Q: When choosing my bridesmaids, I knew I never wanted to have to choose a maid of honor. It is a tradition that inadvertently forces you to rank your friends. For this reason, I couldn’t choose just one, so I chose two. Admittedly the two of my friends who are closest to me are not the most organized or responsible. And this is not just me shit-talking; they have said so themselves multiple times. My thinking was that the two of them together would be able to handle the responsibilities inherent to the title maid of honor.
I have a third closest friend who I will call Kelly, and she is the total opposite when it comes to organizing and taking care of business. This friend has stepped up in a big way since day one. When I first got engaged, she sent me a gift box of planning tools, she has suggested and gone with me to bridal shows, she has constantly been on the hunt for wedding stuff, and she is always my first go-to for style and etiquette advice. After awhile I started to realize that she should have been the one with the MOH title all along, while the other two expressed outwardly their doubts about being able to live up to the task.
Last week Kelly called me up and confronted me about the biggest mistake I have made in this process. When asking my girlfriends to be in my wedding party, I sent out cards: one said “maid of honor” and the rest said “bridesmaid.” I had asked my maids of honor in person, so I discarded the maid of honor card… or so I thought. It turns out I had sent the “maid of honor” card to Kelly, and this whole time she has been acting under the guise of her being the third maid of honor. To make matters worse, she not only found out by reading her title on our wedding website, but she had also posted a picture of the card on Instagram, which I had seen but didn’t really “see,” clearly. She let me know that she had felt “taken advantage of” and unappreciated, mostly because the actual MOHs were only taking her help in planning as just an offer instead of a serious plan of action. Over a two hour conversation I poured my heart out with apologies and gave her the honest explanation that I carelessly fucked up, there was no good rhyme or reason for it but I was so, so sorry.
She said I was forgiven, and she would “get over it quickly,” but I am struggling with knowing how to proceed. Before this happened I would text her frequently asking her opinions and thoughts on different wedding related things and now I am afraid to proceed like normal without feeling like I am being burdensome or just downright annoying to her. I also don’t know whether I should just give her the title and have three MOHs or give her the intended title of bridesmaid, and therefore relieve her of any further planning responsibilities.
We are three weeks away from the bachelorette party, and I know that she is already knee deep in helping with the planning. She mentioned during our conversation that she had a heavy hand in planning certain aspects of the party, and she would continue to “have my back” in picking up the slack where the other girls have slacked. I have since let the other girls in on what happened, and they expressed that they feel as awful as I do. The three of us want to do everything in our power (especially me) to make this right.
A: Dear Anonymous,
Looks like you’ve got yourself three maids of honor! Seriously, give her the title (in addition to the other two. You don’t just snatch that away because they’re not great at event planning).
I know you don’t need me to tell you, but this is a really big oops. She thought she was given a really special place of honor. And oof, finding out she was mistaken can’t be anything but really hurtful and embarrassing for her. You won’t be able to undo all of that, even with all the lengthy apologies and the special titles and the floweriest of speeches. But you can at least try to fix the part where she’s feeling a little used.
Picking a maid of honor isn’t a matter of picking the friend who’s the best at planning stuff. You’re choosing who you want to honor. Which is exactly what you did, and would’ve been totally fine, if it wasn’t for that (huge! honestly, I’m still cringing) stationery flub. So don’t get me wrong here, you’re not making her maid of honor because it turns out she’s well suited for the job. This isn’t some elaborate audition where you give a part to the one with the best skill set. Make her maid of honor because she thought she was fulfilling that role already, and because in doing so, she’s been a really great friend to you. You’re honoring how awesome she’s been in stepping up, in being someone you can rely on, answering your panicky texts and giving great advice. Those are the earmarks of a really great friend! One you might want to go out of your way to pay tribute to during your wedding, with a special title, for example.
It’ll still be awkward, yeah. She may feel like you’re only asking her out of obligation, and she might still feel weird about how much planning she’s already done. But hopefully you can make it clear just how much you’ve appreciated her already, and gently ask her how much she’d like to be involved in the planning moving forward.
And then tell those other two to step it up. Not because they owe it to you by nature of the title. Because they owe it to her after leaving it all on her shoulders.