Summertime is the height of the wedding season and the time of year when I get a lot of requests for help in planning weddings not to mention invitations. While I’ve yet to have my own special day, I have been involved with more weddings than I can count. I’ve done everything from planning the reception, helping the bride find the perfect dress, arranging and selecting flowers to last minute seating chart changes on the big day.
Now, with my busy schedule, regrettably, the only role I can accept is that of the guest. That said, I wanted to share with you a great idea I came up with for ensuring a wedding day full of bliss, not craziness. It’s the role of “Butler of Honor” and every bride should have one at her side throughout the whole bridal process — from the engagement party to the reception and all the events in between. With all the stress of planning and executing a wedding, a “Butler of Honor” is more a necessity than a luxury that a bride cannot afford to miss out on.
The role of “Butler of Honor” or BOH, will never replace the role of Maid or Matron of Honor unless you want it to. This person should never be the default wedding planner, nor should he be confused with the best man whose role it is to take care of the groom. No, the BOH is there to assist the bride only, and to provide some relief from all the demands, questions and decisions she contends with in the months, weeks and days leading up to the wedding. He is there to diffuse any tension that arises with service providers, wedding party members or the out-of-town guest who insists that the bride provides childcare during the ceremony and reception. A BOH is there to say “no,” “hell no,” and/or “absolutely not” unemotionally, directly and always with a smile.
I personally have never had a problem making my feelings known about certain traditions. Please, it’s your wedding. So let’s 86 the traditions that have become so annoying and tedious and focus on the details that will make it perfect. I always think about the bride first and the family second when it comes to what other people think. “What do you (the bride) think, sweetie?” is my mantra. It’s about keeping the bride calm, cool, and collected and always out of the line of fire. People need to have an appointment to see my brides as I never let them deal with anything that I could address either in person or by appointment.
While I have been a BOH too many times to mention, I never realized that I was creating a job title. Emotions can run so high in brides-to-be that the added testosterone of the BOH cannot be undervalued. She can always be comforted by her girlfriends or whooping it up with her bridesmaids, while her BOH is calmly dissecting any problems and delegating solutions. A BOH is not a sentimental or honorary role like that of other wedding party members. It’s an earned position that only the right man can do — this new role comes with some serious responsibility.
Ladies, now that I have your attention, you’re probably wondering how to go about choosing the right man for this important role. First, it really must be a “man” (sorry ladies) you can trust. Someone who will help you and the women in your wedding party remain calm and not freak out over little things; someone who will tell you it’s time to relax; someone you won’t mind seeing you in various stages of undress; someone who will be direct and honest with you about everything from a potentially unflattering outfit choice to ignoring the sharp zinger your future mother-in-law just said. He is your right-hand guy that you will be spending an endless amount of one-on-one time with till marriage takes you apart! And with his help and dedication, you will walk down that aisle unscathed and stress-free.
The choices of BOH are best made in terms of a job application. You need someone with the right mix of experience and personality to handle the role effectively and effortlessly. This person possesses the presence of mind and grace so as to not step on anyone’s toes, especially some of those family members who really do have the best intentions, but will drive you crazy with never-ending “suggestions” on how to do everything. You may think your father or your husband-to-be will be able to perform this BOH role, but like your Maid of Honor, they’re too wrapped up emotionally in the whole event. The best Butler’s of Honor are male friends that you love but you’ve never dated and or married. You know those single, male friends that feel like brothers rather than lovers — who love to gossip and shop and tell you when you need to reapply lipstick; the man that will hold your head up after a night out with the girls and can get away with telling you that you’re getting a little doughy/heavy and then help you rework your wardrobe so you can face the world.
Here are just some of the responsibilities of a BOH to give you an idea of the preferred qualifications you’re looking for:
- Local Even if you’re planning a far-flung destination wedding, your BOH needs to live near you (and be able to travel with you if need be.)
- Always available morning, noon and night, you want to be able to reach him by phone Blackberry or iPhone, or on his front porch at 2 a.m. when you just have to discuss flower arrangements. Sound like someone you know?
- Clean cut, good looking and stylish Your new BOH is representing you and it’s important he make the right impression. He’s there to make you look and feel great, so he should too.
- Approved by the groom You’ll be spending a lot of time with your BOH make sure your guy isn’t concerned about your “other man.”
- Experience with weddings and party planning (preferred) – he has to know the right questions to ask and work on getting the best prices.
- A network of contacts Your BOH should be your go-to man finding anything you need a good manicure, a killer massage, a good tailor or mechanic, theater tickets, a get-a-way car and more.
- Ability to negotiate and manage crises no matter how small, any crisis feels huge just before you get married. A BOH should excel at the big and small issues that arise with style and grace.
- Attention to detail The devil is in the details and your BOH needs to be, too.
- Tact and Timing He needs to know when and how to speak for the bride and when to remove her from sticky situations, even if that means throwing her over his shoulder and taking her away before she gets too crazy and starts doing things she may regret at her bachelorette party! A sloppy bride-to-be is never attractive and your BOH will make sure that it does not happen.
- Excellent communication skills Your BOH will be speaking for you in many situations. Be sure he knows how to say what he means and means what he says.
- The sense of humor Perhaps most important of all, your BOH needs to make you laugh at him, at yourself and at the inevitably absurd situations that are bound to arise during your time as a bride-to-be. There are many moments when you’ll be on the verge of breaking down in tears or laughter. Let your BOH help you “find the funny” and save your face from streaking mascara!
Having been a butler of honor for many friends over the years, I can tell you that it has been a rewarding and memorable experience. It takes commitment and a considerable amount of time, so make sure that you recognize and thank your BOH appropriately. Consider sending him for a weekend at a Spa or beachside resort the day after the wedding. You know he’ll be there! Coordinate a year’s worth of massages or haircuts that are all prepaid by your father as part of the wedding expense. You know this man the best–be sure to let him know what you’re planning in advance, especially if it involves travel. A good BOH will be almost as exhausted after your wedding day as you are, so knowing he’ll be able to get away for some R&R afterward will help energize him throughout the process. The benefits of having a Butler of Honor will be worth more than you can imagine — your wedding memories will be the proof! You can proudly tell him that you were Mar’ed” in a good way!
And there you have it.