How to be a Maid of Honor
For Diette on her birthday.
Congratulations! One of your best friends has asked you to be her maid of honor! Here’s what you do.
1) Start planning for this in high school. Save all notes passed in class, letters sent from summer camp, and embarrassing photos. You will be glad to have these for speech planning purposes and slide shows. If you are not a natural archivist, go back in time and tell your high school self to get organized. She might be surprised to see you, but she will also be pleased to see that your skin has finally cleared up.
2) When your bride says her wedding will be in a few months, don’t act like this is crazy. Don’t remember your own sister’s wedding and the months required to test cakes, find a dress, sample food, haggle with the florist, try on shoes, and so on. She says she does not care about all that stuff! Tell her this will work out totally fine.
3) The wedding will be at the beach? No big deal. Invest in sunscreen for your transparent skin. Resign yourself to looking sweaty in all photos. After all, it’s not about you. Make this your mantra, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.”
4) Try not to have five other weddings in the same year. If you must have five weddings in the same year, try not to be single. If you can’t help being single, try to have some of them in the town where you live. If this is out of your hands, get used to apologizing to people about missing their weddings. Also, you should really have started budgeting for all these weddings about two years ago. Remember that time machine from step one? Use it again here.
5) As long as we’re on the subject of being single, you should start bolstering your self esteem now. Make a playlist of upbeat girl power tracks and get yourself a spirit animal or whatever.
6) When you go with the the bride to try on wedding dresses, take pictures of every dress from a couple of angles. Take notes about price and reactions. Also, make the bride take some goofy pictures too to keep up her spirits. Later, you can use these photos for your own amusement.
7) The ladies at the dress shop will try to push champagne on you. This is s a dirty trick to either get you drunk so that you like everything and choose the most expensive dress OR a ploy to make you spill on a pricey dress that you will have to buy. Sip on one glass only. This is an order!
8) When you attend the out of town engagement party, you will meet a lot of people. These people will all remember you, but you will remember about three of their names. Start teaching yourself memory tricks now. Note: “the one with the camera” will later turn out to be a bad memory device.
9) Get friendly with the other bridesmaids quickly. You’re going to need their help planning stuff and (spoiler alert!) getting the dress to zip up on the big day. These ladies are with you in the trenches and it’s better for everyone if you can all play nice.
10) Ask the bride what she actually wants for her bachelorette weekend. I know we all want to be drunk and embarrass the bride in some way, but you actually do want her to have fun. Hopefully, she wants something that is not lame.
11) Choose a theme for the bachelorette weekend. If you are lucky, it will fall the same weekend as the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and you can use this in many puns to your great advantage. Let the Games Begin! Olympic Rings! And so on!
12) You are allowed to embarrass the bride at least a little bit. I suggest a leotard and cut offs for maximum effect. Glitter should be involved some how.
13) For a good night out, enlist the support of strangers. Get them on your side by bringing them gifts. Stickers and medals work well in my experience. Hand them out. You want everyone in that bar to be sporting a sticker with your bride’s name. You want the other maids of honors for the other bachelorette parties to feel embarrassed by their straggly boas and genital-themed head gear.
14) Choose a bar with the kind of music you used to hear at frat parties. This will usually be a hole in the wall. But… the drinks are cheaper and people are actually dancing. WIN.
15) Things you definitely want for the weekend of the bachelorette party: multiple people with cameras, a lot of water, at least one person who is extremely motivated to go out, something that will make the bride cry, someone who is willing to give your conservative bride some lingerie that will make her blush, snack food you would not eat sober, and nasal decongestants for yourself because you will have an extremely powerful cold because the universe hates you.
16) Good news: your bride is totally low maintenance and will not register or pick bridesmaids dresses! She does not care! At first, this will sound like good news. But then you realize you are actually going to have to pick a gift and a dress on your own. Look, just engrave something for the gift and be done with that. For the dress, make a game out of it for yourself.
17) The wedding is almost upon you! Quick: start telling yourself that the bride is always right. In the coming days, she is going to be irritable even though she says she is totally cool and definitely does not care if things go wrong. She says this but she is currently delusional and you need to remember that you are dealing with someone with an altered mental status. I’m not saying she is crazy or even a bridezilla, but she will be more anxious than usual and she will snap at you when you say something totally innocent. For example, you might casually mention that she’ll need to eat something before the wedding, and she will act like you’ve said this thirty times already and you’re being really obnoxious. And you will be tempted to snap back and tell her to calm the eff down and how dare she speak to you like that, but you need to let that shizz go. For this little season, she gets to be right. She gets to be snappish without consequence. You will get your turn. Smile and nod and keep your mouth shut.
