Ask Team Practical: How To Be A Kickass Bridesmaid


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: How To Be A Kickass Bridesmaid | A Practical Wedding

We are long-distance best friends, both looking to plan weddings in the next couple of years, and both interested in nontraditional weddings. One of us is waiting on a ring and the other is about a year from engagement, so there won’t be too much overlap in our planning (read: this question is not “how do we avoid Bride Wars?”). However, we’re both on tight budgets and are realizing that there will be a gap between how much we want to be there for each other, and how much we are physically able to be there for each other (what with one thousand miles of distance and all).

We love APW as budget-minded, feminist, nontraditional (soon-to-be) brides, but today we’re writing as bridesmaids/MOH’s. We are both thinking about taking the non-bridesmaid route and taking each other as MOH. APW has given us some great posts on alternate bridal parties, but can we hear more about the time between assembling the team and getting hitched? What duties are bridesmaids “supposed” to perform during both wedding planning and actual wedding, and which ones are really necessary? More broadly, we’d love to hear stories from fellow readers about your experiences with or as bridesmaids/MOH’s, especially those who were/are long distance!

Far Away Besties

Dear FAB,

You guys already know what I’m gonna say here.

Other than getting a fancy title and wearing what you ask, a bridesmaid doesn’t really have “duties.” When you ask someone to be your bridesmaid, you’re really just taking the opportunity to show everyone, “Hey! This person is special to me!” Not to take on some free help in planning your dream wedding.

But that’s from a bride’s perspective, right? What if you’re a bridesmaid? Or even, an overachieving sort of gal who really loves the bride and wants to be one effing fantastic super-bridesmaid? Sort of a different story. So, just for you guys, FAB, I’m going to tackle this from the position of, “How Can I Be a Stellar Bridesmaid?” What’s required? What’s not really required, but sort of expected? And what’s the fast track to winning a Bridesmaid of the Year Award (I hope it’s a sparkly trophy).

The bare necessities bridesmaid will:

  • Stand up front with the couple during the ceremony.
  • Wear what the couple asks. And pay for it, unless the couple decides to be generous.
  • Get herself to the wedding without hassling the couple about it. They may want updates just to make sure you’ll be there, but don’t assume they’re taking care of your travel or a place to stay. You handle that, like a grown-up.
  • Come to the rehearsal. Like a pro. That means: listening to instructions, being polite to everyone’s mom, not overtly hitting on other members of the wedding party, not being even a little bit drunk.

And that’s pretty much it. You guys are long distance? All you really have to do is make sure you get yourselves there for the rehearsal and wedding, and make sure you’re wearing the right stuff. Got that, and you’re golden.

The extra stuff that’s usually involved, but is actually optional:

  • Throw a bridal shower. Team up with whatever other bridesmaids there are and, in most cases, the moms of the couple. Traditionally, the mom was not part of the shower planning at all (it was considered self-serving for a mother to plan a party so that people would give her kid gifts). But, generally today, moms are pretty involved and might already be planning one whether you know it or not.
  • Throw a bachelorette party. There aren’t really etiquette guidelines for this one (even my spell check is convinced that “bachelorette” isn’t a word). Plan a fun night—whether out or in, at a bar or in a cabin, with penis-shaped lollipops or sans. Sometimes it’s strictly bridesmaids, sometimes a ton of the bride’s friends. Like I said. No real rules here, just whatever would mean “night o’ fun” for the bride. If the bridesmaids are long distance, often this is just a night at the bar two days before the wedding. (Note: a night at the bar bacheloretting the NIGHT before the wedding has pretty much been proven to be a bad idea.)
  • Buy a wedding gift. Most groups of bridesmaids decide on a budget and chip in on a gift together, but that’s not required if it means just another thing to try to get six girls to decide on via email. You all may disagree, but I generally think bridesmaids should stay away from the registry. Sure, the couple wants everything on that registry, but you guys are the folks who (presumably) know them best. If anyone is going to get something they don’t just need (can opener? oven mitts?), but something they’ll actually love (gift certificate to their favorite restaurant? awesome handmade wooden commemorative thing she Pinned from Etsy?). Leave the blenders and bed sheets to Aunt Helen who hasn’t seen her in years. Get them something thoughtful and meaningful.

Just for the Maid of Honor:

  • Serve as bridesmaid ringleader. Organize the ladies, make sure they’re handling their shit with punctuality and communication, and make sure they all have the info they need.
  • Give a speech/toast. Possibly. Not every wedding has that part.
  • Tag along whenever she asks. Dress fittings, venue viewings, (hopefully, yum) cake tastings.
  • Hold the important stuff. The ring for her partner, the bouquet during the vows, the train when she’s trying to walk around.
  • Witness the signing of the marriage certificate.
  • Record gifts at parties. 
  • Make sure she looks great. If she wants you to, help her get dressed before the wedding. Keep tabs on how she looks during the wedding and straighten the train/blazer/pleather jeggings/veil if anything looks out of place. Bustle her gown between ceremony and reception if she needs it, and then take whatever she wore to the ceremony home with you after the wedding if she’s jetting right off to her honeymoon immediately.

All of that stuff above is well and good. Show up for stuff, pay for things. But, being a super-terrific bridesmaid is more than either of those things. It’s all about the spirit of the thing. It’s a matter of doing whatever you can to make sure your friends have a great time (terrific news for you long-distance buds!).

Extra bonus points bridesmaid will:

  • Be super available the day before and the day of the wedding. You know. Just be ready to cart cases of champagne to the reception site, help set up folding chairs, reapply mascara when her mother-in-law makes her cry.
  • Dance at the reception. First ones on the floor, last ones off. Seriously, ladies, get that party rolling. If you ask our girl Emily Post, a bridesmaid is a quasi-hostess of the wedding. Mingle, chat up the guests, make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. And, break out your Macarena as needed.
  • Filter your bitching. That other bridesmaid who totally isn’t carrying her weight, skimped on her share of the costs, and didn’t even show up to the shower on time? Complain about her to the other bridesmaids, but not to the bride. Same goes for those ugly shoes you had to pay $300 for and that gave you blisters. Fine, whine about it. But not to the couple. You’re there to alleviate stress, not add to it.
  • “Keep crazy twelve feet away from the bride at all times!” That gem comes from Meg. She’s adamant that is the bridesmaid’s only real job. Matching dresses are optional, she says. Crazy buffering: mandatory.
  • Bring some necessities just in case. My day was saved by a bridesmaid with the forethought to bring some safety pins and deodorant. (We have a few ideas for emergency kits over here!)
  • Keep that couple hydrated. Getting married is thirsty business.
  • Be emotionally available throughout the whole process. No one really talks about it, but wedding planning can be a lonely time. When you’re getting married, you’re facing so much crazy stuff that you logically know should not be crazy (another argument about where Uncle Ralph is sitting? Honestly?). You’re facing major life change. You’re happy, but maybe also a little sad and frustrated. It’s a lot. A bridesmaid, ideally, is someone who you always could count on when you needed someone to cry to or laugh with before. So, you keep them close to you during this emotionally fraught time, when the chances of needing a cry or laugh (to avoid crying) are at their height. As a bridesmaid, you wanna be there and ready for all that stuff. Call and ask how the wedding planning is going, and suck it up through the seventeenth episode of tears and angst over place card fonts.

