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When you're asked to be the Maid of Honor at one of your best friends' weddings, you'll probably agree without hesitation. As a good friend, you want to make sure that the bride has all the support and help she needs as she gets ready to make a huge leap of love, and to make sure she doesn't have to stress on the big day. That involves taking on a lot of responsibilities. While being the Maid of Honor is a privilege and, well, honor, it's also a very important role of support—which is why there are a number of things a Maid of Honor should not do, as well as all things she should.
Don't assume you know best.
A huge part of being a Maid of Honor is listening to others. You might have a perfect picture of how things should look or go in your head, but you have to remember two things: first, it isn't about how you want it to look or go—it's about the bride. Second, you can't control everyone.
So it's important, as the wedding approaches, to listen carefully to everyone's concerns, opinions, and plans, so that you can help coordinate all the moving pieces, and ensure that they all fit into the bride's dream wedding—which means you need to listen especially carefully to her. Assuming you know the bride so well that you can make plans without consulting her is one of the biggest things a Maid of Honor should not do as the wedding approaches.
Don't push the bride out of her comfort zone.
As a Maid of Honor, you're in a role of total support—that means everything you do should be about the bride. As I just mentioned, this means listening to her, and making sure that the plans you make fit with her needs and desires—regardless of your own tastes and opinions. You might love a bachelorette party with unlimited tequila and male dancers, but it's not your wedding. If those aren't things the bride would be completely comfortable with, it's not your job to try and push her out of her comfort zone. With all the stress she's dealing with, you want to make sure that everything you do for her eases that stress, and never creates it. You don't want the wedding to make her a bitch! No matter how well-intentioned, making plans for her based on your own dreams and desires is destined to backfire. And if you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask—it's generally better to 'ruin' the surprise but make the result perfect, than to keep the secret and cause her stress or discomfort.
Don't cause drama.
Some of the things a Maid of Honor should not do might seem pretty obvious, but they still happen surprisingly often. So it still bears saying: don't cause drama at the wedding. You're there to support the bride, and help her through any drama that might come up, so you can't afford to be part of the problem. So no matter how cute that groomsman is, don't make a scene flirting or get caught making out in the bushes.
And it's not just a matter of not making scenes—you also want to make sure you're putting fires out, not fueling them. So when tensions rise between guests or fights break out or feelings get hurt, you don't want to take sides—you want to be there to remind everyone who the wedding day is really about, and make sure others keep their drama out of the wedding, too.
Don't disparage anyone involved in the wedding.
Obviously, you want to be there to commiserate about the bride's rude in-laws or crazy relatives, and it's not like you can't be critical—but you shouldn't be disparaging of anyone involved in the wedding, tempting as it may be. Even when the bride needs to let off steam about someone, you don't want to fuel any fires or take things too far. Just letting her vent and commiserating offers incredible support and relief, without potentially causing any drama, whether between the bride and someone else, or yourself and someone else.
Weddings are stressful. For the bride, they can be really, really stressful. And stress often leads to tension, and sometimes bitter feelings arise. As the right-hand woman to the bride, you're probably going to be the first to hear about them. But the thing about stress-induced feelings is that they tend to dissipate once the stress is over—so even if you don't like someone, you don't want to be talking bad about them to the bride, no matter what sentiments she's expressing.
Don't postpone your duties.
As the Maid of Honor, you have a lot on your plate. Sometimes, this abundance of wedding planning responsibilities results in other getting ignored—like making your own travel arrangements, getting time off work, ordering your dress, etc. While it's important to take care of all the other important things, like booking the caterer and planning the bachelorette party, that doesn't help that much if you're causing wedding day frustration and panic because you didn't plan ahead for yourself.
So make sure, as you check off the laundry list of duties you have to help the bride get ready, that you're also checking off the list of duties you have to get you ready. Because you really don't want to have to be taking care of those last-minute, when you should be at the bride's side.
Don't get drunk at the wedding/reception.
One of the most common things a Maid of Honor should not do at the wedding is get drunk. And that might be harder than it sounds—everyone is celebrating, including yourself, and you've probably been pretty stressed since the day your bestie asked you to take on the role. So of course you're going to want to let loose and have fun. Even as those martini variations are flowing, you need to be prepared to support the bride, and that means not being too drunk to handle any situation that comes up. Even as the night winds down, until every guest is gone you should be prepared to handle any drama or issue that comes up—because it's your job to make sure that the bride doesn't have to.
Another reason over-drinking is one of the major things a Maid of Honor should not do is that you don't want to embarrass her, distract her, or steal her spotlight. You might think you can handle your alcohol, and you'll just be more fun—but if she's having to hold your hair in the bathroom or pick you up off the dance floor instead of enjoying her big day, then you're not doing your job as Maid of Honor.
Don't criticize the bride's decisions.