18) A corollary for Point 17… find your happy place. Go to that place in your mind when you are tempted to get puffed up and self-righteous. If the bride is really being unreasonable or abusive, you can deal with that as needed. But if she’s just straight anxious, you need to find your happy place and stay there.
19) For your speech at the rehearsal dinner, write it down. I know, I know– you just need to write down the high points and you want to appear casual when you speak so you don’t want to write it word for word. And you’re going to make fun of the Best Man when you realize he was serious about using a teleprompter app on his iPhone. But when it’s your turn and everyone is staring at you, you’re going to lose your place in your notes and stumble over your words and suddenly the Best Man will look like the smartest man alive. WRITE IT DOWN.
20) For the day of the wedding, have a survival kit prepared. Include: the bride’s favorite candy, a sewing skit, band aids, a Dr Scholl’s Rub Relief Stick for uncomfortable shoes, Listerine Pocket Mist, chalk (it helps with stains on the dress… who knew?), Pums or pepto Bismal, Advil or Tylenol, tissues, nail polish remover, a nail file, moisturizer, lip balm, deodorant, anti- bacterial spray, nail scissors, double stick fashion tape for dresses, and this deodorant removing sponge that will help with some other stains too. A bridal playlist is also appropriate.
21) While the bride is having her hair done, insist that she make a list with you of things that need to happen before you all leave the hotel. She will act like you’re being a little silly, but you’re going to be glad you have that checklist later when you’ve had too much to drink and can’t remember what you were supposed to do. Things you might consider: is there a priceless family heirloom attached to the bouquet? Does someone need to make sure it’s given back to the bride’s mother for safe-keeping? If the bride and groom are leaving for the honeymoon the next morning, how is their stuff getting home? Does someone have the cake knife? What about the veil and the dress? You need a plan! Make it now!
22) Get the bride a drink. Just one. But still. This will benefit everyone.
23) Get your own hair put up, unless you’re one of those really annoying people with perfect, thick, glossy hair. The rest of us normals are better off with a mountain of bobbi pins and hairspray shellacked on something simple and classic that will definitely not move for 8 hours and will look nice in pictures.
24) You might think that since you were trained as a therapist that you will be very good at calming anxious people. This training is worthless when you are also anxious and in the wedding. Just have a drink and keep your mouth shut and do what the bride says.
25) Carry a hanky wrapped around your bouquet. When the bride starts crying during her vows, try to be graceful when you hand it to the groom to give to her. You won’t be graceful, you’ll be awkward. But try.
26) Oh, you should have done this earlier, but if you’re picking your own bridesmaid dress, choose one with pockets.
27) You are now free to enjoy the reception! When the bride and groom have their first dance, have your camera or cell phone poised to record the whole thing. Chances are they’ll just do that awkward and really long slow song dance that makes everyone bored, but they might do a choreographed dance that they didn’t bother to warn anyone about and it will be hard later to find the whole thing from start to finish. Just get in position and hope for the best.
28) Keep your eye on the cake. If it’s humid at the wedding location, it might start leaning. The bride will probably not care, but it makes a better picture if the cake has not collapsed already.
29) You have to set an example for the other guests and dance. Do the awkward bobbing head thing if you must, but the reception is better if people dance and you need to get that ball rolling.
30) Suggest early on that the bride not throw the bouquet. We’re 31 now and that is some BS. Instead, suggest she give it to the woman married the longest.
31) Look for quiet sweet moments and snap away with your camera or cell phone. The photographer will get most of these anyway, but the bride might hoard the pictures and not show them to you because she’s computer illiterate and so you will need to rely on yourself.
31) After the reception, get late night pizza with the bridesmaids and assorted significant others. Resist the urge to tell them this is just like the end of The Avengers where they all went for chicken shawarma. You’re a huge nerd and these people probably already know that, but they don’t need to know how big of a nerd you are.
32) Book a flight the next day that will be at a reasonable hour. Do not pick off all your nail polish in the airport lounge. Take the next day off work and spend the day alternately sleeping and watching crappy TV.
Happy birthday, Spaghetti. Your wedding season was a great time and I loved spending so much time with you this year. Here’s hoping 31 will be equally awesome!