You see that giant list of bullet points I just made, FAB? Kind of overwhelming, yeah? But, notice that the biggest part is the chunk where I talk about being an emotional support. I know you guys are long-distance pals, and it may be hard to plan a bridal shower or tag along to a dress fitting, but being supportive is something you can do from anywhere. Emotions travel via phone, email, and Skype! How convenient of them. Being a bridesmaid just comes down to holding a place of honor. And being an emotional support during a weird and emotional time makes that relationship worth honoring.

*****

Team Practical, what makes someone an awesome bridesmaid? If you’ve planned a wedding without your best friends nearby, how did you involve them in planning?

Photo by Leah and Mark.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

 

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Margi

    Great post! I’m a bridesmaid in my only brother’s wedding. I’m not really close with the bride so we don’t email or chat on the phone. I live on the east coast and they live on the west coast. It’s really been a challenge in trying to be a good bridesmaid, as I have for other friends. I’ve offered help often, even if it is just researching stuff online. Honestly, I wish she just hadn’t asked me because I feel so disconnected from everyone and everything.

    • Jo

      I went through the same exact thing last year.

      At first, I was so touched and honored that my brother’s now-wife wanted me to be a bridesmaid. I was excited for my brother and eager to help. But as time went on, no matter how much I offered, she didn’t want anything from me. I traveled across the country on several separate occasions to attend her shower and bachelorette parties, but was allowed zero involvement in planning them (she, her sister/MOH, and mother ran the show).

      In the end, my feeling was that I really wish the couple had chosen not to stick with the gender-specific wedding party rules. I’d never agreed with them myself, but it just seemed so obvious after this experience that where I really should’ve been was by my brother’s side, not his wife’s. I had really hoped that the process would’ve brought me closer to her, and that’s why I went out of my way to participate and attend things as well as call and email her (which she never responded to).

      Anyway, Margi,
      You may end up like me and end up feeling disconnected. But when their wedding comes, it will mean the world to your brother to have you standing up there with him (even if you’re on the opposite side), and down the road as their relationship with your family grows and they have kids, etc, your participation in this special moment for them will be worthwhile.

      • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

        Eek, I’ve been on this side of this before, and I’m on the opposite side now and trying to navigate it gracefully. I’d love any insights you might have to share!

        While I was a bridesmaid for a bride I didn’t know very well, I went out of my way to help out. I made decorations for the bridesmaid brunch, sent cheerful notes biweekly to try and form a connection, was active in the facebook group and on the website- just to wear a dress and walk down the aisle. I didn’t really want to help plan (it’s her wedding, I totally get it!) but it would have been nice to feel like she wanted to talk to me, or appreciated my interest?

        Now, as a bride with not one but two future sister-in-laws in my bridal party, I’m trying really hard to make people feel included. Since the bridal party is entirely siblings (I didn’t want to choose between friends) I feel like it might go smoothly (there isn’t a clique of friends to make other bridesmaids feel left out?) but I’m still stressed. My sister is very involved, and, although I’ve started reaching out to Badger’s sisters, they don’t seem to care about the wedding (which is fine, but I want to make them feel included? I don’t need them to do stuff, but I’d like to feel like they are happy? Can I ask them if they are happy? Or is that crazy? Goodness I’m awful at making friends…)

        Any suggestions to help make this a fun experience for all? Any horror stories about what not to do?

        • http://www.galiciamerican.com Jess

          Ugh, Sonarisa, I feel you. I didn’t have a wedding party but especially because of that, I really wanted to make sure my future sisters-in-law felt included and that I was really looking forward to having them in my life (I never had a sister before).

          Family was involved in many ways but I especially needed their help with dress shopping, since my mom and friends were all on the other side of the ocean. They happily agreed to go with me, but when I showed them my favorite dress, I couldn’t elicit anything more than an “it’s nice”. I think it’s just their nature not to say too much or get too involved, but I really wanted to have that bonding moment and have them tell me their true opinions. It was so awkward that I had to go back with another (American) friend that I knew would tell me the truth.

          I guess just don’t take it personally if they don’t seem totally enthusiastic about all things wedding. I know they were happy to be included and happy to have me as part of their family, but they didn’t express it in the ways I was expecting them to. Just remember you don’t all have to be best friends by the time the wedding rolls around. You’ve got the rest of your life to continue to build those relationships. This is only the beginning.

          • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com Sonarisa

            “Just remember you don’t all have to be best friends by the time the wedding rolls around. You’ve got the rest of your life to continue to build those relationships. This is only the beginning”

            This. Thanks, Jess for getting to the heart of this issue for me. I was talking to Badger the other day, trying to figure out how to invite participation, but also verbally say that it was ok to just stand at the wedding. When he asked why I was making things so complicated, I replied with “Because I don’t want your sisters to hate me!” Turns out I care more about their opinion (and am tying our relationship to the wedding) more than I thought. Thanks for the nice reminder!

        • Totes McGotes

          This may sound harsh, which I don’t mean it to, because you genuinely sound really nice.

          But you’ve asked them to be bridesmaids in a context where they can’t really say no. You can ask them to do stuff, but you can’t ask them to have specific feelings about your wedding. I don’t know them or their relationship with their brother, but even if they like you, they may feel totally indifferent about the wedding itself. Or as another commenter suggests, they may not show their happiness the way you would or want them to. If you want bridesmaids that are excited and show it a certain way, you should pick people who you know are excited and show it in that way.

          I’d advise you to bite the bullet and pick from amongst your friends to add to the wedding party. And please don’t ask the sisters-in-law if they’re happy. There’s no good place for that conversation to lead.

          • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com Sonarisa

            Hey Totes. Thanks for the reply. You gave some good advice, but I didn’t see it until today. Oops! Guess who talked to the sisters over the weekend? (this girl!) We had a really good conversation. Although I phrased my initial comment to address their feelings about the wedding, I wasn’t really focused on their happiness regarding my nuptials. Instead, I am concerned with making sure they feel included without making them feel like they have to do things. So we talked about what they want to do as bridesmaids and what I expect of bridesmaids (stand with me at the ceremony, don’t be mean to me during the reception). It turns out that they were in a cousin’s wedding recently who expected them to throw multiple showers and were nervous about what I expected. Good conversation. I agree with you though, if I had started with “Are you happy about my wedding?” instead of “What would you like your role to be in my wedding?” the conversation could have taken an awful turn.

            And good point about the fact that they were basically forced into the party. I’m hoping they don’t hate me too much for it, but their mother insisted that I have a party and ask them. They seem pretty ok :)

            Thanks for the insight!

