Choosing a small group of friends to stand with you on your special day is difficult enough, but to select that one special person who will lead the group can be a nightmare.

Define what you really want. Are you a do-it-yourself bride, or do you want your Maid of Honour to be your right hand (wo)man all the way through? If you're high-maintenance, accept and acknowledge it. Choose someone who can truly be there for you, and let them know exactly what you want. If you don't know anyone with that much time or energy to give, think about finding help elsewhere. Is your fiancé an active participant in the planning? Can your mother do more?

Maids of Honour are not supposed to be wedding co-planners ... unless they really, really want to be!

Tell her what you really want. More than one bride has shed tears because a Maid of Honour couldn't read her mind. For example: Brides often wish their Maid of Honour will give a little speech at the reception, but never get around to asking them. If it's important to you, talk about it!

She doesn't have to be family. Never feel obliged to ask a sister or other family to be your Maid of Honour. If your best friend is up to the job, choose her. She deserves it.

If you need a lot of help, Choose someone local to the wedding. No one can do much from 2000 kilometres away, no matter how much they really want to.

Be realistic. Weddings are exciting. People are human. When you've just announced your wedding, lots of people will offer to help, but not everyone will manage to follow through. Who came through for you before the wedding? Who actually managed to rearrange their schedules to be with you, even when inconvenient? These are the people to rely on.

No matter how exciting your plans, they won't make an overcommitted person more available to you. Avoid the trap of asking someone because you think your wedding will be "important enough" for them to "make a plan", and you'll avoid all the stress and trauma of a disappointing Maid of Honour.

Honour your Maid of Honour with a little sign of how special she is to you. Take her out to a day spa, or go together to have your hair or nails done before the ceremony. Pick out a dress for her that's a different colour from the other bridesmaids, or order her a bouquet with some special touches. She deserves it!

If you just can't decide on one, consider having more than one Maid of Honour. But keep in mind that this can create extra problems as well. Will they be able to divide responsibilities, communicate well and avoid the "I'm the boss" syndrome?