If you’ve been asked to be a maid of honor (or matron of honor), first of all, congrats! This is a big honor, and can be fun and exciting. Just in case you aren't clear on the definition, the maid of honor is defined as the bride's right hand woman throughout her engagement and wedding day, leading the rest of the bridesmaids in their own duties. The bride will typically tap her BFF, sibling or other close friend to serve in this important role, because of the wide range of hats a maid of honor will have to wear: confidant, assistant, voice of reason, shoulder to cry on, if needed, as well as bridesmaid leader (and sometimes wrangler). As such, there are a slew of maid of honor duties and responsibilities that fall under the MOH's purview.
So what does a maid of honor do, exactly? Maid of honor duties include planning the bachelorette party, making sure the bridesmaids dresses are ordered in a timely fashion, serving as the point person on the wedding day, giving a speech at the reception, being a model wedding guest (RSVP-ing on time, reserving travel and hotel with the room block early) and so, so much more. If you’ve never served as maid of honor before (or even if you have), and aren't sure of the exact maid of honor duties associated with the job, pre-wedding and during the big event, don't worry — we've got you covered.
During the coronavirus pandemic in particular, maid of honor duties may become even more essential—helping your bestie during what's no doubt a stressful time, especially if she's had to postpone or make changes to her event. You may be asked to help reach out to guests to communicate a postponement or other updates, or simply support your friend as she figures out the best plan of action.
Check out our ultimate list of maid of honor duties and responsibilities to help you get started.
Maid of Honor Duties Before the Wedding Day
1. Lend a helping hand (and ear) to the bride
Some brides will ask a lot of their maids of honor during the wedding planning process, from helping them put together their invitations to choosing cake flavors to talking through potential color schemes (psst, here are the trendy wedding colors and palettes you need to know). Other brides may want to handle the bulk of pre-wedding responsibilities themselves—or hire a wedding planner who will take care of most of it for them. Whatever the case, the main maid of honor responsibility is to be there to assist the bride with any tasks she needs help with — or simply be there to listen to ideas, and provide suggestions and advice.
2. Attend wedding dress shopping and fittings
The bride may or may not ask the maid of honor to accompany her wedding dress shopping and to her dress fittings, but many brides do like to have the maid of honor present for this outing.
3. Lead the bridal party
There's a lot that goes into being a bridesmaid, too. The maid of honor serves as the point person for any bridesmaid-related questions or concerns—usually starting and leading the email thread on which the bridal party discusses all of the wedding-related details.
4. Be the bridesmaid dress and style guru
The maid of honor not only assists the bride with choosing the bridesmaid dresses, but also should make sure that all of the ‘maids order their dresses and accessories in a timely fashion. Other tasks related to leading the bridal party may include confirming hair and makeup appointments, helping to coordinate travel and accommodations for the crew, and more.
See More: How to Write a Maid of Honor Speech
5. Be a point person for guests
Wedding guests tend to have lots of questions. Where’s the couple registered? What’s the address of the venue? Is there a post-wedding brunch? Most of this information should be listed on the couple’s wedding website, but there are some guests who aren’t computer-savvy and may need some additional assistance. As the maid of honor, you can answer guests’ questions and provide essential information as needed.
6. Host or co-host the bridal shower
One of the most important maid of honor duties is hosting the bridal shower with help from the bridesmaids. From picking a venue to choosing décor, sending invitations to ordering food, planning a bridal shower can be a big job, so don’t be afraid to delegate some of the responsibility to the rest of the bridal party. At the actual bridal party, the maid of honor writes down all of the gifts received so that the bride can easily write thank-you notes.
7. Plan the bachelorette party
The maid of honor should work with the rest of the bridesmaids to put together a bachelorette party that the bride will never forget. Whether you’re planning a destination bachelorette party or something closer to home, keep the bride’s personality in mind to create a memorable event.
8. Attend pre-wedding events
While the maid of honor doesn’t usually plan the engagement party, rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner, she is usually in attendance at these events.
Maid of Honor Duties on the Wedding Day: Pre-Ceremony
1. Get dressed with the bridal party and bride
Time to get ready! The maid of honor usually gets ready with the bride and the rest of the bridal party in the bridal suite, and can play a big role in helping the bride get dressed and making sure everyone looks picture-perfect on the big day.
2. Serve as messenger between the couple
If the almost-married couple is exchanging love notes or gifts the morning of the wedding, a maid of honor responsibility could be to serve as the go-between, along with the best man. The maid of honor visits the bride’s future spouse, and hands over the note and/or gift—and of course, reports back on the reaction!
3. Prepare and bring an emergency kit for the bride
There are lots of mini-emergencies that can occur before the wedding, and it’s important to be prepared! The maid of honor should create a wedding-day emergency kit filled with items that may come in handy—from safety pins to fashion tape, bandaids to pain relievers.