        • MDBethann

          Have you talked with your fiance about having his sisters on HIS side so you can include some of your friends instead (if you’re looking for more excited bridesmaids)?

          My husband is on the introverted side and doesn’t have close guy friends aside from his brother-in-law and his cousin, who stood up with him at his first wedding. He felt weird asking them again and I felt weird having my sister & 3 besties standing up for me and no one standing up for him, so when I broached the idea of having his dad or his sister standing up with him, he really liked the idea of asking his sis and she was THRILLED! She liked that she got to wear something different (a satin 2 piece that had a bit of a tux vest look to it) and it helped having her on the groom’s side when our 6 year old nephew got bored during the ceremony.

          Granted, I had the chance to get to know my sis-in-law really well before our wedding and we get along really well, so I would have had no problems having her on my side too, but then I would have had 5 ladies supporting me and DH wouldn’t have had anyone. I’m really happy with the way everything worked out last year and no one seemed to blink an eye that we had a “best woman” instead of a “best man.”

          • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com Sonarisa

            Hey MDBETHANN. Thanks for the reply. This is a great idea, but I think we’ll stick with sisters on my side and brother’s on his. Although it would reflect our relationships of the past better to have all of his siblings on his side and my sister on mine, we’re hoping that blending our siblings together will help to unite the family. We’ll see if that works!

            Thanks again for the input!

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        I feel kinda badly reading this and wonder if my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (who was a bridesmaid) felt this way. Every person in the wedding party including parents, except for my husband, lived a thousand miles away from where we live and got married.
        I didn’t do a lot of DIY because I didn’t have an army and we kept our to do list as short as possible. But my mother in law and sister in law were always* calling/emailing like “can I help with something?” and I was always like “no, it’s fine, there’s nothing to do.” It’s not that I didn’t want their help or input, I just didn’t have time to call 6 out of town people and ask their opinions before making decisions.
        Me to husband: I like this [thing].
        Husband to me: I like it too.
        Me to husband: Done. Next?

        And to bring stuff… well everyone had to fly to my wedding. Bring your clothes, bring yourself, have a good time. I don’t need to you baking pies and traveling with them.

        Anyways, I’m sad you feel this way and would be sad if they felt that way too. They were important to me, and it was important that my future SIL stood by us in the ceremony but that’s really all it was. You’re important, I want to give you a place of honor… not make you do work.

        *My mother didn’t do this because I would call her about the wedding only when I needed to bitch about something and she knew otherwise I was taking care of it, not because I was involving her more. I suppose I could have bitched to my mother in law instead, but that doesn’t sound like a good idea. Besides, she wouldn’t have liked the foul language.

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      As a bride with a sister-in-law bridesmaid, I’m sure your brother and his fiance really are excited to have you participate. For me at least, it isn’t the work that the bridesmaids do for me, it’s the fact that my sister-in-law will be there, to support us as we are getting married!

      And honestly, that’s the most important thing.

      • Emmers

        Ditto! For me, I’m having a sister-in-law bridesmaid to honor my brother’s relationship. I think it will be special to have her there on my big day, since this is one of the first “family” events she’ll be participating in. The beginning of creating memories together, you know?

        But I’m definitely not going to farm out tasks to her, since honestly I don’t know her that well & it would for me feel a little rude.

      • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

        Right! I don’t really have a lot of *things* for my bridesmaids to do. Our wedding planning process has been very straightforward anyway (i.e. I haven’t really been overwhelmed at any point in the process.) and I’m really uncomfortable asking people for help (My two bffs just had to practically force me to let them pick up some juice and pastries for getting ready in the am, because I thought I should have to handle it.)

        So, anyway, don’t take “not having anything to do” as a sign that you’re being excluded or not doing a good job.

    • Liz

      Being the bride in a situation similar to what you describe (a bridesmaid was long distance, but woo nelly, not THAT long), I asked my friend to be in the bridal party because I wanted to honor her. Period. I think most folks who ask long distance friends feel the same way: want you to feel special, without wanting you to feel obligated to try to involve yourself in something happening so far away.

    • M

      I’ve asked my future sister-in-law, and she accepted. It has been awkward at times, since she is far away & significantly younger. But, I’ve tried to keep her included and she and her mother threw a shower for me in their hometown with the women on their side of the family.

      I do find myself hoping she doesn’t feel left out & excluded. But, my future husband is very close to his only sister and we couldn’t imagine doing this without her. I agree with others who have talked about wanting to honor that sister relationship and include her in a very important family event.

  • Martha

    All of my bridesmaids and my MOH were long distance. I live in the midwest and all of my bridesmaids live back home in Pennsylvania where our wedding was, though several hours from my hometown/site of the wedding.

    Emotional support was a big one for me – all of my girls were great at this aspect, but one in particular was the best. And it wasn’t that the other girls were unavailable when I needed them, but that my A++ bridesmaid was so great at advice and support so I ended up calling her more often than anyone else. She was also great because she was technically helpful – she made all of my centerpieces, gave us a super meaningful gift, and just all-around kicked ass. My MOH was great too (sis) but she was (and is) preggo so I tried not to burden her unnecessarily.

    I think, given that you are both planning and both long distance it’s totally doable. Heck, you can host a joint Bachelorette Party together, shop for bridesmaid dresses together in one trip, etc. The internet has definitely made long-distance planning much easier.

    • scw

      it is funny that you mention those locations, because we’ve got a midwest/east coast split too! half of FAB lives in philadelphia and the other in the twin cities.

  • Anne

    Both in my own wedding and in the wedding I was recently in, almost everyone or everyone in the wedding party was long distance. I wouldn’t sweat that part too much — it’s probably much more normal than everyone being in the same city these days.

    Having the bachelorette party two nights before the wedding is an excellent way to celebrate if everyone’s long distance, and works out totally fine (in my experiences). Don’t feel obligated to do the bridal shower thing (I didn’t have one) or fly out for something. If other in-town friends or the bride’s aunt want to throw one, let them, and don’t feel guilty about it.

    To add to the “at the wedding” list Liz put together (which is fantastic), be aware of the bride’s needs during the reception as well. I think often at the reception the wedding party lets loose and celebrates, which is awesome, but making sure your friend has water if she needs it or her flat pair of shoes (from all that dancing) will be really appreciated.

    • Emmers

      Yes to at-the-wedding needs! As a bridesmaid, one of my favorite things we helped with was a bathroom dress-change when she changed from her ceremony to reception dress. The bathroom floor was icky so we helped make sure nothing got yucked.

      • LMN

        Another yes to at-the-reception needs–specifically, in-the-bathroom needs! If the bride is wearing a dress with a full skirt, she may need help going to the bathroom, and that’s where bridesmaids/MOH/friends who have already seen you naked come in handy. I just got married last month, and I didn’t have bridal party, but I did have four good friends who helped me with dress shopping and lingerie shopping. This was good preparation for helping with bustling and bathroom breaks during the wedding.

