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Being a good maid of honor: 5 tips from the pros

In this May 19, 2012 photo provided by Jennifer Paik, maid of honor Paik, third from left, poses with bride and best friend, Joo Cha, center, and her bridesmaids at Chaís wedding in Newport Beach, Calif. — AP photos
In this May 19, 2012 photo provided by Jennifer Paik, maid of honor Paik, third from left, poses with bride and best friend, Joo Cha, center, and her bridesmaids at Chaís wedding in Newport Beach, Calif. — AP photos

Jennifer Paik has been a maid of honor not once, not twice, but an impressive four times, most recently for her childhood best friend’s Newport Beach, California, yacht wedding three years ago. The hardest part of the gig, according to the 34-year-old New York City real estate consultant? Writing and delivering the maid of honor’s wedding toast.

The first time she gave one of those speeches, at age 27, it was “terrible,” too improvised. She nailed it this last time, she said, by sticking to a friend’s advice: Tell stories. Her best friend loved it. “The guests could not stop laughing, and her husband still jokes that she did not shed a single tear the entire wedding except during my speech!” Paik said. Five more tips from wedding experts on how to be a good maid of honor:

Support the bride
While a maid of honor has many traditional duties, from helping the bride shop for a dress to organizing the bridal shower – plus holding the wedding bouquet and the groom’s ring – her main role is making sure the bride is happy. So be enthusiastic! “Even if the ideas the bride has sound horrible to you and are not your style, remember that to her they’re great,” said wedding planner Elizabeth Brandon, owner of the Los Angeles-based Wink! Weddings. “Try to take everything with a grain of salt. This day is about her.”

2-    Be a buffer
Being head bridesmaid means running interference between the bride and her other bridesmaids or any meddling family members. “Be kind to your bride and help with internal squabbles among the bridesmaids,” saidYolanda Crous, features and travel director of Brides Magazine. Get together with the other bridesmaids and let everyone vent, she says. “Feel free to let loose.”
On the day of the wedding, ask the bride for a list of the people with whom she’d like to interact, since she’ll be bombarded all day. If her new mother-in-law ticked her off during the week, steer her away from the bride, said Brandon. “You can take the mother-in-law over to that amazing cookie bar while the bride stays on the dance floor with her champagne and is happy,” she said.

3-    Don’t go overboard planning the shower and bachelorette party
“It can be super-easy to get carried away and plan a bridal shower that you think is perfect and would make Martha Stewart proud. But if it’s one the bride doesn’t want, you would be in a world of trouble,” Brandon said. She warned against any out-of-left-field “ta-dah!” moments, such as a surprise dance that could make a bride want to sprint for the hills.
And don’t be afraid to ask the bride for help if your schedule is packed. “You might say, ‘Can I have a couple of bridesmaids co-host with me?'” said Brandon, who planned her own LA wedding 11 months ago. She chose her then 20-year-old sister as her maid of honor, and asked one of her best friends to organize the shower.

4-    Make the bridal suite fun, clean, well-stocked
On the day of the wedding, the bridal suite is home base for the bride and her bridesmaids to get ready. Have an emergency kit on hand in case she spills something, loses a button or needs a bobby pin, said Crous. “Bring some snacks,” and keep the bride and bridesmaids from drinking too much, she added. Brandon suggested making “the best getting-ready music playlist ever.” And tidy up afterward.

5-    Keep the toast short and sweet
Finally, when it comes time to hoist the champagne and toast the bride, keep it short, said Crous, and don’t embarrass her.
“Don’t do the thing where you dredge up things from the bride’s past to be funny,” she said. “Humor is great! But be funny and kind. You’re better off doing something simple and emotional and from the heart.” For Paik, being there for her friend of 25 years was more than worth the effort. “Though she would be the first to describe herself as neurotic and demanding, she was the ideal bride – decisive, mindful of everyone’s time and money, and flexible,” Paik said.-AP

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