wedding advice

What Does a Maid of Honor Do?

Photo by  Colin Maynard  on  Unsplash

Photo by Colin Maynard on Unsplash

You’ve asked your friends to be your bridesmaids and they’ve all said yes! And you’ve asked your best to be your maid of honor and she said yes as well. But then she asks you “what does a maid of honor do?” And you look at her blankly and you both start laughing because you have no clue and obviously neither does she. 

Has this happened to you? Does it sound familiar? Unless you've been a part of a wedding or your friend is married, there's a good possibility that the role of the maid of honor may be a bit unclear.  Below I share my opinion on what I believe a maid of honor does that's different from your bridesmaids. 

A maid of honor is an unmarried woman who is the chief attendant of a bride.  If your friend is married, she's then called your matron of honor.  Regardless of her marital status, she is basically your right-hand gal.  She’ll help you organize bridal party activities and she’ll help plan your bridal shower and bachelorette party.  She’s your go-to person when you need to vent and she’ll hopefully be your voice of reason when you’re acting a little too close to a bridezilla.  

A maid of honor can be your best friend, your sister, your cousin, or any woman who you feel is close to you and can help support you during your wedding journey.  Sometimes, the role of a maid of honor can be exhausting and more stressful than initially intentioned.  So in support of your maid of honor, it’s good to know what kind of expectations you have for her before she agrees to the role. Because sometimes, your best friend may want to be your maid of honor, but she’s got a lot going on in her own life, that she won’t be able to commit to helping you.  It'll save you both headaches and heartaches if your expectations are stated right up front so she can decide if she'll accept the role or opt for the role of bridesmaid instead.  

Here are some of the basic duties a maid of honor traditionally helps with.  Keep in mind, this list is one I've curated over the years and you may or may not need help in all of these areas, but its a good starting point for you to go by:

A maid of honor can:

  • Help plan your bridal shower.  If she's available, she may plan your bridal shower on her own or she'll recruit your bridesmaids to help out. Depending on how involved you want to be, she can be more of an assistant to you or take full control of the planning and execution of the bridal shower leaving you to enjoy yourself. 
  • Attend your wedding dress fittings with you.  She knows your style and can be supportive, yet honest, on what looks good on you.
  • Be the designated point-of-contact when it comes to organizing bridal activities such as bridesmaid fittings, spa days, and wedding day prep.
  • Plan your bachelorette.  Again she’ll have the bridesmaids to assist her, but this weekend is typically a surprise for you. To be helpful, it would be good to give her a list of things you're willing or wanting to do and things that are a definite no-no for you. 
  • Fill in for your fiancé when he’s unavailable to meet with vendors.  It’s always good to have one other person with you when meeting with vendors (to get a second opinion).
  • Help you create any DIY items for your wedding.  This can also be something you can recruit your bridesmaids to help with.  You can make a party out of it by getting take-out and having your girls bring drinks as you get crafty. 
  • Be your go-to woman on your wedding day.  She’ll help lift your dress when you need to go pee and she’ll tell you when it’s time to touch-up your makeup during your reception.  
  • Be your support system. She loves you and can support you through the roller coaster of planning a wedding, but she also can help you stay in check when you're about to blow your budget and make you laugh through another meltdown.  

A maid of honor's duties is often limitless.  You may not realize how much you'll come to depend on her opinion or her presence as you go through your wedding planning journey.  It's good to have an idea of what you expect from your maid of honor that way if she can't be there for you in the manner that you need, you can ask someone who will.  I've seen it happen many times where the maid of honor wasn't the bride's best friend but rather a good friend who's single and was able to devote her time to helping the bride in planning her wedding.  The bride's best friend was happy because the pressure was off for her and she could be supportive as a bridesmaid and the bride was happy because she had someone who was able to give her the time and attention she needed. And being happy during your wedding planning is what's important.

Back to you. Did this list help you?  Have you chosen your maid of honor yet?  Do you know what kind of duties you need here to help you with?  Share with us below! 

Tips for Creating Your Guest List

Planning your guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning.  Why is that?  Because everyone loves going to weddings.  Seriously.  Rarely do you find anyone not wanting to attend a wedding.

I have been to over 50 weddings in my life so far - weddings I’ve planned, coordinated and attended as a guest.  And to this time, I still don’t tire of them.  There’s something about weddings that make it a fun gathering that people want to be a part of. 

However, whether you are on a limited budget or you have limited space at your venue, deciding who will attend your wedding can be difficult.  Do you want it to be an adult-only wedding?  If you allow kids, should you put a limit as to how many families you invite?  Do you let your parents invite their friends?  Or your siblings invite their friends? Do you need to invite your coworkers?  How about your college friends? High school friends? Childhood friends?  Or how about, the friends whose weddings you've attended, but you haven’t been in contact with them in years?

Feeling overwhelmed yet?  There are so many questions and soo many people.  How do you get a grip on who to invite without wanting to tear your hair out?

Here are my tips for getting organized when it comes to your wedding:

Tip #1: Start a list. Take out a piece of paper and for the next week, you and your fiancé will write down every name of every person you may want to have attend your wedding.  You can open this up to your immediate family as well (especially if you are close to your siblings' friends or consider your parents' friends to be honorary aunts and uncles).  I say take a week because, at your initial writing, there are names you will most definitely forget.  

