We’re coming to the end of the 2014 wedding season—which means that a whole new slew of engaged couples and their bridal parties are gearing up for the 2015 wedding season! Most of us will end up in a bridal party at some point during our twenties and thirties, and some of us may even experience the “27 Dresses”-esque burnout that seems to be becoming an issue like never before. When it comes to participating in a bridal party, there is a lot required. You must sacrifice time, money and expend lots of emotional and physical energy. All this said, it is also becoming more acceptable to reject the request to take on the role of bridesmaid, so if asked, make sure you can truly commit without becoming bitter and resentful toward the bride-to-be. Maids (or Matrons) of Honor have an even more important role in the bridal party. As the leader of the bride’s support system, she is traditionally responsible for everything from throwing a fabulous bridal shower, to being an emotional support system when things (and they will) go haywire.
The maid of honor is most often sister or best friend to the bride, and unfortunately sometimes the closer the relationship, the harder it can be to celebrate the other’s happiness. If the maid of honor wants, but doesn’t have marriage in her sights yet, her own relationship drama (or lack thereof) can become magnified. This makes it very difficult to celebrate and share in the bride’s excitement. Another issue that is common when women are close is believing that the groom isn’t good enough. When you think your sister or friend is absolutely brilliant, it’s hard for a man to ever measure up. There’s a reason why mother-in-laws are notorious for harassing brides—they’re never good enough for their sons! Friends and sisters can fall into this same trap. If there really is a problem with the husband-to-be, it should of course be addressed. But if it’s just partiality to the bride, it’s important to try your best to let go of any preconceptions and see the groom through her eyes. Only then can you genuinely celebrate her happiness with her.
Brides need A LOT of support and encouragement. Getting married is one of the biggest transitions most people will make, and it’s always easier to make transitions with loved ones by your side. A great maid of honor will be there for the bride throughout the entire process, giving advice when appropriate or as a shoulder to cry on when needed. Many brides need reassurance and maids of honor should give that freely. It doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s making a mistake or isn’t sure that she should go through with the wedding, often it’s just anxiety that accompanies change. However, sometimes it is a sign of serious doubt, and the maid of honor should be cautious and delicate if she senses those feelings from the bride. It’s the maid of honor’s job to make the bride feel comfortable coming to her with any problem, emotional or logistical. Maids of honor should also offer their support in practical ways as well. The most helpful thing my maid of honor did for me was completely take care of my wedding invitations. It was a huge relief and weight off of my shoulders. She was able to look at my situation, discern what I needed help with and do her best to support me.
Maids of honor are also the unofficial wedding coordinators. They begin by helping the bride make plans for the location, food and music. They offer advice on gowns, hair and make up and flowers. The maid of honor usually throws the bride a bridal shower and/or bachelorette party as well. On the day of the wedding, they are there to help make sure everything goes smoothly. A wonderful maid of honor helps the bride get ready, holds her bouquet for her, organizes and directs guests and gifts, and is an official witness of the marriage for the license. She also gives a toast to the bride and groom during the reception. These are all very small things, but together, take a lot of effort and time and are vital to the ease of the wedding day. The bride should be able to rely on her maid of honor to be there to help her organize and be ready for any problem that might arise. This also means taking your queues from the bride herself and supporting her decisions. So wear any bridesmaid dress she picks out excitedly, don’t judge her first dance song and don’t make her feel guilty for not including something she doesn’t like or can’t afford.
Perhaps the most important role of the maid of honor is to help the bride relax and enjoy her wedding day! Weddings can be one of the most stressful times for a woman and to have a friend or sister there helping you along the way, eases anxiety and makes the entire process more enjoyable. Whether that means showing up with champagne that morning, or having a toast filled with jokes, or busting out your moves on the dance floor when guests are reluctant to get the party going, only you can sense the individual needs of the bride and the particular wedding. This also means that you need to take time to relax. You can’t be there for the bride, if you’re not already there for yourself. Treat yourself to some alone time before big events like the shower and wedding to give you time to relax and recharge. By taking care of yourself you can avoid any bitterness or resentment you might be tempted to feel when spending so much time doing things for another person. Remember to focus on the celebration and joy of those around you and allow it to be infectious in the best possible way.
Cara Rae is a twenty four year old wife, living with her husband and her cat in a 5th wheel somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. When she’s not traveling around the country, she finds her home in northern California. She spends most days sewing, practicing yoga, baking and compulsively adding things to online shopping carts. Most of her evenings are spent playing pinochle with her husband or reading a book with a glass of wine by her side. She adores traveling, Harry Potter, any book by N.T. Wright, and eating lots of ice cream.