By Lauren Tumas
You said yes! (To being a bridesmaid, that is). It might be the happiest day of someone else's life, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time in the process. Here, your guide to fulfilling your duties while keeping your sanity -- and friendship -- intact.
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Ask the Important Questions
Money and time can be the biggest stress factors surrounding weddings. "A bridesmaid should be up front and clear from the beginning about what she can contribute and shouldn't assume anything," says Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post and author of Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th edition. Post suggests asking the bride how much you are expected to spend (including dress, shoes, and jewelry) and know if you are expected to travel for the wedding or bachelorette party. Make sure you mention how excited you are to be a part of this step for her so she doesn't think you'll be counting pennies the entire process. You just want to plan ahead to prevent unexpected bank account drain later on.
Know When (and How) to Say No
You wouldn't hold back telling your best friend that those high-waisted jeans shouldn't leave the dressing room, so why sugarcoat anything now? "It's perfectly acceptable for a bridesmaid to say, 'I'm looking at my schedule and I can't make the second veil fitting but I can help with something else,' says Post. After all, there's a big time commitment difference between one dress shopping trip and expecting to be at five of the bride's dress fittings. It doesn't hurt to score points for sweetness by throwing in, "I hope it goes well and I can't wait to hear all about it."
How to Handle All Those Feelings
Weddings often make people reflect on where they are in their own lives, drumming up all type of emotions. "The bride might very well take time to listen to your relationship problems, but don't be surprised if she's preoccupied with wedding planning," says Post, who suggests seeking out someone else to talk to until after the wedding if you find yourself getting overly emotional. If it's the bride who is on the verge of a breakdown, take a walk together to clear your heads.
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Rock Your Maid of Honor Speech
If you've been given the prestigious title of MOH, remember that a good speech is a succinct one -- so keep it to two minutes or less. Tutera says the best speeches are those that give a glimpse into your relationship but most of all, focus on the one between the new couple. Remember that this is not a roast! Do share a sweet or funny memory. Don't dish anything that will embarrass the bride, or anyone else in the room!
Eat and Drink Smarter, Not Less
The bride may have added pressure to look her best through the honeymoon, but that doesn't mean you're completely off the hook either. You'll have a lot of eyes on you during your walk down the aisle (and don't forget about all those photo ops and Facebook posts!), so you'll want to be prepared. "A great rule of thumb is to only eat things that look homemade," says Brian Wansink, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. For example, hors d'oeuvres that consist of garlic shrimp are going to be better for you than a puff pastry that came out of a box. When it comes to liquid calories, Wansink suggests sticking with champagne and wine for the least amount of damage. And if you can squeeze in a bite before the ceremony, do it to decrease the likelihood that you'll overeat at the reception.