• Other Friendship Advice

My Disappointing Maid of Honor

Published: August 22, 2014 | Last Updated: April 2, 2024 By | 18 Replies Continue Reading
What do you do when you have a disappointing maid of honor who doesn’t seem to share your excitement about the wedding?

When I received this letter about friends, weddings and maid of honor etiquette, I immediately turned to my friend and colleague, wedding expert Sharon Naylor, for her sage advice.

QUESTION

Hi,

I have been friends with “Suzie” since the first day of college. Now, we are 30-year-old career-driven women who still have very similar interests and passions. Suzie’s job is a bit more demanding than mine, so I am often flexible with her when she has to cancel or arrive late for plans.

When I got engaged two months ago, I was thrilled and asked her to be my maid of honor. She seemed very happy and accepted.

However, I have been finding things that used to not be a big deal are bothering me. For example, I haven’t seen her since before I got engaged because of her work schedule. She has canceled three times after we had made plans. Also, when I asked her if a date worked for her for my bridal shower, it took two more follow-up emails to get a response from her.

I know she is busy, but she’s turning out to be a disappointing maid of honor. I know that if I were not getting married, being flexible with her schedule would be fine. I guess my question is, how do I deal with my expectation of her as a maid of honor with the reality that she may not have the time or feel the excitement I feel?

Signed, Jen

ANSWER

Hi Jen,

It sounds like Suzie hasn’t changed. You’ve long known her to be extra busy and to have a pattern of not being able to meet up with you on a regular basis. What’s great is part of your question: You say that you need to manage your expectations of what Suzie can do. That’s very wise of you. You hold the power to solve this problem.

One thing in your letter raised a red flag: You said, “…she may not…feel the excitement I feel.” Given that Suzie has a pattern of being hard to pin down for social visits and can be slow to respond at times, I caution you not to assume she’s not excited for you or about being your maid of honor.

Think about when you get to talk with her, on the phone or in person, when you’ve heard her happy and excited for you. That is likely very, very real. If her workload has her frazzled and left her with little time to socialize, she’s not in the best place to SHOW her excitement. And when a friend is quiet, we can project all kinds of negative assumptions that likely only exist in our minds.

So here is what I suggest:

Contact Suzie via phone (if that’s all that’s possible right now) or in person—not via email, where meanings can get lost in the black-and-white of type without any voice inflection or body language that shows true caring.

Explain to her that you admire her work ethic and dedication to her job, but:

“I’m finding that my own stress levels are causing me some anxiety about how long it takes for you to get back to me about essential wedding and bridal shower planning. I know you’re busy, but as I’m making plans, other people are depending on me to provide answers, book plans and take all the steps necessary to plan my wedding events well. I don’t want to encroach on your worktime, nor become an annoyance to you if I keep emailing you.

You’re a very important friend to me, and I’d rather nip my frustrations in the bud by asking you if there’s a time in the morning or at night when we can connect more easily? Or can we make a plan for a weekly check-in call that works with your schedule?” (DON’T say ‘your busy schedule,’ since that can sound sarcastic in some cases!) “Let’s work out a plan that gets us more connected, so that this planning time goes more smoothly.”

Stick to the goal of creating more connections with her, being considerate of her schedule, and let her participate in finding the solution. She may tell you that you can reach her during her morning commute between 7am and 8am. You’ll then adjust to what she’s named as a window to reach her.

Again, don’t create extra problems by assuming she doesn’t care. She may simply be among the many overworked people who can’t connect with the people they’d love to be with for fear of risking a job and livelihood.

Then, it’s up to you to organize what you’d like to discuss with her for those connection times. Don’t ‘break the rules’ by emailing her off-schedule with a ‘just one more thing’ email that can become annoying and make her feel like you don’t respect her boundaries.

Her experience as a maid of honor may be one of minimal involvement, and that’s what she assumed would be the case at your wedding. OR, she might never have been a maid of honor before and doesn’t know how central she is to the planning.

If Suzie continues to be too hard to reach, even with a plan, and if it causes you too much stress, you might choose to offer her an Out:

“I feel I’m being too annoying trying to connect with you, and I don’t want to strain our friendship nor cause annoyance to you. If you’d like to be a bridesmaid instead, it’s perfectly okay. I’d never want you to resent me.”

She’ll either accept, perhaps relieved, or she may say that’s not at all what she’d like (and maybe apologize for making it seem that way.) Or, there’s a risk that she may be offended, which — when you’re a bride — can happen with anyone at any time, over anything. If she gets angry or lashes out, then the sad fact is that she’s not feeling ultra-close to you, and maybe doesn’t value the friendship the way you do. So this may be a time to wish her well, and spend time with friends who fit more naturally into your world.

