Q: Dear Amy,
My good friend from college is getting married this fall, in a wedding where I’m also friends with another bridesmaid, and her maid of honor is her best friend from junior high/high school. As a married lady, I understand the choice of a sister or longtime best friend to be a MOH, because they’ve known the bride the longest and the bride feels closest to that person. But as a bridesmaid, what do you do when the MOH doesn’t step up to her responsibilities, and the bride brushes it off as a non-issue?
The MOH doesn’t seem to be taking charge of wedding activities, as expected of her role. When we went dress shopping for the bride, the MOH made a big deal about trying on wedding accessories. She also failed to coordinate when/how all the bridesmaids were ordering their dresses (which needed to happen in a certain time window to ensure they were all the same color). This resulted in confusion that the bride had to stress out about and try to figure out, when she has enough to worry about with wedding planning. When I hinted to the bride that she should delegate the bridesmaid dress issues to her MOH, she simply brushed it off.
I’m concerned that the MOH will have a laissez-faire approach to planning the bachelorette party as well, which could result in the weekend not being the experience the bride wants. I think the bride has a blind spot to this issue and that it will continue to cause her unnecessary stress—she might be forced to plan her own bachelorette party or deal with issues in coordinating because the MOH failed to act. How can other bridesmaids help out a bride who doesn’t see that her own maid of honor is not stepping up to the plate?
– TRYING TO HELP
A: Dear tRYING,
Look, I get you. I, too, confess to being a bit of a bossy know-it-all. I know, I know, you just want what’s best for your friend and you’re good at planning and organization. Me too! But we both know sometimes those best intentions can blind you to some obvious facts.
First, there are no responsibilities of being a maid of honor. Full. Stop. A maid of honor should attend the wedding, in the attire selected, on time, sober, and hold the bouquet. Everything else is negotiable, and it’s a matter for the bride and the maid of honor to discuss. Likewise, you as a bridesmaid a) are not in charge of making the bride happy, and b) get to have all the boundaries around your own time and resources you want.
As a general rule, if the bride says it isn’t a big deal, please just listen. Either she truly means it that it does not matter to her, or she means, “Please stop making this a big deal, you’re making it harder.” I really believe a massive part of being an adult is accepting that the people you love come as they are. If the bride is working through accepting that her MOH is not going to also be her unpaid wedding planning assistant, please just let her get on with it.
In particular, this whole dress issue illustrates this point beautifully. The MOH does not have to coordinate the ordering of dresses (and, by and large, the whole order-all-together thing doesn’t matter anymore—thanks, technology). If it matters to the bride that this happens, she can organize it. Which the bride is apparently on board with, because she brushed you off when you brought it up!
I know I seem unsympathetic, but I really do hear you, especially on the bachelorette party. But I need for you to please break this down a bit. The bride’s stress? Not your problem. I know you love her, but she’s also an adult lady who is in charge of her own life. What you can do to be proactive: ask the bride if she would like you to take on a leading role in the plans, and ask her what she has in mind—and then circulate a group email with said plans and ask people to pitch in. Because, again, this is not carved in stone as the maid of honor’s job, and if the bride is cool with you stepping up, awesome! If the bride says, “Nah, MOH’s got it,” then email MOH and a) offer (enthusiastically!) to help, b) express eagerness to set a date, and c) mention that you’re concerned about budget, so you’d really love to get things planned on the earlier side so that people can figure out if/how they can make it work.
Remember, Bridesmaids is ultimately not a story of how Helen was wronged.
That shower may have been gorgeous, but the point is being a friend, not getting a perfect party planned.
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