27 Dresses and a Few Mistakes: What the Movie Gets Right and Wrong for Maids of Honor

Did everyone see 27 Dresses this weekend? I’ll admit: It was everything the critics said—a standard, predictable romantic comedy. And I loved every minute of it.

Even if you’ve demoted the movie to your Netflix list, it’s no spoiler to tell you that Jane (Katherine Heigl) does a ridiculous amount of the prep work for her sister Tess’s wedding. It was certifiably crazy . . . but by how much? If you’re a maid of honor, should you follow any of Jane’s leads? I asked wedding planner Bonnie Schwartz of Bonnie Schwartz & Company to fill me in on what Heigl’s character did right and wrong.

In the movie: Tess is too busy to register for her own gifts, so she sends Jane to do it.
In real life: “That’s ridiculous,” Schwartz says. “The bride and groom are picking out something for their own lives together, so they should go together.” But she adds that if the groom is too busy to help register, it’s acceptable for the bride to ask the maid of honor to come along. On a joint trip.

In the movie: Jane accompanies Tess to the final dress fitting.
In real life: Yes. “Somebody needs to know how to bustle the bride. It depends on who in the bridal party lives where, but if the maid of honor is close by, she should go to the final dress fitting.”

In the movie: Jane goes with Tess and her fiancé, George, to order the cake.
In real life: “That’s not an obligation. If, as the maid of honor, that’s something you’d like to do and are invited to do, that’s fine. But it’s not necessary.” (Note to brides: If your maid of honor can, like Jane, strong-arm the baker into doing the cake on three weeks’ notice, definitely extend that invitation!)

In the movie: Tess is too busy to go to the Central Park Boathouse to pick out the wedding meal, so Jane and George do it.
In real life: “No, no, no. That’s not to say that the bride wouldn’t invite you to come along. I’ve seen maids of honor at tastings many times, but never in lieu of the bride. There are too many decisions being made.”

In the movie: Tess asks Jane to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner.
In real life: This is definitely a task the maid of honor should be prepared to do, Schwartz says—“if not at the rehearsal dinner, then at the wedding.”

In the movie: Tess asks Jane to create a photo slide show of her and George to play at the rehearsal dinner.
In real life: This one’s a tossup: “That’s a bit beyond the duties of a maid of honor—it’s usually a professional who does that.” But if the maid of honor is interested in photos and knows how to use that kind of software, “sure—anything goes.”

In the movie: Tess doesn’t have many girlfriends, so she asks Jane to ask her best friend to be a bridesmaid.
In real life: “Oh, no!” Schwartz says. “That’s just sad.”


Calling all bridesmaids: In the spirit of Jane's hot pink zip-front Vegas bridesmaid dress (see the movie, seriously), I'm still accepting submissions for Bridal Party's ugly bridesmaid dress contest. Send your tackiest bridesmaid-dress photo to me at, along with a few details about where and when you had to wear it, and I’ll feature the best of the worst in an upcoming online slide show.

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