Sharon Naylor*


Sharon Naylor, author of 1001 Ways to Save Money and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding

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Category: Bridezillas and other monsters

Comments (18)

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  1. VC- MATRON OF HONOR DRAMA says:

    [Message deleted at request of poster]

  2. former bride says:

    Hi Jen, your post touched my heart. I got married last year and my wedding ended up being an unexpected moment where I reevaluated who I wanted in my life for the long-term.

    A little bit about me– I’ve struggled with friendships throughout my life. My childhood was centered around my mother’s depression and my father, who expresses feelings through anger and detachment. I was very isolated growing up and unfortunately, my parents didn’t have the skills to give me the confidence to build healthy friendships.

    As a result, I have a lot of anxiety around making friends. I struggle with fears of rejection and shame. In the past, I only became friends with those who have pursued friendships with me. I tried to maintain friendships with people who treated me poorly. I played it safe so I could avoid being rejected, but that meant I was passive in my own friendships. I took up very little space, aimed to please and was very, very afraid of making others angry/critical.

    When I got engaged, me and my now husband decided to have a wedding party. Most of my friends (a couple of college friends, a couple of post college friends, some cousins) ended being really supportive, loving and joyful. It was exactly what I needed (especially since my parents decided to be themselves and were negative and critical of my husband… who they like a lot!!!). I cried a lot.

    Unfortunately, I had two friends who weren’t so great. They actually teamed up and complained about my wedding to our broader community of friends. When we went out to lunch, they bullied me. When I tried to have a heart to heart, one of them said that I was selfish, that I was burdening others and had to realize that people had other things going on in their lives.

    In my defense (for example)– being that I was used to taking up little space in my friendships, I had done all the work for my bridal shower. I set up the contact list, picked the restaurant and got my MIL and mom to pay for it.

    Of course, their complaining and resentment should not have come as a surprise to me. My two girlfriends are workaholics who feel that they only deserve attention when they are working like crazy or constantly serving others. That means, though, their needs never get met. Then they end up getting negative, critical and etc. Public appreciation is important to them but I couldn’t offer that to them because I was dealing with deep and very sad family issues.

    I stopped talking to one of the girlfriends before my wedding and stopped talking to the other after my wedding. It has been hard on me. Our community of friends has changed completely. THEY are now best friends! On the one hand, I couldn’t been happier. The friends I now keep are supportive, loving and don’t criticize me. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel like an outsider. I definitely feel envious. It’s going to take time to forge relationships with new friends but now I’m taking the initiative to pursue friends that I think are worthy of my time.

    Your MOH should be returning your emails. You deserve to be one of her top priorities. Even if she can’t do all her MOH duties, you deserve her attention and excitement. You should take up all the space you need. We’ve all been in wedding parties, and it’s really hard work, but you do it because you care and love your friend.

  3. mara says:

    Being in weddings gets old real fast, even when it is for a close friend. It’s not an honor, it is a job. Your friend has a life and her own work, stresses, and things that are consuming. She did say yes and I’m sure cares about you, so make it as easy as possible. It’s probably not as exciting to her as it is to you. Maybe it is a headache to her, or just not a priority, balancing this with the other things going on in her life, even if she loves you! It’s not just standing up the day of the wedding or offering support, it’s often months of emails and commitments and planning, and can drive even close friends apart. The nicest thing one of my friends ever did was not have a wedding party.

    • Ms Nichols says:

      This is a tricky board to comment on with a phone so please bear with me….if I’m repeating I apologize.

      I’m sorry but in response to some of these comments about being a MOH isn’t an honor but a job sound a bit selfish to me. Yes, its a job but an honorable job and it is up to the one being asked to figure out like the grown arse woman she claims to be if she can do it without complaint. In EVERY relationship there is give and take, but not she gives and I take. We all have to make compromises in life. And it is, after all, one of the if not THE most important day in a woman’s life: HER WEDDING. It’s not about you, the MOH but the bride. If you don’t want to do it, then don’t do it. And its a hard job as I too had a horrible MOH who didn’t plan anything much less get fitted for her dress in a timely fashion. She had to be “downsized” after everyone involved in the wedding started asking me what was up with the shower, etc….

      I think its unfair that comments are presented in this negative manner attempting to make a bride feel like c rap because she’s asking her MOH to get with the program if plans have taken behind. That impresses upon me that the commentators are possible jealous or just don’t appreciate the happiness of a friend who wants to get married the way THEY want to get married. Whether it’s by the ocean, in the woods, a basilica, Vegas; who cares how is done? This isssupposed to be your friend ! A very good one if she wanted to bestoy the honorary job of MOH on you. It means she trusts you, your friendship, your time, energy and taste and probably feels you’re one if not THE MOST responsible person she knows.