You might think the bridesmaids dresses are hideous, or that the swans are tacky, or even that the husband-to-be is a bum—and hey, you may be right. But it's not your place to say so. In fact, it's your job to be completely supportive of the bride's dream wedding and the decisions she's made to make it happen—no matter what. So even if you think you'll be helping, trying to change the bride's mind is something a Maid of Honor should not do.
This can be especially hard with someone that you're incredibly close to— with that kind of relationship, you're probably pretty honest and open with each other. And you want to be—but when the bride is already stressing over every detail, she needs support on her decisions, not another voice trying to influence her or make her feel bad about any aspect of the wedding, whether it's about the wedding trends she chose or the groom or the wedding dress.
Of course, this doesn't mean you have to lie if she asks for your opinion— you'll have your input on the things she needs input on, because she'll ask. And only then should you be offering any kind of criticism.
Don't forget to delegate.
Don't try to take on every task at the wedding. You need to make sure that you're able to spread some of the responsibility around, so that everything is sure to get done and no one is overwhelmed. And if the bride asks you to let her handle something, or to let someone else handle certain things so you can focus on others, you should never ignore her.
It can be tempting to prove your friendship and devotion by taking over the wedding, and trying to single-handedly make her dreams come true. But a hostile takeover of all wedding planning is not the way to be supportive. A huge part of your responsibility is simply to make sure everything gets done, not by doing it yourself, but by coordinating everyone and keeping track—because if you try to do every preparation yourself, you won't have the time to devote to the bride herself, and you'll probably end up even more stressed than her. Which is something you definitely don't want, when you're supposed to be the shoulder to lean on when things get stressful for her.
Don't get jealous or possessive.
Yes, being the Maid of Honor is a huge privilege. Yes, it means huge responsibility and a major role in the wedding at all stages. But no, it doesn't make the wedding—or the bride, or the bridal party, or the flowers, or any part of the wedding—yours. So you need to be flexible and easy-going about the wedding. If the bride asks someone else to handle the bouquets, because she knows they're very artistic, don't get upset or jealous—it's not a slight to you. You can't handle everything on your own, and you have to be able to accept that certain things are going to turn out best if you delegate to someone else, or even hire a professional. Don't look at a wedding planner or another bridesmaid as a threat to your role: you're all there for the same reason—to make this wedding happen.
And most importantly, don't get possessive of the bride herself. As her Maid of Honor, you'll probably be spending a whole lot of time with her—but not every minute. You should never make her feel guilty for spending time with other people or not spending enough with you, especially when she's as busy as a bride-to-be always is.
Don't steal the spotlight.
You probably know the bride better than just about anybody—quite probably including her spouse-to-be. That means you probably have a lot of stories you could share, or sappy things to say. But making a long, embarrassing toast about your friendship is not usually appropriate—especially given the many different friends and relatives that are likely attending the party. Funny as that time she got drunk and went skinny dipping with her spouse was, it's not something her parents need to hear about. And sincere as your feelings about her terrible ex-boyfriends might be, that's not something her new spouse needs to hear about.
You also don't want to make the night about your friendship, instead of her and her relationship. Long, sappy toasts might feel good, and prove to everyone how close you two are, but that's not what the night is about. So make sure she feels your love, but don't make the night all about you.
Don't leave the wedding.
The wedding preparations have gone on for ages, the wedding day seems like it will never end, your shoes are hurting your feet and your bachelorette party hangover lasted until the wedding champagne came out... so understandably, you'd like to go home. But even as the night is winding down and guests are leaving, one of the things a Maid of Honor should not do is abandon the bride. Even if it doesn't seem like she needs you, it's your job to stick around for any last-minute needs she may have—including getting the last few drunk guests into taxis, and being there to support her as her own tiredness and stress take their toll. Because the day is all about her, she can't just decide to leave—so more than anyone, the long and busy days are going to be catching up with her. It's important for you to stick around to be a shoulder to cry or lean on, and to take care of any last wedding details so that the bride and groom can continue with their wedding weekend plans—not wrangle straggling guests or discuss business matters with the venue.
As one of your closest friends, the bride is probably someone you would usually go to when you need to vent or complain. But for this period of time, it's important to be there to ease her complaints, without adding your own to her plate. So while you might need to vent to a neutral friend or family member, one thing a bridesmaid should not do is complain to the bride. First of all, you'll be adding to her stress, and giving her even more to deal with as she tries to pull of her dream wedding. And you want to be doing the opposite: providing supporting, and allowing her to take a deep breath. But secondly, complaining about any aspect of the wedding to the bride is going to hurt her feelings. You might hate the dress she chose for you, but you don't want to insult her by telling her about it. And you might be overwhelmed by some of your Maid of Honor duties, but complaining to her will make her feel responsible for your suffering, and the last thing you want to do is make her feel guilty about her own wedding.