Help! My Maid Of Honor Won’t Commit To Actually… Being At The Wedding.

I don't want to offend her

Q:DEAR AMY,

I was introduced to my wonderful fiancé by my then-best friend and her husband. It’s a couple of years later, and we’ll be married this October.

I had asked my friend to be my maid of honor in acknowledgement of her finding me the perfect partner. At the time we didn’t see each other a lot, but that was because we had met in school and had since gotten jobs, which made schedules harder to coordinate. I figured this would be a way to help us bond and to celebrate how much she’d influenced my life.

At the time she accepted, although her enthusiasm (in hindsight) was somewhat lacking. The biggest red flag for me was when I excitedly sent her what I liked as a bridal party dress option, and she said that she wasn’t sure she’d even be here for the wedding, as she and her husband are looking at moving out west. Since, I’ve gently tried to ask if she’d rather one of my other bridesmaids take over… and she said she felt like she could do it but it was up to me.

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Maid Of Honor Duties (And What’s Not In The Job Description)

I’m an old-ish bride who isn’t a party girl, but I would still like a bridal shower and bachelorette party. At this point, I don’t feel confident that she’ll plan either… and I still don’t have a committed response to if she’ll even make it on our big day.

I don’t want to offend her but… I need to know what to do. Please help!

—lonely

A:DEAR lonely,

I’m going to cut right to the chase here. The minimum required duty of being a member of a wedding party is a commitment to attending the wedding. We talk a lot about how you can’t, say, make a bridesmaid pay for a seated dinner for one hundred. But attend the wedding? That’s the whole job description. This woman can’t or won’t do that. That means you have every right to tell her you understand, you’ll be happy to see her as a guest if she can make it, and pick someone else.  But also if the answers were ever that simple, my job would not exist, so let’s break it down a bit as well.

Here’s the thing: making someone your maid of honor is a terrible way to help bond. It’s taking a friendship you recognize is not as close as it could be, and heaping tons of expectations and commitments and emotions on top of it. This friend sounds like she was a perfectly good friend, and she set you guys up which, awesome, but also you don’t sound particularly heartbroken at the thought of getting married without her there.  To me, that means maybe maid of honor isn’t the best role for her, and even if it is, it’s not necessarily going to strengthen a friendship that is fading.

All that being said, the minimum required duty of any member of the wedding party is attending the wedding.  When someone asks you if you will be in their wedding party, that is your time to look at your schedule and your budget and decide if you can actually go to the wedding or not! I think too often people dither around just answering the question. Can you, looking at your life as it exists today, attend this wedding? Are you willing to make attending this wedding a priority in your time and your budget? If so, you can go. If not, you can’t. But you owe your friends more than, “Well, I think so, but if I get a job overseas then no, but I won’t know until three months before, and Jeffrey might have a different wedding that weekend, so idk?” That may be an evasive way of saying no. Because sure, we could all get hit by a bus or have to arrange a hasty wedding to Prince Harry any day. But people who want to be your wedding will say, “Yes!” and then deal with their sudden marriage to Prince Harry if and when it comes up.

The good news for you is that you’ve already done the hard work of broaching the subject, and she said it’s up to you.  I’d follow up one more time and ask her if she can commit or not. (I mean, come on. Out west is not the land of dragons, they do have airports there) And if not tell her you’ll be thrilled to have her as a guest if she can make it.

And then find a really flattering way to tell your second choice for maid of honor that you want her for the job, in a way that doesn’t make her feel like sloppy seconds. Go for a “You should have been who I asked all along—live and learn” vibe. And while I’m generally not super into over the top bridesmaid asks, this is a great time to at least get her a “Will you be my maid of honor?” card, and make her feel extra loved.

—Amy March

HAVE A WEDDING QUESTION?
EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM

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