As a general rule, once you've asked your friends to be in your wedding party, you're stuck with them. Unless you're willing to lose a friendship. Women, especially, take the honor of being chosen as a bridesmaid—or even more importantly, maid or matron of honor—as a serious thing. It means you're their bestie and they're the most important friend to you. You're declaring it publicly.
But what do you do when something happens during the span of wedding planning to make you change your mind about who you want to have stand next to you at the altar when you take your vows? Is it okay to ask a maid of honor to step down and just be a bridesmaid, while you promote a different friend? It's really a sticky situation.
What could be so bad that you need to "fire" your Maid of Honor? You can't fire her for just being bad at the job—some friends are the first to throw the bridal showers and plan the bachelorette party, and some just wait for somebody else to do it. You knew this about that friend before you asked her to be your MOH. A leopard doesn't change its spots just because you tell it that it's going to be a lion for a day.
However, if your MOH does something really awful to hurt you, your family or another member of the wedding party, you can't just ignore that. Having her in the role of most important friend would be a slap to whomever she hurt, even if it's not you. If what she did was bad enough, keeping her as MOH almost endorses her behavior. Especially if a lot of your wedding guests know the gossip.
Sometimes a demotion is worse than just asking her to excuse herself from the wedding party altogether. I recently had a bride tell me that her MOH (the only member of her wedding party) was refusing to show her the bridesmaid dress she had purchased. She told her, in a rather nasty email, that since she wasn't given the privilege of helping choose the bride's wedding gown, the bride had no right to see her dress. That is so wrong. When the bride contacted me upset, I suggested she should sit down face to face and figure out what's going on in the MOH's head. If there's a problem, it should be addressed. And in this case, the wedding was less than a month away.
Your wedding day is about you and your fiancé and nobody else, truthfully. Yes, you want your family to be happy with your decisions and you want your wedding party to have fun. But if your MOH has officially identified herself as a maid of dishonor, you have to back up and rethink things. There will be consequences to your friendship. But won't there be consequences if she acts like a jerk on your big day?
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is also the author of the book How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional.