best answer: Talk to elementary school friend and lay it out on the table like you have here. She may have a lot of capacity to add MOH duties or she may be already overwhelmed with her life and could feel pressured to say yes even if she can't manage it. Talking with her openly about it while acknowledging that it's a lot to ask. You can even ask her if she wants to be co-MOH with college friend or you can decide to just have all bridesmaids with no MOH. But, assuming that elementary school friend also a married woman who is not unfamiliar with weddings, just have a heart to heart talk and find the path that makes the most sense for all of you.
posted by quince at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Great advice here! Definitely talk to both of them. I was a joint MOH for someone and it was a big success. We split the duties between us according to what we preferred to do and what was possible. I totally agree that people have different expectations about the role and you need to make sure they are both on board...but for all of us it was a very positive experience.

I loathe bachelorette parties etc... the other MOH loved it and did a great job. And I’m also not really a ‘wedding person’ and I really enjoyed having a lot of work to do on the day.

MOH is a lot to do and it would have been impossible for me on my own.
I got a lot of great advice from here actually - the best being to get hold of a reasonably dressy but enormous bag.

Enjoy! :)
posted by tardigrade at 1:31 PM on November 1, 2021


Best answer: Talk to your childhood best friend with the toddler about all this. See what she says. You don't need to have a titled maid of honor.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2021


By height.

(Slightly in jest)
posted by kschang at 4:30 PM on November 1, 2021


I would dramatically lower my expectations.
posted by parmanparman at 5:17 PM on November 1, 2021 [7 favorites]


Best answer: Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd think about keeping both as co-MOHs, so both can contribute to the wedding in their own ways. That, or I also liked EmpressCallipygos' idea about designating titles for everyone, just to even it out.
posted by dubious_dude at 6:08 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]


"I think I'm lost in the symbolism vs. logistics here."

The logistics here are, your bridesmaids should have no obligations beyond getting clothes and showing up for the rehearsal and wedding. It's nice if they want to do things like throw a shower or bachelorette, or come with you dress shopping, but they're not obligated. These are dear friends you want to honor at a party that you are throwing, not free labor drafted to make the party happen. If you need help, you need to hire help, and pay the help.

I think some of your confusion here comes from the way The Culture demands bigger and bigger and more and more elaborate weddings, and when the labor to make that happen is unaffordable, demands that brides draft their friends and family into providing that labor for free. Don't fall for it! Your bridesmaids and MoH should be among your most important guests ... not your most important employees.

I say choose your elementary school friend, or make them co-MoHs, either sounds fine. But the fact that "whichever of my bridesmaids does the most work should be my maid of honor" is making it hard for you to choose means that you're probably demanding too much of them.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:40 PM on November 1, 2021 [10 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks for the great answers! I like the idea of just chatting with my elementary school friend about the ideas and see what she feels like she has bandwidth for or if she'd prefer to bow out. Even just giving a toast can be a hassle. I love the idea of having various maids of different types.

For context, because it seems like it might not have been clear to a few: I haven't demanded and I don't expect any free labor of anyone :) My college friend offered me help completely unprompted (she said "I love planning!"), and if I take her up on it, I feel like that's quite the gift she is giving of herself. My rumination is also about me wanting to meaningfully acknowledge her for any contributions she takes upon herself, while honoring my oldest friend too, who I know will do her best to show up for me in whatever way makes sense for her right now.

Anyway, I think a heart to heart is the way to go!
posted by iadacanavon at 7:59 PM on November 1, 2021 [3 favorites]


I would be very clear about your expectations of a MOH, because I personally would have no clue about any obligations aside from wearing what you wanted me to and standing next to you at the ceremony, and it sounds like you and the college friend expect more. (This is what our wedding party did. One of them is shy so even speeches weren’t a requirement.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:30 AM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]


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