Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So You're A Bridesmaid, a MOH, a Best Man or a Groomsman!

You've been hand-picked by the bride and groom to stand beside them as they become husband and wife. That makes you pretty awesome :) Being a member of the wedding party means, first and foremost, being there for your friends as they prepare for their big day and being with them for their wedding celebration. It also means being a co-planner of some pre-wedding events, and attending as many of those events as possible.

So Who is Who?
- Bride & Groom- The ones getting married, silly!
- MOH: Maid of Honor, or Matron of Honor if she is married. This is the go-to girl, often a sister or a best friend, who should be taking charge and leading the group throughout the planning process.  She often gives a speech at the wedding.
- Best Man: The MOH equivalent on the guys' side.  Taking charge for bachelor party planning, giving a speech at the wedding.
- Bridesmaids, Groomsmen: Other special attendants who are part of the big day! Groomsmen are sometimes called Ushers, especially when they are helping guests to their seats at the ceremony.
- MOB, FOB: Mother and Father of the Bride.
- MOG, FOG: Mother and Father of the Groom.
- Flower Girl(s), Ring Bearer(s), Junior Bridesmaid(s): The kids of the wedding party.
*Note: Sometimes, a bride will have a male best friend and give him a unique wedding party title like 'Man of Honor' or vice versa.  This person can be a part of both sides of the wedding party festivities as appropriate.

Here are the tasks that are often involved in being a wedding party member. Girls are in Purple, Guys are in Blue, and tasks that involve everyone are in Green
- Attending and possibly helping to plan an Engagement Party for the bride and groom. This is often planned and hosted by the parents/families of the couple, but if you're important to the betrothed, there's a good chance that you'll be invited!
- Planning a Bridal Shower. Invitees are women and girls who live within reasonable driving distance. This is co-planned between bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, and sometimes the MOB and MOG.  
- Helping with the gift opening portion of the Bridal Shower.  This could mean passing gifts to the bride, throwing trash away, using ribbons to make a ribbon bouquet or hat (traditionally, this is saved for use at the rehearsal), or writing down gifts and gift-givers for the bride to use when she writes her Thank you notes.  
- Planning and attending a Bachelor Party for the Groom.
- Planning and attending a Bachelorette Party for the Bride.
- Clothing Shopping: This could include dress shopping with the bride, bridesmaid dress shopping with as many ladies as possible (this requires some schedule coordination!), trying on suits/tuxes, getting fitted, getting alterations (this may be done individually), going along with the bride for her alterations and to learn how to bustle her dress, pickup and drop off if applicable (for rented suits).  
- Assisting the Bride & Groom with tasks along the way, such as Save the Dates, Invitation Prep, DIY Craft projects, shopping, Bathroom Baskets, Hotel Bags for out of town guests, Programs, Place Cards, Favors, etc.  Being available to help them when needed. 
- Lending an ear, a shoulder and/or a hand- planning a wedding can be a lot of time, energy, and work! 
- Suggest ideas for fun group pictures, and help coordinate any pre-planning (sunglasses, winter hats, signs, etc.) 
- Enthusiastically being there for the wedding weekend itself, from the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (where the couple may ask bridesmaids and groomsmen if they'd like to give a speech), to the wedding prep, to the wedding itself (!), the after-party, a morning-after brunch, etc. Whatever the bride & groom have planned, you should try to be there as a member of the wedding party, being friendly toward all guests and having fun!  
- Offering to help run errands, pick up out of town guests at the airport or train station, etc. 
- Helping the bride bustle her dress (or pull up the train and attach it in a certain way so that she doesn't trip throughout the night. Usually, the MOH and MOB know what to do here, but you can always offer to lend a hand! 
- Preparing and presenting speeches at the wedding and proposing a toast (often, this is just for the Maid of Honor and Best Man, but occasionally, a couple will ask if any other wedding party members would like to make a speech.  It is an honor to be asked to do so, and it's an amazing gift to the couple for you to oblige).  
- Smiling for LOTS of pictures at the wedding, and being truly happy for the couple :) This shouldn't be hard to do. Also, helping spread the word about little details guests could miss, like signing a guest book, checking out a photo booth, hitting up the dessert station, etc. Getting on the dance floor and getting other guests out too is a great way to start the party after dinner- if the wedding party is having fun, more people will come out and join in! The bride & groom may ask you to help greet guests, either by standing in a receiving line or walking around at the reception to say hi. Be outgoing and have fun! 
- Dancing after the couple's first dance (they may ask attendants to dance with each other- a bridesmaid with a groomsman) and going out for the bouquet toss (if not married). 
- Preparing a nice send-off at the end of the wedding if the couple is heading right to their honeymoon.
*Note: The Maid or Matron of Honor will also be responsible for: compiling a contact list and staying in touch with bridesmaids, assisting with any mailings, choosing and coordinating the bridesmaids' gift for the shower, coordinating fittings for bridesmaids gowns, holding the bride's bouquet (and her own) during the ceremony, making sure the bride's train is straight, serving as a witness to the marriage, lifting the bride's blusher for the husband's first kiss (if a blusher is worn, and if you are her sister), assist the bride throughout the night (hold her dress while she pees, grab her a new drink when hers gets low, pass her the lipstick when hers starts to wear off, make sure she gets something to eat, then let her know if there's something in her teeth- friends tell, and she wouldn't want it to be in all of those pictures!-  and help her as she changes into her going away clothes after the wedding. 