        I decided that staying hydrated during the reception was more important than avoiding going to the bathroom. So, whenever I waved urgently at one of my ladies during the reception, one or two of them met me out at the restroom. (The staff at our venue offered us use of the private staff restroom, which was so much easier than fitting three of us and my dress in a stall–don’t be shy about asking if there is a large private restroom you can use at your venue!)

        Having four ladies “on call” meant that it was always easy to find someone to help out, and even though I was embarrassed to begin with, it ended up being just fine and hysterically funny. Note for more modest brides: I asked, and it turns out that I didn’t end up flashing any of my helpers, although I totally felt like I did. Don’t be afraid to ask for help on the grounds of flashing, because your big dress will probably cover all of it. ;)

        • MDBethann

          I second this! My mom and my sis helped me the one time I needed it, but I remember helping my college roommate with her dress at her wedding many years ago. Her sis-in-law and I held the skirt and guided her in place. With ball gown skirts, there is no easy way to go by yourself so don’t be afraid to ask for help!!

          • LMN

            Ooh, one last wedding-dress-in-the-bathroom tip: get on the toilet backwards, so you’re facing the wall. It feels silly, but it works!

    • Ashley

      I’m a BM in a wedding next week and we’re having the bachelorette party next Thursday/Thursday night for this reason. Two of the bridesmaids have to fly in for the wedding so this way no one gets left out!

    • Mallory

      In my recent wedding, all of the bridal party was a minimum of 6 hours away, with the MOH taking the distance award – she was in Japan for a Pittsburgh, PA wedding! I tried to keep all of the bridal looped in on pre-wedding festivities, all of which were optional (most of us are in grad school and we knew money for them to attend the wedding alone would make things tight for many). Our families threw us showers before (one in PA and one in SC) and we had the bachelor & bachelorette parties 2 nights before our Sunday Memorial Day weekend wedding.

      We also used lots of FaceTime and email threads for things like shoes, dresses, etc. I also found that being as open and clear about my expectations (and vice a versa) made things go so smoothly, despite the long-distance aspect of things.

  • Anya

    Most of my bridesmaids were long distance, and the one thing I have to point out is that long distance bridesmaids don’t need to go to every event that isn’t the wedding, but if you can, make it out for at least one – bachelorette party or shower. It was a bit tough for me to hear that my friend couldn’t make it out for me, but she was there for the other event, which mattered more.

    Help to manage issues you know may come up. If mom isn’t in to help get the dress on and Mom might want that – go and get Mom. Grandma needs help getting up the steps? Help her. Hand out corsages and/or boutineers, and help the men get them on if needed. DEFINITELY bring safety pins, hair pins, fashion tape, shout pen, band-aids, small scissors and needle and thread (white). long dresses get stepped on and bustles can, and do, come out. it helps to sew them in if necessary.

    Also – the bachelorette party is kind of important. Even if it’s a skype-based slumber party or a series of girls-only post cards throughout the planning process, it’s nice to get out with just friends and no partners and do the things you don’t do with your partner. Listen to what the bride wants to do on this day – it matters – and do that, not what you want to do. You don’t want her texting her afianced saying she’d rather be with him/her. By no means use the bachelorette party as a time to imply in any way shape or form that the husband/wife is less than awesome. (oh my…I guess I still have some resentment about my bachelorette party).

    • Kristen

      “You don’t want her texting her afianced saying she’d rather be with him/her.”

      Totally me at my bachelorette because everyone kept abandoning me to talk to strangers at the bar. Which is why you marry the groom not the bridesmaids…

  • Meg

    When I got married, the most important thing I SHOULD have done and didn’t was make sure my MOH knew what she should have done/what I wanted her to do. We were medium long distance (about an hour apart) but that distance made everything so much harder! I wasn’t around to give input when she was looking at bridesmaid dresses (not that she asked), she wasn’t there to help taste cake or fold programs or arrange flowers. I attribute her unhelpfulness to the fact that she’d never been a bridesmaid before and hadn’t been reading wedding blogs for years, ago she just didn’t know what I expected, and I didn’t try to make it clear until too late… which is how my then-fiance ended up being the one to make the penis cake for the bachelorette party, and our cousins helped set up the reception.

    In summary: tell her what you want, what you really really want.

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      Spice Girl wisdom FTW

    • http://www.galiciamerican.com Jess

      PLEASE DO THIS. Or at least, pick someone who’s been to several weddings or is already married.

      I was a MOH for a friend a couple years ago but I had only attended a couple weddings prior to that (and those, as a child), and wasn’t really into wedding blogs and was nowhere near planning my own wedding. So I honestly had NO idea what was expected of me (by society, I mean) and since I had never done this before, it honestly didn’t occur to me to go looking at websites or magazines or what have you. I thought that was all for the bride. I realize now that there are so many other things I could have done to be more thoughtful and further ease the bride’s stress.

    • MDBethann

      I concur. For one friend’s wedding, her MoH had never really attended weddings before and had never been in one, so it was all new territory for her. Fortunately, there were a bunch of bridesmaids who’d “been there, done that” so we were able to guide her when she asked for it and it all worked out. But if a newbie is flying solo – definitely provide some expectations (though I think expectation setting is good no matter what to reduce the likelihood of hurt feelings).

  • http://thankyouredball.com Alyssa

    Keep the crazy away. Amen.

    Hydration is good, and also food. Also, my maid of honor made sure my husband and I both got plates of hors d’oeuvres without standing in the buffet line. She saw the potential for the food to get delayed for everyone if we got held up in the line by people giving us hugs. Also, hugs + stuffed mushrooms = stained dress, probably.

  • http://letsbeamie.wordpress.com Amie

    I was MOH for my sister’s wedding while I was in my last year of university and a province away, and I kicked ass at it. I wrangled the other 4 girls into dress shopping when I was home for Christmas and Reading Week. I harassed them into helping me plan the shower and bachelorette party. And I was a major support for the big sis as her and Mom fought over the colour of her wedding shoes, again.

    Email is awesome. Skype is awesome. Phones with cameras in them are even more awesomer.

    Right now my sister is paying me back by being MOH a province away. She is my first call for everything. I send her photo messages of things I’m questioning, and she weighs in. She organized the other girls to get going on the shower and bachelorette, as she didn’t know places her to host them, and was key in making things move smoothly.

    The most important point I think in this article is how the bridesmaids are supposed to take away stress, not add to it. Do not make the bride stress about how you picked the wrong style of dress when she explicitly said vintage inspired. Do no complain about the colour of the dress and how it washes you out and how you will never wear it again. Do not complain that you have so many weddings this summer, and no free weekends before you leave on your around the world trip. And do not complain that the groomsman you are co-MCing with is annoying.

