How to Deal with a Disappointing Maid of Honor

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It doesn't matter if she's your sister, your best friend or both -- there's still a good chance that your maid of honor will let you down in some way during the time leading up to your nuptials. For the sake of your sanity and friendship, I certainly hope the mishap qualifies as something small and insignificant, rather than a major incident. It's one thing for her to misspell Grandma's name on her place card. It's quite another for her to fall asleep at the altar, thanks to a doozy of a tequila bender the night before.

Before you get too depressed, rest assured that many honor attendants go way above and beyond the call of duty. My maid of honor was pretty much the greatest thing since chocolate fondue, which is just about the highest compliment that I give out. She suffered through many cake tastings and catering sessions with nary a complaint (probably because her mouth was full). Even if she hadn't exceeded my expectations so much, I still like to think that we would have found a way to work through the rough patch. After all, you choose your maid of honor because you trust and value her friendship above everyone else's, so it's a safe bet you want to keep her as your bestie long after your wedding day.

Use these tips for handling delicate maid of honor situations with class, patience and a little finesse. You might salvage the friendship for the long-term, despite any hiccups along the way!

Turn a Blind Eye

Every girl has a frenemy who she fights with one day and meets for cocktails the next, with nary an awkward apology required. But some friendships are never the same following a major argument.

If your maid of honor is hyper-sensitive -- or you secretly suspect that you're being a bit of a Bridezilla -- perhaps you should consider sweeping the issue under the rug, rather than turning it into a big fiasco. Small issues will usually work themselves out. Larger concerns might require a little private sulking or a pint of ice cream (or a hot pan of brownies, if you're dealing with this author).

Denise from Fort Worth, Texas, had a maid of honor who didn't do much of anything other than show up for the wedding. Denise has since realized that she didn't behave that way out of spite -- it's just her personality type. "She has a lot of good intentions, but with a lot of failure to follow through," explains Denise. It's been 13 years since the wedding, and Denise long ago rose above the wounded feelings to embrace her friend for her particular quirks. She just won't be co-planning any parties with her anytime soon.

Lend a Helping Hand

Welcome her into the Type-A fold. But don't overwhelm her with lists and spreadsheets.
Welcome her into the Type-A fold. But don't overwhelm her with lists and spreadsheets.
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Clearly, your maid of honor has many stunning qualities, otherwise you wouldn't love her so much. Unfortunately, organizational skills just aren't her strong suit.

If you're a note-taking, list-making maniac like me, seize this opportunity to bring her into the Type-A fold. Well, you can at least attempt to! Set regular meetings to discuss and divvy up tasks, confirm vendor appointments and share opinions. Provide her with a printed copy of her items if necessary. Sure, it might feel a little schoolmarmish, but the job has to get done, right? You can always downplay your micro-managing style with a light excuse or by poking fun at your own hyper-organized tendencies.

Be sure to keep your expectations in line with what you already know about her personality. It's unrealistic to expect too much detail or pit-bull tenacity from a free-spirited maid of honor. Instead of forcing her to tabulate RSVPs, you might try appealing to her creative senses by having her sketch floral arrangement possibilities or create a playlist for the D.J.

Be Sensitive

I doubt you'd have to delve too far into your past to remember a time that you were the odd woman out. Maybe your friend got promoted instead of you. Or perhaps everyone else got asked to the homecoming dance, while you stayed home eating bonbons with your mom.

When your maid of honor is causing you disappointment or frustration, take a minute to step into her shoes. There are a million valid reasons for her less-than-stellar performance. Maybe she's dying to walk down the aisle herself, but her boyfriend isn't on the same track. Or maybe she's already married, but her relationship is swiftly heading south.

Whatever the reason, try to remember that just because your dreams are becoming reality, hers might be way out of her reach for the moment. Try talking gently and honestly about her feelings. And always remember that, even when you're planning a wedding, friendship is a two-way street. She needs your support as much as you need hers -- maybe more.

Bring in Backup

Every president has a V.P. for a good reason. If he or she can't (or forgets to) fulfill his or her duties, there's a back-up in place. If your maid of honor is making a habit of slacking off, it might be time to call in the troops for support. In fact, many bridesmaids relish the opportunity to step up and shine!

My maid of honor expended so much effort on my bridal shower that the bridesmaids offered to take on extra tasks. One even volunteered to serve as the point person for my weekend bachelorette bonanza. If reinforcements become necessary to supplement your maid of honor's underwhelming efforts, be sure to preserve the peace between friends. Even when you feel like screaming, avoid bashing the maid of honor in front of your other attendants. Doing so will just create a lot of unnecessary drama and tension. In fact, if it's early enough in the wedding planning process, you might consider appointing an enthusiastic bridesmaid to serve as co-maid of honor.

Send a Wake-up Call

If she still doesn't get it? Get a megaphone for the ultimate wake-up call.
If she still doesn't get it? Get a megaphone for the ultimate wake-up call.
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Although it might be your bridal instinct, don't expect your maid of honor to be a mind-reader. She can't possibly live up to your expectations if she doesn't know what they are.

If you've expressed your concerns via subtle hints and e-mails, but things still aren't turning around, it's probably time to lay all your cards on the table. While your first instinct might be to shake her (really hard!) it's kinder and more legal to have a frank discussion over cocktails, ice cream or whatever treat softens her up. She might be genuinely clueless about her behavior. In that case, she'll probably be overwhelmed with regret and inclined to turn things around. On the other hand, she could be slacking off just because she's a being a bad friend. In that case, at least you'll have gotten your frustrations off your chest.

Hopefully, she'll take this discussion as a prompt to get over herself and be the maid of honor you knew she could be when you asked her to fill the role. By all means, if a brutally honest talk doesn't change her behavior, feel free to relieve her of the responsibilities and appoint someone else who will appreciate the job (did I mention I love cake tastings and pretty dresses?).

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Sources

  • "Maid of Honor: Etiquette Q&A." The Knot.com. (Oct. 3, 2010). http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/bridal-party/qa/maid-of-honor-etiquette.aspx?MsdVisit=1
  • Post, Peggy. "My Maid of Honor is Being Uncooperative. Should I Kick Her Out?" Wedding Channel.com. Nov. 24, 2009. (Oct. 3, 2010).http://weddings.weddingchannel.com/wedding-planning-ideas/wedding-etiquette/qa/peggy-post-can-i-cut-my-maid-of-honor.aspx?MsdVisit=1