4. Have all vendors’ contact information nearby
The bride’s goal should be to relax and enjoy the morning of her wedding—not stress over last-minute details! The maid of honor can help communicate with wedding vendors if need be, though wedding planner or venue coordinator is usually on top of wedding-related issues as well.
5. Keep the bride calm
If bride starts to seem a bit stressed, it's one of the maid of honor duties to keep the mood light. Play music, tell a funny story, watch silly cat videos, whatever it takes to keep the crew happy and laughing!
6. Help keep things on schedule
The maid of honor should make sure the bride or wedding planner provides you with a full wedding timeline and keep your eye on the clock! If the bridesmaids are focusing more on chatting than getting ready (especially if they've had some champagne or other drinks throughout the day!), gently remind them that the limo will be leaving for the ceremony in ten minutes. Try to make sure that everyone is where they need to be on time.
Maid of Honor Duties on the Wedding Day: Ceremony
1. Walk down the aisle
It’s time for the maid of honor's big moment in the spotlight! You’ll likely walk down the aisle after all of the bridesmaids, and before the flower girl and ring bearer, and bride.
2. Arrange the bride’s train and veil upon her arrival to the altar
Once the bride arrives to the altar, make sure that her dress and veil look great and make any needed adjustments before the ceremony begins.
3. Hold the bride’s bouquet
The maid of honor should be responsible for holding both her own and the bride’s bouquets during the ceremony—particularly during the exchange of the rings. The bridal bouquet can be pretty heavy, so enlist a fellow bridesmaid if you need to take a break from holding the bouquet during the ceremony.
4. Hold the groom’s ring
In an opposite-sex wedding, if there is no ring bearer, the best man will hold the bride’s wedding band, and the maid of honor holds the groom’s band until the rings are exchanged.
5. Sign the marriage license as witness
Right after the ceremony, the officiant and the newlyweds will sign the marriage license. Two witnesses are also required, and usually the maid of honor and best man take on the role of witness as well.
Maid of Honor Duties on the Wedding Day: Reception
1. Stand next to the groom in the receiving line (optional)
Many couples choose not to have receiving lines these days, but if there is one, the maid of honor stands next to the groom and greets guests as they enter the reception.
2. Enter the reception with the best man
If the emcee is introducing the wedding party members as they enter the reception, the maid of honor usually enters with the best man. Whether or not you choose to do a silly dance as you enter is your call!
3. Help bustle the bride’s train—and use the restroom!
Before the wedding, it’s a good idea to learn how to bustle the bride’s gown—her bridal salon or seamstress can give a quick tutorial if you’re able to attend a dress fitting. Bustling the bride’s gown will help keep her dress’ train clean and make her dress more comfortable to dance in.
If the bride’s gown is particularly cumbersome, you might be enlisted to help the bride use the restroom. That’s what friends (and maids of honor) are for, right?
4. Play host
As before the wedding, guests will likely have questions during the event. Where’s the guest book? When’s the cake cutting? Where do I sit? Where can I put my gift? Part of the maid of honor's role is to help answer questions and direct guests. And while guests are supposed to give their gifts directly to the newlyweds or place them on the gift table, you may be entrusted with a gift or two. Make sure any gifts are properly placed in a safe location.
5. Dance with the best man
One of the most important maid of honor duties is to have a great time and spend a lot of time on the dance floor. To help kick things off, the maid of honor traditionally dances with the best man for the song immediately following the first dance. If this seems a bit too formal or isn’t your style, no worries! Just be sure to be one of the first people on the dance floor, and encourage others to dance too!
6. Make sure the bride stays stress-free
If any mini-crises occur during the reception, don’t let on to the bride and groom. They should focus on enjoying the reception, not that the bride’s cousin got sick in the bathroom or the cake almost toppled over.
7. Give a toast after the best man
The maid of honor usually gives a speech after the best man. The maid of honor speech is usually relatively short, relaying about the bride, and her love and respect for the couple. As long as the speech comes from the heart, it’s sure to be a hit.
8. Make sure the bride eats and drinks
The last thing anyone wants to encounter is a hangry bride. Make sure that the bride eats and be sure to refresh her water glass throughout the night to keep her hydrated.
9. Collect wedding gifts if necessary
Before the wedding, find out where the couple would like their gifts to be transported after the reception. Ensure that the couple’s gifts end up in the right hands and in the correct location when the reception is over.
10. Tie up any other loose ends
From making sure the bride’s wedding gown is properly stored to ensuring that the top tier of the wedding cake ends up in a freezer, talk to the couple about any end-of-the-night duties they'd like the maid of honor to help complete.
11. Help the couple during and post-honeymoon
As the couple heads off on their honeymoon, see if there are any ways you can assist them—particularly if you live nearby. Perhaps you can check in on their house once in a while, dog sit, or bring over groceries before they head home. By helping the newlyweds out after the wedding, you're showing that you'll be there for them for life.
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