  • Blimunda

    Large bridal parties do not exist in my country. But we do have the cultural equivalent of the moh/best man (normally it’s just one or two people on each side and they don’t wear matching outfits) and even if I’ve never been one, when a few close friends got married in the past few years I just made sure I giggled with them, offered my crafty hands (assembling the favors, making ring pillows, etc) offered advice (only) when asked for and generally validated the choices they already had made and they were happy about. I was honored to be invited at their home before the ceremony for the getting ready part (when they had specifically told all other friends they preferred not to have anyone around) and even received gifts (!) from a couple brides after the wedding.
    Sometimes you don’t have to plot anything complicated, when you’re truly excited for your friend’s happines it will all come easy.

  • Paige

    Just a minor tip – try not to be hungover for any wedding-related events (unless it’s a whole-party hangover brunch the day after the bachelorette party/wedding). One of my bridesmaids (love her to death) had too much fun the night before our rehearsal & rehearsal dinner. She could barely function to get through the rehearsal, was silent, stone-faced, and didn’t eat anything during the dinner, and generally just brought everyone down. Although it was a minor blip on our wedding weekend happiness, it was frustrating that she wasn’t really present for me the night before my wedding.

  • http://texancountess.wordpress.com KendraD

    I was the super long distance MOH for both my sister and best friend in 2011. Both of them were in Texas and I was in Germany. For my sister’s wedding, I still planned her lingerie shower, which is our family tradition replacement of the bachelorette party. For my best friend, she had another MOH who took care of the showers and they just told me what to contribute. Both of them chose to do a bachelorette party/shower right before their wedding so that I could be there to celebrate with them.

    For my own “weddinged” ceremony that I’m planning for next year, I’ve already told the two of them and my other bridesmaids that all I’m expecting is them to show up. They’re all picking a black dress and their own shoes to wear. I don’t want or need a shower, I just want my dearest to be recognized and stand up with me on the wedding day. There’s no cake tasting to be done, since I’m currently planning a wedding that will take place in Michigan while I’m living in Turkey.

    Maybe I’m biased from all of this, but I’m also lucky in that both my sister and my best friend thought it more important to have me in their wedding than think about what extras I could do for them. And I just want them present on the day of my ceremony, even if it means folding my programs by myself.

  • Copper

    I would just put “be emotionally available” at the very top of the list. I don’t know about you, but that’s why I picked the bridesmaids I did—not out of some long-standing obligation, not because they’d look cute in pictures, or would be able to handle planning, or whatever. If you don’t make the rehearsal? I’ll deal. But being there emotionally is bridesmaid duty #1 as far as I’m concerned. It is your duty as a bridesmaid to, when I get stressed, remind me why it is I’m marrying this man, and get me down that aisle. The rest is just icing.

  • http://www.againstthegraincopyediting.com Sandy

    I was just MOH at my long-time best friend’s wedding and, while we are technically not long distance (only an hour away), it was made rather harder by the fact that I was writing and defending my MA thesis and she was planning a destination wedding (another two hours away).

    However, other bridesmaids helped with essentials because they were closer in distance and less busy. One friend, who was not working while in grad school, planned the bachlorette party, allowing the bride to not think about it or feel like she was burdening me with it. Another brought in her mother as the seamstress for the dress alterations, allowing the bride some company at fittings without having to ask me to drive down regularly and (again) feel like she was burdening me.

    I felt often like I wasn’t doing enough to be her MOH, but she assured me she was fine and well cared for. Bridesmaids work together to help the bride with what she needs, each working with their strengths to be the best help.

    The biggest thing was the weekend of the wedding. We rented a cabin at the wedding site for just the maids, which gave us an excuse for boozing and pedicuring and chatting up one of the maids about her new beau (which was just the most romantic story, but I digress). While we had an Official Bachlorette Party, this was essential and served the purpose. Bride was made happy and surrounded by love.

    The day of the wedding, I engaged in Meg’s advice of crazy protecting. I took her mom for a walk around town when Mom became annoying about how long it was taking to get her hair done. I spent an hour with her alone in the cabin before we got her dressed, giving her a pedicure and foot massage while chatting her up about random things that had nothing to do with wedding.

    That was when I was most needed. And you will be able to be there for each other for that.

  • http://concerningpurity.blogspot.com Lynn

    I’ve been a bridesmaid twice, both were pretty long distance situations. This list is pretty accurate, but I will say that I honestly do not enjoy being a bridesmaid, and I wish our traditions surrounding the wedding party members were not quite so strict. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m expected to do and I do it without complaining, but I feel like I’m enduring a trial rather than jubilantly celebrating a friendship and her wedding, and I wish I didn’t feel that way.

    Maybe I just don’t enjoy big traditional weddings in general. But I think it’s more that the expectations placed on me as a bridesmaid hit on all of my major insecurities: finances, body image, and social anxiety/introversion. I get really scared and stressed over the costs of the dress, shoes, parties, gifts, and travelling, because I’ve never had great financial stability. Each wedding I’ve been in has forced me to wear a dress that I would NEVER choose for myself and that I felt humiliated wearing in public, yet I had to be in it all day in front of tons of people. And lastly, though I don’t mind general socializing, the type of socializing involved in showers and weddings is very different and very draining for me. I’ve never liked dancing in public or giving speeches or being forced to “have a blast” with people I barely know.

    Probably due to how hard it’s been on me, and probably also due to some self-worth issues I have, I have a hard time imagining asking those things of a friend I care about. I suppose it seems more imposing than honoring, even though I know a lot of people don’t feel that way about it. For my own wedding, I don’t think I’ll have any bridesmaids, nor will I have the dance. I just want something low-key with my closest friends and family.

    One last thought: I see a lot of complaining by brides (not here, just in general) about their bridesmaids that didn’t live up to expectations, and even going so far as to say it damaged their friendship. As someone who is a loyal and loving friend, but not good at weddings, I’d like to say on behalf of anyone like me, “I’m truly sorry I can’t be the person you want me to be for your wedding. I’m flawed, and I don’t fit into the wedding/bridesmaid mold. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I love you, support you, want the best for you, and will try my best to help you in your wedding.”

    • Blimunda

      You’re not flawed.

    • Rachel Wilkerson

      “But I think it’s more that the expectations placed on me as a bridesmaid hit on all of my major insecurities: finances, body image, and social anxiety/introversion.” This is true for me as well! I consider myself a pretty confident person but as I prepare to be a b-maid tomorrow, I have found a lot of little anxieties popping up. For me, it’s the combination of being sort of on display but also not knowing most of the guests who will be there. I definitely found myself stressing about being “enough” in all the areas you mentioned.

      So…yeah. <3

    • scw

      I am one half of FAB and part of the reason we sent in this question is because we share your insecurities. we want to honor each other but also do whatever we can to keep each other from feeling drained at our big events (this goes both ways – even my own wedding, as an introvert, is going to be rough for me at times!). I laughed a little that the first necessity is to stand with the bride and groom as I’m not sure either of us are even picturing having our bridal party up there with us! and there probably won’t be any walking down the aisle or entrance to the reception for the bridal party either, at least on my end.

      all of this to say you’re not only not flawed- you’re not alone!

      (and thanks, liz, for answering our question!!)

