When your best friend since second grade marries your boyfriend's' best friend (also since second grade), you want to make sure you help them throw the greatest wedding ever. When you're an editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, you feel even more motivated to make the day go smoothly.
Meaghan, like most brides, was overwhelmed with all the planning and didn't know where to begin. As her maid of honor and wedding "expert" with five years of Martha experience, I offered my assistance; unfortunately, I came on a little strong in the beginning; "You do not want white roses!" "You must have a photo booth!" Eventually I came to my senses and remembered it was Meaghan's day, not mine.
After a year of planning—and lots of ups and downs—Meaghan and Mark's wedding was full of love and a ton of fun. Here are some tips I learned about how to be the best MOH ever:
DO: Accept the bride's choices.
Be a team player, not the coach. If the bride loves something and you don't, it's important to walk that fine line of expressing your opinion but understanding her side too. If she's set on wearing a hot pink dress on her wedding day, then go with it! She may regret it in 10 years but you cannot shut it down now.
DON'T: Go off-track.
With so many details to cover, it's critical you help the bride stay organized. Keep binders, Pinterest boards, and lists to make sure everything is getting done when it should. Also make sure the style and color palette are coming together in a cohesive way. It's easy to love everything but she's got to choose a direction so that all the details look unified.
DO: Make time for her.
If the bride wants you to be at her dress fittings, help assemble favors, or go with her to a makeup trial, make an effort to be there. Being a maid of honor is a time- consuming job but also a privilege she's given to only one person in the world: You.
DO: Share your knowledge.
I helped Meaghan find her guestbook and wedding album from one of my favorite sites, Artifact Uprising, that she'd never heard of before, and she was instantly obsessed. For a story in Martha Stewart Weddings, I once shot a Happy Meal as a favor/afterparty invite, and Meaghan ended up doing one similar (seen above).
DON'T: Be unprepared to work the day of.
On the wedding day, you're not off the hook. You have to help the bride get ready and keep the timeline in mind—let her know she can't redo her makeup 10 minutes before you're supposed to be at the ceremony. It's also important to help out the bridesmaids; be ready for anything with an emergency kit with things like safety pins and Band-Aids. I also brought a handheld steamer to make sure the bride and wedding party looked fresh and wrinkle-free. Some jobs will pop up throughout the day, like helping Meaghan and her mom fix her bustle right before the reception (it's way trickier than you'd expect).
DON'T: Touch the booze until after your speech.
Using alcohol to calm your nerves is a bad idea and makes for a bad speech that will disappoint the couple as well as the guests. Rehearse the speech with other friends and family to avoid stage fright (I even memorized the main points I wanted to address). Once you're finished, then grab a glass of champagne.
DO: Remember the last-minute jobs.
Sit down with the bride-to-be a week or two before the wedding and have her make a list of who is in charge of what day-of-wedding tasks. They include handing out tips to the vendors, taking home the top layer of the cake to freeze, collecting all the cards and gifts if the couple is leaving for their honeymoon the next morning,,and returning any borrowed items like a cake knife.
DO: Stay cool, calm, and collected.
I hate to say it but usually at least one thing will not go as planned the day of the wedding. Naturally, the bride will freak out, and when she does, put on a happy face. Point out the positive in the situation. On Meaghan and Mark's wedding day, it was pouring rain with high winds (yikes!). Rather than cry with her, I assured her we'd find a place to get great photos, and we did: on a gorgeous staircase at the hotel. As we were shooting photos, the entire Baltimore Ravens football team came down the stairs and hopped in the photos with us (picture above.) We wouldn't have gotten them if we'd been outside taking photos as planned.
Now you know how to be an awesome MOH!