Advice From The Editor: Picking A Maid Of Honor

Picking a maid of honor isn’t easy. Even when you think it’s easy. It’s a lesson I’ve seen many brides learn, and it can have a pretty big impact on your wedding day. So, today, I’m offering up my thoughts on how to tackle the tough decision…and why you shouldn’t always go with the obvious choice.

In general, there’s two ways the picking-a-maid-of-honor process goes. In the first, the bride doesn’t even feel the need to deliberate, because she’s got a friend (or, more likely, a sister) who has always  been slotted to fill the spot. In the second, the bride has lots of friends she likes equally and she has to figure out who to select without offending anyone else.

And here’s the thing: It can feel pretty offensive. I mean, in some ways it’s not that different than being at the playground waiting to hear whether you’ll be one of the first picks for the kickball teams. Yes, we’re older and wiser, but people still tend to think of the maid of honor as being the bride’s best friend, and that means the other bridesmaids can feel like lesser friends.

An easy remedy to that is to eliminate the position. If the group of girls you’ve chosen to be bridesmaids all love you a lot (and hopefully get along) chances are they were going to share the maid of honor responsibilities—like planning a stagette—equally. You can assign other tasks, like witnessing for the marriage certificate, as needed. As with every other area of weddings, tradition is starting to get reinvented here, and there’s no reason you can’t try something new.

Interestingly enough, the path that seems to be much harder is the one that’s initially not. It’s the easy picks who more often seem to create friction as maid of honors. Why? My guess is that they’ve been chosen because of reasons that are very relevant for a friendship, but not so much for the wedding process. You may have a great friend with whom you’ve always imagined serving as maid of honors for each other, but that doesn’t make her great at maid of honor jobs. Or you may have a sister who, naturally, you’re closest to, but that doesn’t mean she’s not someone who needs constant attention and will actually add to your list of responsibilities.

My advice is to never make a quick pick. Take a little time and consider what you’ll be wanting your maid of honor to do, and don’t let assumptions of roles (on their part or yours) factor in. Perhaps you’ll realize the maid of honor you want isn’t going to be a great helper, but you still want her to stand next to you. Or maybe you’ll realize that someone else is perfect for the position in every way, and find a gentle way to break the news to the other, more obvious, choice. Even if you don’t change anything, you’ll still be happy you took the time for consideration and you’ll be more prepared for some of the little problems that may pop up.

XO,

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