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      I have a very small handful of people I would ever be a bridesmaid for, for this exact reason. I can handle social situations, but I’m not a social person and wedding events tend to be extra awkward for me. You want someone to hang out with while you make centrepieces? I’m great for that. You want me to help run your stag and doe? I can do it but I’m a little terrified of the event in general.

  • http://anniecardi.com Annie

    Am I the only one who disagrees with: “Get herself to the wedding without hassling the couple about it. They may want updates just to make sure you’ll be there, but don’t assume they’re taking care of your travel or a place to stay. You handle that, like a grown-up.” Not that couples should have to fork over money for a hotel room or limo, but if your bridal party includes people flying in from out of town, maybe offer to have them stay on your mom’s couch or see if anyone can offer a ride from the church to the reception. Sure, you’re a grown-up and can rent a car, but I think brides/grooms should be conscientious of their bridal parties’ travel arrangements.

    • http://teastrumpets.wordpress.com/ kyley

      My wedding is something of a destination for everyone (2 hrs away). A handful of my good friends are travelling and staying together, one of whom in that group is a bridesmaid. Last night a friend (not a bridesmaid) mentioned causally that they still had not sorted out sleeping arrangements. My wedding is in 10 days, and I’m now really stressed about this. My friend, the bridesmaid, wasn’t telling me this intentionally, b/c it will get sorted out, but my friend the non-bridesmaid didn’t think of how stressful it would be to have this information.

      So, I agree with this sentiment: Don’t add stress to your friend b/c you can’t figure out where to stay/haven’t made a reservation yet, esp when the actual event is right around the corner. That is really different than asking, a few months out, “Hey, where is a good affordable place to stay?” and seeing if they have a brother’s couch to crash on, or whatever.

    • Copper

      I think there’s a difference between coordinating and hassling. If you ask what people are doing or expected to do for these things, talk about it, then either go along with what people are doing or make your own plans, then you’ve coordinated but not hassled. If you expect them to do every little thing for you, don’t check with other bridesmaids, don’t check the wedding website if there is one, etc. but instead expect the bride to answer your every little question at any time, or debate with her why she shouldn’t be doing things the way she is and expect her to change her plans for you, you’re hassling.

      • http://anniecardi.com Annie

        Very good point.

    • LikelyLaura

      I think you should always be considerate of your wedding party’s budgets, but no I don’t think the bride and groom need to be responsible for lodging and transportation. A room block at a reasonably priced hotel is ideal, but even without that people will figure it out. If a mother wants to offer up a spare room, then sure let your girls know. But hosting my friends would have really stressed my mom out more. And she loves my friends. You wouldn’t expect the bride to worry transportation for her cousins coming in from far away, because they’d know to ask another family member if they need a ride. So it’s fair that Bridesmaids can also talk to each other about travel arrangements.

      Unless you are getting married in a remote area where transportation/lodging will be hard to find without significant advance planning, you don’t need to worry about it unless you want to. (Which, FWIW, we wanted to and hired a shuttle. Two years later I’m still hearing new stories about what went down on the bus! So, worth it, if you ask me.)

    • Samantha

      I’m having my wedding in my hometown area. Fiance is from states away, and all of the bridal party is out of state. There is no way I could manage to coordinate/think about where everyone is sleeping. That would be a nightmare for me. I’m cringing just thinking of it.

      • ANOTHER MEG

        For any wedding I’ve been in or traveled to, the couple have had a block of rooms at a hotel, and we’ve used that. If I was low on money, (which happened at least once) I arranged to crash with a friend who lived nearby or share a hotel room to cut costs. But I would never have expected the bride or groom to arrange that for me.

    • Liz

      Traditionally, bridal party would arrange and pay for their own transportation and the couple would provide accommodations. I’m not quite sure why that division of responsibility existed (like someone else said, it would seem to me the family would be preoccupied with their own preparations for the wedding: hosting folks who wanted stay on top of all that seems added stress), but I also am not sure why it fell away. Maybe as bridal parties grew in size and it became more and more likely that they’d all be traveling to be there, it became less logistically feasible and so less expected.

      In my mind, the bridesmaids swoop in. I’m in a wedding now where someone is flying in from the West Coast, and we all have sort of texted around, “Who’s Sheree staying with? Does she have a ride??” Of course the couple wants to make sure she’s alright… but to rely on them to handle it completely seems an added burden, to me.

      Interesting!

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    My “people” were all far away but I truly only wanted them to show up and be wonderful. And they did. I delegated things to my sister (MOH) along the way, but all I really cared about was that they brought their positive and loving energy to the day. It was so FUN to just seeeee them and hang out instead of it being the final day after a long few months of crafting or over-analyzing or whatever with them. They all came in to town early, helped me with last minute errands and arrangements, and were along for the ride. We all had a great weekend together even though we had barely discussed or done any pre-events until that long weekend. I chose them specifically because I knew they would make me feel the way I wanted to feel on my wedding day, and they did. And that was better than manual labor or party planning or paying for anything.

  • TNM

    No. 1 unofficial job for a MOH: wrangle the other bridesmaids. I will be eternally grateful to my (long-distance) MOH for dealing with some of the logistics and most of the (minor) drama of all the “bridesmaid specific” parts of the wedding, i.e. dresses, shower, bachelorette, logistics of wedding party getting around for rehearsal and wedding. There is always that bridesmaid who you love but is just going to be impossible about the dress or who has “very strong ideas” about the shower. Every now and then, a little tidbit of this would float up to me in the wedding planning process, and I would beseech my MOH, “Oh no, what can I do?” and she would say “Nothing. No problem! I’m handling.”

    Best gift I got for my wedding!

  • Ang

    I have a bridesmaid dilemma…I am the bridesmaid for one of my primary school friends this fall. We were very close when we were young but we definitely drifted apart. She is someone who loses touch with friends when she’s in a relationship (I get that it’s a two-way street too). I had only met the groom once, in passing, before being asked to be in the wedding. The majority of the bridesmaids are in the same boat.

    I was excited when she asked me (and another close friend) to be in the wedding because it would be a great chance to get back together and I’m more than willing to do all the planning, parties, dress purchasing, etc, (and what we’ve done so far has been great!) However, I just received the invitation last week. It was addressed to only me with no mention of my significant other (whom I live with). I spoke with the other friend in the wedding and she was invited singularly too (been in a relationship for 3 years).

    I will be putting in over 6 hours of drive time through the course of her wedding weekend, and (selfishly, I know) would really like to be able to bring someone with me to make that tolerable. Especially since I am in a committed relationship.

    Am I out of line to ask her if that was a mistake? Do I just RSVP with a guest? I don’t want to offend her, but at them same time, I’m really offended already.

    • My Name Here

      Do NOT just RSVP with a guest. Full stop. She/her parents/her fiance/his parents/someone is paying for people to attend this wedding. She invited just you. Whether or not you agree, you can’t just ignore that.

