I’m recently engaged and need some unbiased advice. I am planning to ask seven girlfriends to be in my bridal party, including my two best friends, who unfortunately have histories of being very flaky. One I have known our whole lives and our families are closely intertwined. She has always been a bit spacey and indecisive, and is starting medical school in a new city this year which will understandably take up a large part of her time. My other best friend I have known since high school. She works the night shift and is awful with her phone. It could take days to get a response to any text or call, but I will see her liking posts on Instagram which shows she is simply forgetting to answer me or isn’t up to it.
My question is this—should I ask one or both of them to take on the MOH role knowing they may be overwhelmed and incapable of helping plan? My five other girlfriends in the bridal party all could most likely guess that these two would be my top choices and I feel asking one of them instead may confuse and shock them, as well as fear it will insult my two best friends. Unfortunately, I have no sisters or close female cousins to fall back on. Maybe I forgo having any MOH? I’m so unsure of what to do.
A: Hey MOH Mess,
Let me start by sharing that I have been a bridesmaid no less than seven times, and I’ve been a MOH for four of those. So, I feel pretty qualified to speak on this.
I’m going to pause here to share some unpopular opinions… I personally find the whole hierarchy of friends in a wedding party to be a little off-putting. It’s not to say I’ve never been a part of it (see: seven-time bridesmaid), but it is something that we all know can lead to hurt feelings. It puts a lot of pressure on those friendships, and a ton of responsibility on certain individuals. I also think that we should all be leaving more space for our besties to decline our ask for them to be in our wedding party, or to take on the job of MOH. The costs and time can really add up, and sometimes it’s just not the right thing for someone we love.
That said, I’m sorry you’re in this conundrum. My guess, after reading your letter, is that you’re both a pretty ‘on it’ human (because you see and feel affected by these communication delays and struggles in your closest friends), and you’re a kind-hearted and understanding person (because you gave space for both of your friend’s personality differences and life circumstances instead of just shaming their flakiness).
What I also hear in your letter is that you desire a Maid of Honor who will be able to handle it all. Someone who can prioritize planning showers/ bachelorette parties/ etc. without going AWOL. Someone who can help coordinate a group text with your seven besties, and not ghost during a busy week of work. And it definitely sounds like your friends, wonderful as they may be, are not be equipped to support you in the Maid of Honor role, at least not alone.
So, what are your options? Option one—as you said, you could forego the Maid of Honor role entirely. You could just have seven bridesmaids who love you tons and can (at least try to) share the stress and planning duties equally. I think this is a great idea. (Maybe I’m biased… it’s what I did with my little wedding party.) Pro-tip: be upfront with them. When you ask your friends to be a part of your wedding party, share with them that you decided to have seven equal bridesmaids and not put added responsibility on any one person. Share your expectations and wishes openly, and gently encourage them to all work together over the coming months on any tasks. It doesn’t feel good to anyone to take on a role, only to find out months later that it’s going to cost than $1400 for an extravagant trip to Miami (that they need to plan) and a $300 pair of shoes… all while going to medical school or working the night shift.
Option two, if you would really like to have your two lifelong friends have a highlighted role and title, is to have co-Maid-of-Honors. In this case, I’d take your two best gals out for coffee or have them over for a glass of wine (even if it’s on Zoom) and pop the question. Tell them both honestly, and with love, that you adore them both but know they both have super busy lives and you didn’t want to make your wedding a huge stress for one of them—so, you hope that they will share the gig and stand next to you, together, throughout your wedding planning journey. This way, theoretically, you still have someone (two someones, actually) who can be the point people for plans, but it’s less likely that they’ll both be MIA at the same time.
And option three is to give one or two of your longtime besties an honorary title of MOH, while still employing your whole crew of friends to rally and work together on all the planning and coordinating efforts. It’s not in any rule book that the MOH has to do it all alone. (Okay, it probably is in a rule book somewhere, but not in ours and that sounds outdated AF.)
TL;DR: Be honest with your wedding party, and yourself, about your expectations for what’s to come. Leave space for your friends to possibly pass on the opportunity to take on those responsibilities if they aren’t a good fit for their lives right now (see: medical school)—it doesn’t mean they don’t love you dearly.
What do you think APW? How have you handled wedding party groups, MOH roles, and feeling like your friends might not be up to the task?