Maid of Honor Tips for Planning From Afar

Being maid of honor is tough enough when there aren't 500 miles (or more) between you and the bride. You've just gotta adjust -- here's how!
by Tracy Guth

So your best friend has asked you to be her honor attendant, and you're totally psyched -- it's going to be so much fun! Then you start to realize exactly what this job entails, and you get a little bit nervous -- because you live hundreds of miles away from the wedding site, and there's not exactly a Learjet available to take you back and forth. You're a faraway maid of honor. What now? Here's our advice.

First of All, Relax

The bride chose you because she loves you, and she knows as well as you do that you're not quite a local. So most likely, she's already prepared to cut you some slack. That said, you should definitely do your best to be there for her as much as you possibly can.

What Does She Want From You?

Some brides want an honor attendant/personal assistant who'll pick up torn-up vendor contracts and pieces of tulle in their wake. Others could care less if three showers (or even one) are thrown for them, all by you. Figure out what kind of bride you're dealing with, because it will definitely shape your honor-attendant experience. Also, if the two of you talk up front about what she thinks you should do and what you think you can do, you'll avoid assumptions about each other on down the road. Remember -- it's easy to miscommunicate over the miles, so sit down and hammer it all out at the beginning.

Be Honest

Let the bride know that you'll always be there for her, but that there's probably a limited amount of time you'll be able to be there for her. Decide when you'll be able to fly in -- maybe a wedding-dress shopping weekend, a bridesmaid-dress shopping weekend (the same weekend, if you can swing it!), and a shower weekend, plus getting in several days early for the wedding, for the bachelorette soiree, rehearsal dinner, and to help her get ready for the approaching big day. Let the bride know how many times, and when, you think you're going to be able to get to town. It's important to figure all this out early -- not only will you be able to get better airfares, but you'll avoid saying, "Just call me when you need me and I'll get on a plane" when the truth is you can't actually do that.

Make Friends With Mom

(This is assuming she's not your mom too, of course!) Since you're far away, it's a good idea to give the bride's mom a call -- she'll be your contact in town. Moms can be great shower-planning buddies! If her mom's not a local either (or she's not available or involved), make one of the bridesmaids there your point person. Whoever your local pal turns out to be, she'll be able to give you the lowdown on how day-to-day wedding planning is going, as well as let you know what the bride's state of mind is like on any given day -- so you'll have your supportive words ready to go when she calls, freaking out.

Be a Phone Buddy

Speaking of phone calls -- be prepared to spend hours on the horn with the bride (you do that already anyway, right?). You're the one she's going to call to hem and haw and vent and bitch and moan, so get used to it. Also utilize your email for quick back-and-forths. And don't think you're going to get away with just being the callee: Even if you can't be a part of the hometown planning team, you can help by calling companies to inquire about favors or thank-you notes, or you can confirm services with all the wedding vendors. A month before, and then a week before, you'll call everyone and make sure they've got the right times, places, and other details down. Maybe you can't go down to the florist to check out the pink roses, but you can call to make sure that pink roses are what will surround the altar. And remember -- long-distance phone calls are way cheaper than plane tickets!

Get to Know the Other Maids

If you haven't met them yet or aren't friends with them already, call all the other bridesmaids to say hey, and that you're looking forward to meeting them during bridesmaid-dress shopping or at the shower. This will make it easier for you to take charge on wedding day, and it'll show them what a cool girl you are -- so no one will have reason to resent you for not being the one getting dragged to the corner stationer but still having the best title. One tip: Don't vent about the bride to the other maids, or commiserate with their complaints about her. Just listen and be diplomatic; you are the liaison between her and them, even across the miles.

Play up Your Day-of Duties

So you can't be there for all the wedding planning -- just plan to be the honor attendant from heaven on wedding day. Make sure everyone's dressed and ready to roll on time. Help the bride attach her veil. Clasp the groom's ring tightly on your way down the aisle (you'll be able to get rid of it then!). Be nice to the best man even if he's completely annoying. Create the best dang bustled train anyone's ever seen. Tell the band to stop playing the Macarena before the bride bursts into tears.

Make It up to Her

What if you can't get to town very often -- and the bridesmaids end up putting on the shower for her? Plan your own celebration. Maybe the bride can take a destressing weekend trip out to visit you, when you'll take her out to celebrate. One maid we know took her bride out to Japanese-style afternoon tea and gave her a shower gift then. Not only is a shower for two much less stressful than the regular kind, but you'll get to spend some laid-back, relaxed best-friend time. And isn't that what this maid of honor thing is really all about?

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