      Besides, the conversation will have to happen if you RSVP for yourself and your person because I’m sure she’ll have something to say about it. And, if not, both of you will be harboring resentment towards each other.

      I would either grin and bear it or approach her neutrally — not accusing, just asking why your partner (and your friend’s) wasn’t invited. I don’t have any advice on what to say specifically, because I’m in the camp that if someone isn’t invited, I’m not going to ask for an invitation…personally, it makes me feel squicky.

      You and she are good friends. You need to assume she isn’t not inviting your partner to hurt or offend you. She probably has a personal reason for doing so (whether it’s money or not knowing him/her or wanting a smaller wedding or wanting you to be present for her more than splitting your time between her and your significant other or etc.).

      • Ang

        Thanks for the confirmation. A friend of mine who is a self-proclaimed ‘etiquette expert’ insisted that this was a faux pas on the bride’s part and I should RSVP that he’s coming without having the awkward conversation to alert her to her mistake. The thought that I’d offend her further by asking was something I hadn’t even thought of.

        The other friend had already RSVP’d for two before she realized that the invitation was only addressed to her. I don’t think there has been any toxic fallout from that, but thought this was a perfect avenue for multiple opinions.

        Thanks again!

        • ANOTHER MEG

          Technically, it is a bridal faux pas. If you’re living with someone, they should be invited just like a spouse would be. But yeah, I wouldn’t just RSVP for two. I’d go with a friendly, non-confrontational phone call.

          • Liz

            Yep, exactly- one faux pas does not negate the other. Even if she’s behaving badly (and she is), it doesn’t give you license to do so.

    • Amy March

      I’d call and ask. But I’m in the not inviting bridesmaids SOs is rude camp.

    • Emmy

      I don’t think you’re out of line to ask if it’s a mistake. It isn’t good form to RSVP for 2 when only 1 was invited. But what are you going to do if it wasn’t a mistake? Normally, I’d say you could decline if she won’t invite your partner, but being a bridesmaid makes it complicated. Good luck!

      • yet another Meg

        Sorry! Reported you by accident. I have got to be more careful when scrolling on my phone.

    • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

      Like the other wise women said: You may certainly ask about it, you may certainly NOT just go ahead and RSVP for two.

      If it’s not a mistake, though, and your SO really isn’t invited, is it a cool enough town that s/ he could go along for the drive but hang by him/herself for the weekend? Maybe just hook up with you (in any definition of the term) at the after party? Or maybe you could take extra time on the way home to chillax for a bit?

      • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

        Also, in terms of phrasing to use when discussing this with the bride (if you’re looking for ideas), I think you could avoid awkwardness with a simple “Hey, I was wondering if guests were allowed? I was really hoping to bring Partner along for the ride, but I understand if it’s a small party” I’d probably respond better to that than “Is Partner invited? Why not??”

        • Ang

          I absolutely am looking for ideas! Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve been playing out in my head how this conversation would go since I opened the invite.

          And in terms of the town, there is absolutely nothing for him to do. We have to drive a half hour from the reception to the closest hotel as is. (Without the SO/chauffeur, it also means really no consumption of alcohol for me since I have the alcohol tolerance of an ant. I know it’s not all about that, but sometimes it does enhance the fun.)

          Mostly I’m really bummed if it wasn’t a mistake because I think my SO would be an absolute perfect fit with this group of friends. And I’m sad that he wouldn’t have a chance to share it with us.

        • Copper

          I wouldn’t include the “but I understand if it’s a small party…” thing. It just preemptively gives her an excuse for the faux-pas.

          I guess I’m a bit more direct, I’d just say, “I got the invitation, and I was really surprised. It hadn’t occurred to me that my partner wouldn’t be welcome until I saw the address. What’s up with that?”

          • Copper

            oh and I just wanted to add, I am not the etiquette police here. But this one’s a no-no for a reason. When you don’t invite people’s long-standing partners, at best you’re being thoughtless and at worst you’re purposely making someone uncomfortable and deeming their partner is not good enough. Even the best-case scenario there isn’t very nice.

          • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

            Yeah, I included the auto-opt-out on purpose. I think it’s a major oversight (accidental or intentional) not to include a committed partner, however, it’s still the bride’s party, she gets to decide who’s invited.

    • Jen

      I am agreed with most of the other ladies – definitely talk to her about it, don’t just RSVP for 2.

      Not exactly on the same level, but we made the decision to not expressly invite our cousins’ children (so we addressed the invites to Ms & Mr, not Ms & Mr & family). We had already chatted with a few friends with young kids, and they had told us that they were most likely not bringing their little ones, so we knew there wouldn’t be many kids around. That didn’t mean that we weren’t open to having kids there if parents weren’t able to find a babysitter, but we figured that anyone who wanted to bring their kids would contact us and ask if it was okay. One of my hubby’s cousins just RSVP’d for himself, his wife and their three kids without checking in with us, and although it wasn’t a problem at all, it did kind of rub me the wrong way (they’re not very close to us, and it felt kind of rude and presumptuous of them to assume…)

    • MDBethann

      DEFINITELY do NOT RSVP for 2. Instead, ASK. Maybe something along the lines of, “I was disappointed to see that my long-time boyfriend wasn’t invited because I was looking forward to sharing the long drive with someone and having him meet everyone. If he can’t come, do you know of anyone else coming from my area with whom I could carpool?”

      This way, you’re noting your disappointment & your reason why, but you’re giving her 2 gracious ways to respond: (1) I’m sorry we left him off, of course you can bring him or (2) Unfortunately we’re tight on space at our venue, but I can put you in touch with X, Y, and Z about sharing a ride.

      One of my DH’s cousins did that to us last year – she was single, no bf, no committed relationship (I had asked my MIL first). We invited just her, but she RSVPed for 2 and did so rather late and without checking with us first, which really annoyed me. If she had e-mailed or called or even had her mother ask us since the cousin lives on the opposite coast, I would have been a lot less annoyed and been able to respond in some way. But by the time she RSVPed, I had to accept it and had no way to respond because I only had her snail mail address. Our rule was that if you were in a relationship, the partner was invited, but single guests didn’t get to bring plus 1s (and I checked around to confirm single-hood too so I wouldn’t accidentally miss someone’s SO).

      The guy she brought was apparently “a friend” (with benefits, maybe? I don’t know) and then a few days after the wedding, they had a non amicable parting of the ways and now I have wedding reception pictures with some random guy dancing in them (he was a bit of a party animal & the photographer included him in a lot of photos. Ugh).

  • Mezzanine

    One thing that my bridesmaids have done is point out to me what I’m like.

    My three bridesmaids are my sisters and my best friend – and they all know me REALLY well. So, when I was telling them about the reception, they were the ones who got together, agreed with each other that if I had six solid hours of dealing with guests I’d end up sobbing and crawling under a tablecloth to hide from all the people (which I so would), and brainstormed ideas for giving me a break in the middle. Which is why I’m now sneaking off for a cup of tea with my husband while everyone else is eating dinner.