      So if you want to keep the friendship, do the darn MOH job without bitching about it. Otherwise, YOU thinking the “wedding thing gets old fast” is going to cost you your friendship…IF you value your friendship with this person. But then if you can’t do the job then explain why you can’t but would LOVE to be there to celebrate her wonderful, happy day as a guest and have breakfast, lunch or dinner or drinks with your friend and her new hubby when they come back from their honeymoon.

      Yes, it’s that simple.

      • 2cents says:

        2cents: comments from sides one may not see. May appear blunt, but the purpose is to just put it out there for thought…

        Job? Which decade are we living in to be precise?
        for example, the “job” of a wife in the 1960’s was….
        the “Job” of a mother in the 1970’s was…
        need I go on?

        Perhaps the issue in question stems from the assumed and expected definition of the word “Job” in accordance with one particular view?

        Good grief – try to explain to a man in the 60’s why you wouldn’t just LOVE to wait on them hand and foot, have less of a say, not be able to vote, not have a higher education.. etc etc.

        Those that tried to explain why they didn’t like this “job” even though they seemed to have signed up for it, were thrown on the street.

        One can only try to do their best to be considerate and tactful when trying to make someone else happy that exhibits “hall Pass behaviours” as an excuse for validation.

        Perhaps next time someone feels their “MOH” didn’t do their required “job” that you expected, and you are disgustingly disappointed, you should hand out a rule book with the job description of your choosing.

        Does that seem harsh or totally ridiculous? Would it now be equally ridiculous for the one being asked for that position to demand one?

        Who cares what your friend wants and how they want it? It’s your “JOB” as their friend to say yes to the moon because that defines how much you are a “friend” to them on THIS day?

        WOW from 2cents: WOW = Words of wisdom
        To MOH: Don’t say yes to being someone’s pen pal when you aren’t told how many letters you’re supposed to write and how often you write them in order to not be a failure in the pen pal department.***Spoiler alert**** If you do ask this before accepting to be a pen pal, you will be seen as offensive for asking, and therefore not wanted as a pen pal.

        To Bride: Don’t ask someone to be your best pen pal with the “expectation” that they should know how to write to you ***Spoiler alert *** If you do tell them what is required of them for this job description, you will be seen as offensive for doing so, and therefore not wanted as a pen pal.

        2cents says: No win my friends.

        I leave that up to you for the anticipated whirlwind in opposing responses.

  4. lottie says:

    Hi Jen,

    Congratulations on your engagement. No doubt you also lead an extremely hectic life. Out of curiosity when will the wedding be? Is it soon,this year or next or have you not set a date? Where is the wedding and how many guests are coming? Have you sent out invitations?If nothing has been finalised then I can understand your friend not exactly being over enthusiastic because she doesn’t know when it is…..
    However there is one word that irritates me and it is the word BUSY. So many times it is used by people as a get out to commit to something. I know your friend has said yes. How do you know that she is busier than you….because she says so. Is she involved in running The White House or maybe adviser to the Pope or perhaps a school teacher, or manageress of wherever. She is as busy as she wants to be and will find time if she is really interested. Do your planning with your bridesmaids, hubby to be and family. Send her brief emails with up dates on what is happening and do not apologize for interrupting her BUSY work schedule. She is no busier than the next person. We all have priorities even an alcoholic is busy looking for his next drink. My opinion is she is rude and that means not being aware of other peoples feelings.
    If I am rude I apologise,I just want you to be excited and hysterically happy. The planning is as exciting as the day.
    When I got married 2nd time it was in Central Park and I put my flowers on John Lennon’s memorial I have never been as excited as when I wrote to Yoko Ono to tell her and she replied with an unusual card. ENJOY Lottie

    • Ms Nichols says:

      Lottie!

      You’re amazing as you hit the nail on the head, girl! LOLOLOLOL. ..running the White House. …girlfriend! Awesomeness!

      I wish I went to YOUR wedding! Central Park and John Lennon’s memorial AND a card from Yoko? Hello! That is cool as can be!

      I’m beginning to think the reason some women have issues making/keeping friends is because of their attitudes. So you hate weddings? Is this not a good, or best friend? Compromise. Make sure they do or go somewhere with you that you really love and ask when they refuse, “so, remember when I was your MOH?” 😉

      Are you jealous if your friend? Get over it and either A) Bite the bullet if you value this friendship and B) if you don’t, then move on and “break up.” Do you hate her fiancé and just can’t see her marrying this kind of person but love your friend? Then “go” out of town.

      Sorry for the crassness of my posts but if I had a friend who WAS jealous (and I did: My MOH who was my best and oldest friend TOLD me she was jealous of me….no longer friends with her. I miss her sometimes but remind myself of the crazy crap she put me through during and after my wedding. And mind you, I had low expectations from my BMs and MOH; just that they get their dresses fitted in time and plan the shower /bachelorette party and ask me for everyone’s addresses. ) and has lived through it. But let me tell you; I would love and be honored if I was asked to be a MOH for a friend. I would LOVE the job of knowing that I helped make a friend’s wedding memorable and beautiful and fun and then remind her that when she comes back from tjat honeymoon she and I are going to a hockey game, no questions!

