For Vibrant Brides of Color

The Maid Of Honor

What the heck is she supposed to do?

What's A Girl To DO?

As the maid or matron of honor, you're not only responsible for a variety of essential little details without which the entire wedding would surely flop,but you are also expected to provide unflagging moral support. Whether you're a bride trying to guide your number-one gal or an honor attendant considering hiding under the covers for the next three months, take a look at the following Guide to make sure this honor is deserved when it's all finally over.

THE PHYSICAL PART
There are certain maid of honor duties that you will see listed under "Honor Attendant" in virtually any wedding-planning resource you pick up. Here they are, in a nutshell.

1. Captain of the Bridesmaid Team
You are the head-honcho attendant. It's your job to direct the other maids through their maidenly duties and make sure no one's dress is on inside-out on wedding day. Basically, throughout the preparations and the wedding, you're helping the bride by being the point person for all things bridesmaidal. She may call upon you to help her choose the bridesmaids' dresses (good for you, because you'll be able to put your two -- or four, or more -- cents in!). You make sure everyone makes and keeps dress-fitting appointments. Help them arrange their to-the-wedding travel plans, if necessary. Keep them abreast of parties to attend (and help host), presents to buy, jewelry to borrow. Think of the wedding day as the big performance -- you're the stage director, at least as far as the bride's attendants are concerned. Bring along extra safety-pins, hose, hair spray -- anything your team will need to look great. Check out all the maids before they head down the aisle and make sure nothing's astray.

2. Super Hostess
It's usually your job to host a bridal shower, tea, luncheon, or wedding-day breakfast. If the bride's family intends to host all the prewedding festivities, offer to help, and make sure to attend all the parties (or at least as many as you can!). If there are no showers planned, call on the other bridesmaids to help you plan one. At the parties, you can be the one to record the gifts the bride receives, pass around the sandwiches and help make sure the bride has fun.

3. Wedding Tour-de-force
Your hostess duties extend, in modified form, to the wedding. You may help show the guests where to sit, tell them where to put presents, explain why they shouldn't disturb the bride right now. It's your chance to tell everyone what to do -- politely, of course! During the ceremony, you'll walk down the aisle before the bride and hold the groom's ring. You'll also arrange the bride's veil and train once she's up front, and hold her bouquet for her while she says her vows. Depending on how formal the affair is, you may stand in the receiving line next to the groom. During the dancing portion of the evening, you will most likely get to dance with the best man -- hope he's cute! If no one is dancing and the bride is afraid her guests are having an awful time, go ahead and get things rolling by hitting the dance floor yourself. You should also be on hand to help the bride remove her headpiece and bustle her train.

If the bride happens to dissolve into a puddle of tears in the bathroom at some point during the festivities, you should be at her side with the Kleenex. Which brings us to the other, equally important role of the maid of honor -- emotional support.

4. THE EMOTIONAL PART
Whether you're her sister or best friend, chances are the bride chose you because she feels closer to you than to practically anyone else in the world. Different brides-to-be react to wedding stress and expectations in different ways. It's your job to be what you already are -- a trusted friend, a good listener, and a smart advisor.

5. Be There to Listen
Even if you can't perform all of the physical tasks listed above (because you live in a different city, or happen to be doing your medical-school rotations during the wedding planning), make time to talk. While another bridesmaid can host the shower, no one else can understand like you do. Let the bride know she can talk to you about any wedding doubts or fears or joys. You're not going to run to her groom or mother and "tell." If the bride isn't talking, ask questions. Take the lead. Whether it's about the wedding plans or the marriage, make sure she knows she has someone with whom she can share her thoughts. Even if she seems to dwell on the same subjects repeatedly, keep listening.

6. Keep Her Laughing
For the stressed-out bride, laughter can be as effective as venting. If you're not side-splittingly funny yourself, take the bride out to a funny movie. Share some great joke you heard. Make plans for a bridesmaids-only night at a comedy club. Get her a pair of tickets to a funny play. Despite the solemnity of the pending occasion, there are times when being a great friend means taking everything a little more lightly.

7. Reduce Stress
Wedding planning can, on occasion, bring out the worst in people. If the bride and her family are fighting about the flowers or arguing over the alcohol, you can help by maintaining an objective perspective. While you shouldn't engage in the struggle yourself, you may be able to reduce the stress by reminding the bride of her priorities (the marriage itself). Don't get involved in gossip, which tends to exaggerate any perceived slight. Instead, offer steady support and a rational perspective.

By taking care of the physical side of the job and offering the emotional support of listening, talking, laughing, and occasionally changing the subject, you will perform flawlessly and your best friend will love you even more for it. Good luck!

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