I’ve done the maid of honor thing from both sides of the aisle: I’ve been one and I’ve asked someone to be mine. So I know the costs add up fast between a dress (that you can wear again, fingers crossed!), shoes, maybe a plane ticket, a bachelorette party, a bridal shower, the time it takes to organize all of the above… you know what? I’m gonna stop there. It’s not just pricey, it’s also a ton of work, and I hope your best buddy is super crazy grateful for all the time and effort and money you’re putting into being there for them. For moments when the stress is getting to you, I’ve compiled the major benefits to keep you sane:You get to taste all the things.
I knew the part of wedding planning I’d really excel at would be cake tasting. I was not wrong. And when you’re the maid of honor, you get to cake taste, too. You can also dinner taste. I maybe possibly tracked down the drinks vendor and wine tasted as a maid of honor (this is definitely a thing, so if you start telling people about it and they say they’ve never heard of a wedding party doing this, send them my way). And I actually managed to do all this from half a country away! My commitments to friends and food are strong. If you’re in the same city as your engaged friend, I enthusiastically recommend you tag along and eat everything you are allowed to and really help narrow down the menu. If, like me, you are many states away, then track down the closest alternatives and eat them in support over the phone while the couple talks over the options. In a stressful moment, you can always return to your local bakery in the name of “helping.”
You know that updo you’ve always wanted?
Whether someone has been hired to do hair and makeup or the wedding party is tackling this job solo, this is an awesome time to get together (face-to-face or over Skype) and go through online tutorials for looks you’ve always wanted to try and never had the time/energy/boldness to really put effort into. Here are real-life things I real-life tried as maid of honor: contouring (not for me), cat eyeliner (lots of yes), fake eyelashes (changed my life), and milkmaid braids (also not for me and broke my heart to realize it). I would not have called myself make-up-ly competent before doing all this online with my best friend before her wedding, but it turns out practice really does make perfect.
You can’t imagine how memorable getting ready together is.
Obviously you can get ready with whoever you want day-of, and maybe the engaged couple wants to only get ready with each other (support!), but if you're invited to get ready together the day of the wedding, I would take it. My most cherished memory of my best friend’s wedding is helping her mom zip her into her dress and then walking her to the courthouse. We sat in a quiet, small room together while we waited for the ceremony to start. Nothing big happened during that moment. But we were together, right before she was going to get married, and I had put her shoes on her feet when she couldn’t see over her dress. It was emotional in ways I wasn’t expecting.
What goes around comes around in weddingland.
I didn’t know it when I was maid of honor for my best friend, but about a year after her emotional courthouse wedding, she was maid of honor for me. She called me every time I seem stressed, she didn’t think I was silly when I discovered a deep love for picking out tablecloths, and we of course ate more cake. The day of the wedding, after our makeup and hair were done, she had her new husband bring us garlic fries and then did dramatic readings from gossip magazines until I was in tears laughing. (There are photos of it — I have them saved to my desktop and look at them often.)
Final tally on being a maid of honor: It’s totally work, and it’s totally stressful, but in the end? Totally worth it.
Have you been a maid of honor? Had a great one? What were your favorite parts?
Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.