Tip #2: Know how many people you can invite. Then invite 10% more than that number because anywhere between 10-20% of your invited guests will decline.  

Tip #3: Go to excel or grab three sheets a paper.  I say excel because I like the convenience of it or you can start a sheet in Google docs and it can sort, alphabetize, add/subtract easily. But if you prefer paper and pen grab the three sheets of paper.  Label each sheet “List A - must have, List B - would be great to have, List C - no biggie if they’re not there.” 

Tip #4: Start placing names on each sheet.  This is definitely something for you and your fiancé to do together.  Don’t tackle this alone because you’ll end up putting all your people on List A and his people on List B or C. Haha just kidding.  Maybe not.  But it’s good to do this with your fiancé, especially if there are guests your immediate family want to have there but they end up on List B or C. 

Tip #5: Don't do it all at once. If you try to do it all in one sitting, I guarantee by the time you get to the bottom of the list, you're going to be so drained you won't care what list each person is put on.  So do a little bit, take a break, and come back to it when you can.  Of course, don't put it off for too long; the last thing you want to do is send your invitations last minute. 

Bonus Tip: Look at your List C.  Depending on your relationship with the people in this group, you can save yourself some potential headaches and tell them (in-person ideally) that you may not be able to invite them to the wedding. You can give an explanation like we don't have enough space, we're on a limited budget, etc. Give a reason that's genuine.  They'll understand. However, if they’re people that live far away or you’re not close to them, you don’t need to say anything, and just send them a wedding announcement after. 

Hopefully creating your guest list can now be stress-free!  Did you find these tips helpful?  Share with us below how you created your guest list? 

What happens when you lose your photographer

Photo by  Brooke Lark  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Recently I received an email from a soon-to-be-bride with a dilemma. Here’s her story:

Dear Rachelle,

I'm very upset right now. I got engaged a while before my cousin. I have had my wedding planned for over a year now for June 23, 2018. She just recently got engaged last summer and set her date for sometime late October. Well, she is good at photography and agreed to do my wedding. The only fee was to pay to have the pictures printed. That's so cheap and took a really big burden off of me!! Well, because they are "so in love" they bumped their wedding up to the week before mine so now she can't do my pictures!! She knew about this since I set the date and knew I couldn't afford a photographer... I now have to hope I find someone in my friends list that had a hidden talent for photography or go with crappy photos... or should I move my date back a whole month?

Sincerely, Upset. 

This is definitely a difficult situation and while it may not necessarily be a cousin, it can happen where a photographer or another vendor may not be available at the last minute.  That's why it's important to have a contract and to read the fine lines of a contract, especially in relation to cancellations.  But for a friend or family member agreeing to be your photographer and then backing out the last minute, it can be incredibly frustrating.  And of course, this situation is even more difficult because she has moved up her wedding date a week before yours.  

The first thing I want you to know, it's okay to be angry.  This is incredibly frustrating and if screaming or having a good cry session will help you feel better, I say go for it.  Don't hold it in.  But once you've let all your anger out, it's time to get busy. I also want you to know that everything will work out for the best.  Your cousin may have been the most affordable option but that doesn't mean she is the only option for you.  Here are a couple of suggestions to start:

  • Look at local photographers. Sometimes photographers have assistants that may be starting out and may be willing to do your wedding at a discount
  • Look at local colleges. Same thing as above where a local college student may be willing to do your wedding for free as part of a class assignment or for a testimonial
  • Ask other friends or family members. There may be a friend of a friend who’s an aspiring photographer who may be willing to photograph your wedding for free
  • Look at city classes. There are classes your city offers where residents can take photography lessons. Photographers in those classes may be willing to do your photos for free or at a discounted rate
  • If you have a wedding planner ask them for a recommendation.  If you don't have a wedding planner ask your venue if they have a preferred vendor list or if any of your other vendors like your florist or DJ to see if they know of any photographers. 
  • Rearrange your budget and pay for someone to do your wedding. There are lot of photographers out there that do different packages for different rates.  This will take time as you'll have to find your local photographers, interview them, and find one that you feel understands you and your wedding vision. 
  • Forgo a photographer and do something untraditional. Before smart phones and DSLR cameras, back when professional photographers were the only ones that would have the multi lens and high-def capabilities, people would use disposal cameras. They would place a couple disposable cameras at guest tables and have guests take photos all night long and then collect the cameras at the end of the night. It’s completely untraditional and a throwback idea but it would be a fun spin to your wedding and your guests will enjoy it 

These are just a few ideas for you to think about that can help start you off in searching for a photographer.  I wouldn't really recommend moving your wedding day, especially if you have your other vendors already set for June 23rd and if your guests know that June 23rd is your wedding day.  It's easier to find one vendor rather than asking everyone to change the date.  Not to mention, vendors and the venue may already be booked. 

The important thing to keep in mind as you start the search for your photographer is that the photos help commemorate the day and allow you to look back on your wedding; however, they are not the reason for your wedding. The day is about you and your partner. Make it everything you can. And if you think out of the box for ways to make your photographs happen, you may be surprised what the results may turn out.  I wish you the best of luck and I hope you let us know how it goes.