Maid of honor, man of honor, bridesmaid, bridesman, honor attendant—these folks go by many names, but they really are so much more. The individual you choose to honor with this title will be your ally, confidante, sounding board, and assistant throughout wedding planning and the big event. For this reason, your maid of honor is a very special choice. But what do you do if you cannot choose just one?
Luckily, in today’s modern wedding environment, traditions are evolving. The emphasis is on personalizing your event and what works for you. If you’re having a maid of honor dilemma, relax, you have lots of options. Sit back, take a deep breath, and let’s talk with some wedding planning professionals.
Ask why you're having trouble deciding.
The first thing you need to consider is why you are having difficulty making the decision. Sarah Ward of Sarah Ward Events in Monterey & San Francisco, CA, shares: “Having trouble choosing just one maid of honor is more common than you’d think. I see this issue pop up for one of two reasons: One, because the bride knows that someone’s feelings are going to get hurt. Second, because she has two amazing girlfriends who are equally important in her life.”
If you are facing this dilemma, ask yourself if you are mostly worrying about external pressures. Then refocus on what is most important to you. Remember, this is one time in life in which you are allowed to be a little bit selfish.
“It only gets tricky when you start worrying about other people’s feelings,” says Christina Baxter (“CiBi”) of CiBi Events in Washington, D.C. & Charleston, SC. “This is your time to choose that most special friend, relative, or sibling. Just because you were someone’s MoH does not require you to have her as yours.”
Remember there are no rules.
“There are no ‘rules’ to picking your maid of honor,” says CiBi. “It should simply be the person you want standing closest to you at the altar (second to your spouse to be of course). I tell brides to just close their eyes and think about who that person would be. The answer is usually pretty clear.”
A lot of brides wonder whether they can have 2 maid of honors. The answer is, of course you can! They will still be thrilled to stand by your side on the big day, and they will likely be relieved to have each other to lean on for maid of honor duties.
“When a bride mentions to me, ‘I cannot decide between my two sisters or my friend and sister. Can I add them both?’ I tell her to write down the list of all the people in the wedding party,” says Jacqueline Vazquez of Lifetime Events by Jacqueline, based in the New York City area. “Then I ask her to think about the reasons why she would prefer having both, versus selecting one as the maid of honor and the other as a bridesmaids. When the bride responds, ‘both are equally important to me,’ I tell her that is absolutely fine.” Two maids (or matrons) of honor is perfectly acceptable. So if you have two great ladies to honor—go ahead! The more the merrier.
Jacqueline points out: “When a bride elects to have two maids of honor, she can have them share the duties, such as planning the shower, attending her dress fitting, and communicating with the wedding party.”
Large wedding parties are no longer the norm: many couples opt for no wedding party at all. The benefits include less stress for you (no managing a large crowd) and your friends (who can simply enjoy themselves as guests), and less money (fewer bouquets is easier on your budget, not to mention saving your friends the expense of special attire).
This also adds to the relaxed air and simplicity many couples want for their event.
If you can easily choose a group of special ladies and/or gents, but feel uncomfortable ranking one above the rest, then don’t. You can simply have a wedding party with no maid of honor. Remove the pressure and enjoy your circle of friends.
Jacqueline also adds: “Other options I have seen range from having only flower girls or junior bridesmaids to having a wedding party which only includes a maid of honor and a best man.” CiBi shares a similar experience: “I even had one bride who had her brother as her ‘man of honor’ and the groom’s sister was the ‘best woman.’”
Another fun trend is to give your wedding party completely different titles. Always wanted to be a princess? Then have “ladies in waiting.” Or how about a “bridal brigade?” Some creative brides even reverse the stereotypical, much-maligned role of bridesmaid by calling their attendants “non-bridesmaids.”
What’s important in the end is that you do what is feels right to you. Our wedding planners agree.
“The biggest day in your life should be your day. Not what your family or friends tell you it should be,” says Sarah Ward. “Announce your maid of honor decision with kindness. Make sure all of your friends know how so very important they all are to you. Whether they are standing right next to you during the ceremony or down the line, it is still a huge place of honor. “
“Also keep in mind that being a maid of honor is not only an honor but a big responsibility. You want to choose someone that you know you can count on to be there for you!” CiBi adds. “A good friend or family member should understand it is a difficult choice and support you in whatever decision you make.”