      Compromise!

      • Ms Nichols says:

        Oops…my phone cut off mid – sentence. If i had a jealous friend or one who acted like I asked her to volunteer with ebola victims without protective gear, I’d reevaluate my friendship with this person. After all was said and done with my former friend and BM (I demoted her per her request. I said VERY NICELY “Since you’re SOOOI busy running the White House and you DID say you’d be MOH, how about you just come as a guest? I really want to share my special day with you as you’re my sister from another Mr and ready love you. ” she asked if she can be a BM instead, so there ya go) I had to end the friendship. She turned out to be a narcissistic jealous and selfish person who lost a lot of friends due to her attitude.

        Life is way too short to have to deal with the negative manure of others. Seriously? If the consensus is “big deal, just a damn wedding, I hate weddings and crazy happy families. …Well, no wonder you have problems making /keeping friends. …IMHO

      • lottie says:

        Hi Ms Nichols,
        Thank you for LOL so many times. I had forgotten that I had written that to Jen but now I am also having a good LOL.
        I am wondering where Jen is, it would be lovely to have an update.
        Lets all write to Yoko for Christmas. Enjoy LOL Lottie

        • Ms Nichols says:

          😉 You are welcome! Yes, we should send a Christmas card to Yoko! And our busy friends! Hopefully yours isn’t too busy with the Pope and mine at the White House !

          Blessings!

          • lottie says:

            Ha ha ha,
            Yes Ms Nichols,I have a very conceited sort of ex friend (long story) who uses BUSY as a delay or get out of doing anything with me but only when it suits her. At the moment she is on holiday and thinks herself so important that she doesn’t realise I haven’t missed her.I hope she is on a 2nd PHILAE PROBE mission which takes 10yrs to get to wherever, and if it comes back another 10yrs. Who cares. LOL Lottie

            • Ms Nichols says:

              Awesome her on the Philae Probe! LOLOLOLOL! I had one of those as well. Had…past tense. Ain’t nobody got time for that. …Plus I had to be at HER beckoned call. What evs!

              🙂

  5. mouse says:

    I agree. While this wedding is the biggest thing in your life, it is not the biggest thing in hers or any of your attendants. There is a huge variance in brides’ expectations/needs for the MOH, it is imperative that yours knows exactly what your expectations are and has the opportunity to step down to bridesmaid if needed. Often the honor of being selected has us saying ‘yes!’ when in reality its too big of a job. some brides expect too much even from the bridesmaids. Her busy schedule may just not be compatabile with the demands of dress shopping, fittings, shower hosting and planning, gift shopping, hen night planning and hosting and any other expected apearances. Being a MOH is a huge commitment both financially and timewise. Sometimes its easier in theory than in practice to come through without damage to the relationship. I have been MOH 4 times and 2 times it was almost the end of my relationship with the bride. I have learned to ask exactly what people expect when they ask me to be attendant or godparent, etc. Clarifying expectations and honestly saying no when appropriate are so important in all situations, vital to the friendship.

    • 2cents says:

      2cents says:
      where is this MOH rulebook with all of these so called “facts” in responsibility and duties? Someone please publish so we can all be at peace.
      I’m still waiting for the “Life is fair” and “Everything happens for a reason” and the “We all have a purpose” handbooks.

      Pleas update ASAP.

  6. Amy F says:

    I was going to say the same thing as Bronwyn. Nobody should be as excited about your wedding and marriage as you and your fiancé.
    I think the mistake you made when you asked your friend was not being clear about your expectations for the role of MOH, so tryst your friend could make an informed decision about whether she could fulfill those expectations. It’s not too late yo clarify what you want from your MOH and ask if that’s something she wants to and is able to do. You might also examine your if you’re expecting too much from you MOH. There are no steadfast rules as to what a MOH does or doesn’t do. Every bride gets to do what works for her and the members of her party. Can some of the bridesmaids pick up the slack if your MOH gets stuck at work? I know you’d never want to neglect her work assignments to be more available.
    Good luck working this out.

  7. bronwyn says:

    I think you’ve answered your own question in that you say she’s not as excited about the wedding as you are. Of course, she’s not; no one is. It’s YOUR wedding. Since it doesn’t sound like anything has changed (other than your expectations of her), I’d try to get some clarity and leave it at that. If there are specific dates you need to nail things down for, I’d use one of the phone conversations (assuming she agrees to them) to accomplish this.

    Also, you might want to mentally review any contact you’ve had since she agreed to be your maid of honor and consider whether or not you’ve said anything that might be misconstrued. I’m not saying you have, but since you’re feeling so certain something is going on, that may be the place to start.

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