    They were also the ones who pointed out that I’m going to need time to freak out about getting married in the week beforehand, and came up with ways to be helpful while I’m freaking…

    Bottom line is, they know me. Really well. So they can look at normal wedding stuff, and figure out, pretty accurately, how that normal wedding stuff is going to work when I’m the one having the wedding. Which has been SO helpful.

    • scw

      sneaking off to tea during dinner! what a great idea!

  • Joanna

    A big part of it is showing up. Being emotionally present for the bride is the best thing you can do. Here’s what not to do:

    Based on my experiences with one of my difficult bridesmaids, here are a few don’ts:

    Don’t miss the bachelorette party (that you wanted to organize) and the rehearsal because of a failure to schedule work properly. Don’t be super late. Don’t abandon the bridal party and spend the whole 5 hour reception making out and then having car sex with the bride’s cousin. Don’t cop out, reschedule, forget. Just try to be present, and you’ll be great :)

    (The good news is, even though one of my best friends was a terrible, awful bridesmaid, my other bridesmaid just blew me away with their loveliness!)

  • Celeste

    I’m just gonna chime in here with what my sister did as Maid of Honor that really made my day/week as a bride, being as she lives in another country so none of this was part of planning (though there were extensive emails), and also what I did for her as her Maid of Honor, to maybe give some people some ideas from the other side of the ceremony.
    I delegated to my sister the role that a traditional wedding planner would have, sort of. She was in charge of making sure I didn’t have to worry about the speaker rentals or the caterers before the wedding and made sure things happened according to schedule as much as possible. She provided emotional support before the ceremony when my other bridesmaid freaked out and tried to smooth things over and she wrangled family for photos and made sure we signed our marriage certificate. I’ll probably never know the extent of what she did because most of it was completely invisible to me. She also wrote and delivered THE BEST toast that made me bawl.
    But it was actually after the wedding that I really needed her. We had an afterparty the night after the wedding for a larger group of friends and acquaintances that we couldn’t invite to our small wedding. Things got a bit drunkenly out of hand and a good number of people crashed at our place. We had to leave the next day for our honeymoon and had a long flight ahead of us and we hadn’t even fully packed (BIG mistake I know!). My sister and her friend cleaned up after everyone so we didn’t leave our house a mess while we were gone for 2 weeks, made sure our cat was prepared for, and when our flight was rescheduled she helped me to calm down and made sure I didn’t have to worry about anything else. I know this is above and beyond, but I still tear up a little thinking about how grateful I am that she did that for us.
    When my sister was married the next year, I was determined to be an awesome MOH for her. So I helped with makeup and getting ready, tried to keep her and mom from fighting, and chipped in wherever I could, tying balloons together, assembling favor bags, carting things to the venue, whatever. On the night of the wedding, my husband and I slipped out of the reception as it was winding down and straightened up their hotel room for them and put some flowers in there. I guess for me it came down to trying to make their life as hassle-free as possible and trying to put myself in her place and anticipate what she needed and make it happen.

  • Jen

    My MOH lives across the country from me, and although she wasn’t physically here with me during the planning, she was there for me via text and skype whenever I needed to vent or just catch up, and she was a HUGE help the weekend of the wedding. She’s a teacher, and so she was only able to fly in the Thursday before the wedding, and she flew out the Monday after (the wedding was on a Sunday). We somehow managed to get everything in on that weekend – Bridal Shower (at my house) Thursday evening, Friday morning we drove to Stowe (about a 2.5 hour drive) and that evening we had the “bachelorette”, Saturday was for picking up flowers and general last minute wedding stuff, and Sunday was the wedding itself! We are both crafty ladies, so ahead of time I had asked if she wanted to craft her own bouquet and help with a couple of other things (putting together programs, tying name tags on favours/place cards) and she was super excited to do it – it was great bonding time for us too, especially since she was only in town for a few days!!

    The only thing that would have been different if my MOH lived in the same city as me would have been that she would have been more involved in planning the shower and bachelorette (most likely). My sisters-in-law were the ones who planned these (along with my mother-in-law for the shower), and I will admit that there were times I wished that my friends (MOH and other bridesmaid Julia) were more involved simply because they know me and my likes/dislikes a whole lot better…however, in the end it all worked out really well because when I started getting stressed and worried about things I spoke to both my MOH and my friend Julia and they both did an awesome job of communicating my likes, dislikes and concerns to those who were in charge (even though I told them not to do anything about it because I was sure it was going to be fine and that I was probably just stressed about it because I had no control…luckily they were both smart and wonderful enough to put my sanity and happiness first!).

    Also, my MOH and the Best Man (my brother-in-law) stood up with our parents around the chuppah at the ceremony, but everyone else in the bridal brigade sat in the first row – we didn’t feel that it was necessary to have everyone standing up with us, but of course that’s a totally personal decision, and whether or not your MOH physically “stands” for you does not change that she is there for you, supporting you, on your wedding day! :)

    I hope you both have wonderful planning experiences and that you’re able to help and support each other through it!!

    • Rachel

      Yes. Show up a few days early. Whatever pre-wedding events you may not be able to fly across the country for will not matter at all if you’re there and fully present for your bridey friend in the days leading up to the wedding. I was the maid of honor in a friend’s wedding who lived 3000 miles away. Rolled into town 3 days early, was able to go with her to the venue for her final walk-through, which meant I met the wedding coordinator and other vendors and was able to be the go-to contact person for them on the wedding day so they didn’t have to hassle the bride. Also ran a bunch of errands, put together place cards, and generally gave her the feeling of someone at her service to make her life easier.

      As a bride, it’s not just great to have someone there to help, it also gives you that anticipatory “oh my gosh this wedding is happening!!!” feeling when people you love start rolling into town, and you get to enjoy some extra time with your closest pals.

      Day of: be a buffer between her and any stress; make her eat a snack before she gets all dolled up; get her a glass of champagne / plate of hors deuvres while she’s kissing aunts and uncles / taking photos after the ceremony. Also: Pay Attention To Her Parents. If you go way back, you probably know her folks pretty well. Weddings are a happy time for parents but can involve some intense feelings too (including feeling angsty about the event going smoothly if they’re helping to pay / have lots of friends coming), and I think many parents are sad that they don’t get as many intimate moments with their daughter on their wedding day as they might like. Having you lavish some special love on her mom or dad can acknowledge it’s a big day for them as well, and in general cements your role as basically-family, which to me is what being a bridesmaid is all about. When one of my best friends told me the week before my wedding that she was appointing herself to be on Mom Duty, I felt this tremendous relief.

  • http://www.vowsforbride.com/ Vows for Bride

    Thank you for including my 1960s Mad Men wedding ensemble in your treasury.

  • http://www.madamedreamer.com/ Madame Dream

    I’m gonna be a bridesmaid for the first time in a few months. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Chime in! All tips are welcomed. http://www.madamedreamer.com/2014/05/bridesmaid-files-volume-1.html