Show 'em what you're Made of!
They're supposed to unite two souls in a single bond, but weddings can engender more dissension than a congressional tax hike. That's where the maid (or matron) of honor comes in. As the bride's closest friend and ally, the maid of honor has a single objective: make things go as smoothly as possible. You're there with clear nail polish when the bride's stockings get a snag; you throw the bridal shower and remember who brought what gift; you steer her friend into choosing the most flattering dress possible; and you might even sew a hem or two.
Like many events, weddings are growing increasingly casual these days. However, tradition demands a certain set of duties from the lucky person who is chosen to be maid/matron of honor (we'll refer to the role as MOH). The following steps outline the essential responsibilities even the most traditional bride could expect of you. If you read them before you accept her offer, and follow them to the best of your ability, you will show yourself more than worthy of the "honor" you've been accorded.

Throw a Bridal Shower
What is a shower?  One story of the practice's origin has it that a Dutch girl married against her family's wishes and her father withheld her dowry. Siding with the girl, the townspeople got together and "showered" her with practical presents to make up the shortfall.
Showers do emphasize gifts, but they're really about a community showing its material and emotional support for a bride (or bridal couple). Today, the "community" can be anyone--the couple's female friends and relatives, coworkers, or just their nearest and dearest. The party can be anywhere--in your living room, at a day spa, or at the ballpark. And the gifts can be anything that the bride or couple might need or want--from power tools to frilly lingerie. If the shower shows the couple that their friends are behind them and their marriage, it's a success.

Traditionally, the maid or matron of honor or one (or more) of the bridesmaids presides over a shower. Alternatively, a female friend or family member could host. Mothers and sisters could help plan, but they could not host--lest the family appear greedy for gifts. Nowadays, these prohibitions have faded considerably, but if you're worried about propriety in your circle, ask a few people whose opinions you trust. Since hosting a shower entails a certain amount of both work and cost, you may want to share the role with other people.

Who: Be sure to invite all the bride's female family members as well as her close friends, in particular the bridesmaids. While the bride shouldn't take an active part in party planning, she MUST be consulted about the guest list and timing of the event.

What: The gathering does not need to be formal. Light snacks and beverages are sufficient, and once everyone has arrived and had a drink and a bite to eat, the bride can begin opening presents. Party games are suggested in order to break the ice, but are not required.

Where: The shower is usually held in the MOH's home, or in the home of a family member or friend of the bride. However, it is tradition not to hold it in the bride's home.

When: Showers are traditionally held in the afternoon and a month or two before the wedding date in order to keep everyone as free as possible during the final week before the actual ceremony. If there is no way to get enough people together before then, make sure times do not conflict with other wedding-week events.

Pack  an Emergency Kit

While the bride is responsible for preparing a kit for last-minute rips, spills, aches, and pains, you should check the kit over to make sure everything is there. Depending on how girlie-girlie the bride might be, the kit should include some or all of the following:

Walking down the Aisle (alone)
On the day of the wedding, you should attend to the bride as she is dressing for the big event and make sure she eats a generous pre-wedding meal. At the ceremony itself, you're loosely in charge of the other bridesmaids, making sure that they know their roles, that their dresses are ironed, that they're wearing the right color of nail polish, and that they refrain from growing too rowdy (although at some weddings this is encouraged, so check with the bride first).

In a traditional wedding, you directly precede the bride down the aisle and are seated next to her during the service. Once the bride completes her own processional, you relieve her of her bouquet. You'll also make any adjustments to the bride's train, should she be wearing one. If it is a double-ring ceremony, you'll also have charge of the groom's ring and should produce it at the right time.

The perfect MOH is a multi-tasker. You're able to organize a guest list, address envelopes with a handsome cursive and pin a hem in a lacy fabric. Of course, no one's perfect, but be prepared to help not just with the wedding and shower, but also with at least some of the preliminary scut-work. If you find yourself mopping floors or cleaning toilets, remind the bride that you aren't the maid: You're the maid OF HONOR. But do be available in the weeks and months leading up to the wedding to provide relief to the bride and her family. Most of all, you're there for moral support.

If you see the bride spinning out of control, actively volunteer your help. Fiancées sometimes have a hard time delegating responsibility. Maybe they are too shy to ask for help, or they are perfectionists who think only they can do it right. Whatever the case, tell her you want to help in any way you can, and if she does not take you up on your offer right away, offer specific times when you're available.

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