Being in a wedding can get costly.  Prepare for the expenses ahead of time. 
You are excited to be a part of your friends' big day, but you know that this can get expensive.  Plan ahead to save about $1000 as a MOH, slightly less as a Best Man, $600-800 as a Bridesmaid, and slightly less as a Groomsman.  Here are some costs that you will likely incur:
- Engagement Gift
- Shower venue, food, favors, decorations and activities
- Shower Gift (sometimes, bridesmaids will go in on this together)
- Dress (and alterations), shoes, purse, shawl/jacket, accessories, the right undergarments (have these before going for alterations). 
- A meal out while shopping (Splitting the bride's meal is a nice gesture, if everyone is on board). Champagne on a dress shopping day is fun, too! 
- Bachelor Party: Transportation, Activities, Hotel if needed, food, drinks, gifts. (Split between the BM and groomsmen)
- Bachelorette Party: Transportation, Activities, Hotel if needed, food, drinks, gifts. New outfit if needed? (This is usually split between the MOH and bridesmaids)
- Suit purchase, Tux or suit rental. Shoes, tie, etc. for the big day
- Getting nails done, eyebrows waxed, hair cut, facial, in preparation. (Tip: I read that you should not get your hair cut within a month of the wedding, but I'd say 2 weeks is a safe timeframe. The reasoning was so that you're not experimenting with a new 'do so close to such an important event, and- just in case you don't like it- you won't put a damper on the day for yourself or anyone else. Facials should be scheduled at least 2 weeks prior to the big day- you can imagine why. Nails should be done the day before or even the day of the wedding).  
- Outfits for the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner, brunch, and any other events the weekend of the wedding 
- The rehearsal dinner is often hosted and paid for by parents of the bride or groom. However, there may be a few meals throughout the weekend that will be your responsibility. 
- Travel costs to get to/from the wedding and hotel accommodations are up to you.  Looking to save some money? Consider sharing a hotel room with another guest/couple, carpool when possible. 
- Hair and Makeup the day of the wedding (Tip: Wear a button-down shirt to the salon or the bridal suite). 
- A Bridesmaids' Toolkit- A little kit (a lot like the bathroom basket you may be preparing for guests with the bride) just for the wedding party- just in case! Keep this within an arm's reach at all times, from the ceremony to the end of the reception. 
- Wedding gift. 
- After-party drinks?
- Brunch the morning after is often hosted, but be prepared just in case the expense is your responsibility. 
*Note: Know that pop-up costs can come anytime, and each above the above costs can be higher than expected, or possibly lower than expected.  Be prepared, have fun and if there is a problem, talk with the bride & groom about it.  

You've already said yes, so you know that it's an honor and a privilege to be in a wedding, but it's also a great favor to to the bride and groom. They know that you'll be spending a lot of your time, money and energy to make the next few months (or years?) as happy as you hope the rest of their life will be together.  They are thankful, and they're lucky to have you on their team.  Enjoy the process, soak up the little moments that will become lasting memories, plan ahead for a smooth ride, and have fun! Congrats to them, congrats to you, and happy planning :)

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