Being asked by one of your closest friends or family members to be their maid of honor can inspire a spark of excitement and visions of pretty dresses, parties aplenty and poppin’ bottles all the way down the aisle. And while all of that will very likely be involved, there’s a lot more to this most prestigious post than just the fun stuff that first comes to mind. So, freshly minted maids of honor, if you’ve just said “Yes,” it’s time to grab a glass of vino, settle in and get ready for a glimpse into your future.
Here’s exactly what to expect as a maid of honor.
You’ll be the point person for the rest of the bridal party.
Everyone will respect the fact that the marrieds-to-be will be stressed and busy to the max during the months leading up to the wedding, so instead of going to them for questions, they’ll all very likely go to you as the unofficial liaison. So, be ready to manage that delicate (and, let’s be real, sometimes downright annoying) task of relaying all the important info (like outfit requirements, transportation logistics and scheduling) to the people who need to know.
If you’re bursting with the urge to scream, “Why are you asking me! I’m not the bride!” after the fifth wedding party member asks you what hotel they’re supposed to make reservations at again, take a deep breath, count to five, and try your hardest to stay calm. Remember what a huge help your being to your bride (or groom–whatever side you’re on!) and remember that they picked you for this job because they trusted you to be a kick-butt wedding party wrangler. To make things easier and more organized, you can set up regular catch-up calls or emails with the marrying couple to gather any info they’d like you to share with the wedding party, that way you know no one’s missing a beat.
You’ll be a party planner—and maybe assistant wedding planner.
Your most obvious “job” will be leading the charge of planning the engagement party (if there is one), the bridal shower, and the bachelorette party. It’ll be up to you to source the guest lists, be in charge of themes and decor, round up gifts and money, and be on top of anything that could possibly go wrong. Not to mention, you’ll be the one that makes sure these events are exactly within the bride (or groom’s) taste and vision, which won’t be difficult since you very likely know everything there is to know about her or him!
But, beyond planning these parties (which, don’t worry, you have every right to enlist tons of help from your fellow bridesmaids and the family members, too), you may also naturally become the couple’s right-hand when it comes to planning the wedding itself. Depending on the their planning style, you might be instrumental in bouncing ideas off of, calling vendors when the marrieds-to-be are too swamped, attending site visits as a second pair of eyes when one of them can’t make it, and so on.
Don’t get overwhelmed—you’re not expected to be a wedding expert! The most you need to do is just be there for the couple and let them lean on you when they need to. If you’re not yet married but hope to walk down the aisle yourself someday, this will be great training for your future big day (and you can def ask this couple to return your favor), or, if you’re already married, you’ve got experience on your side so this should be a breeze.
You’ll listen to lots of wedding talk.
Lots. No one planning a wedding sets out to become a totally wedding-obsessed, self-centered ball of stress—but sometimes, that’s just what takes over as planning the most important day of their lives becomes more intense. While bridesmaids and friends will likely hear their share of wedding planning ups and downs, no one gets a more all-access, front-row view than the maid of honor!
Like I mentioned above, all you really have to do to do your job well is listen and be empathetic—no one expects you to be a wedding planning wunderkind with all the answers. But while other, less important pals to the couple might be able to gently say, “No more wedding talk please!,” that kind of statement is not an option for you as the bride (or groom’s) right-hand. If you really can’t take another moment of conversation about chair covers, and you also think your half of the couple could use a break too, try a gentle approach from a place of caring: “You seem so stressed, and I think you need a break! Let’s go get a drink and not talk about the wedding for one whole night.” MOH FTW!
You’ll spend money. Maybe a lot of money.
It’s not necessarily groundbreaking information that being a member of someone’s wedding party means ponying up more cash than the average wedding guest—the average ‘maid forks over for their dress, parties, gifts and sometimes hair and makeup, for starters. But as the MOH, you may spend even more, since things like party decor, reservations and more will fall on your plate. Don’t be shy to collect from the rest of the ‘maids when the time comes, but also, you should expect to be the one who throws your card down first, since you’re in charge.
If you’re not exactly flush with cash (heard that!), this is one totally understandable reason to gently and gracefully decline maid of honor status when you’re asked—or ask if you can share the duties (and expenses) with a co-MOH. Money conflicts can really blow up during wedding planning, so you should be open and honest with the couple from the start if you have any financial concerns associated with accepting your post—they’ll understand and they’ll do your best to make sure you’re comfortable! No one should have to go broke for someone else’s wedding—even their best friend’s.
You’ll be the go-to girl on the wedding day.
The hours leading up to a wedding ceremony are—hectic, to say the least. Between flower deliveries, people needing to be styled, fed, and dressed, and important items like rings and vows needing to be passed along to the right hands, there are lots of tasks to complete, all (usually) without the couple being able to see each other. This is also a time when brides, grooms and their families should be kept as zen as possible, and the wedding party has usually already gotten into the champagne, leaving you, the MOH, as prime suspect for errand-runner. You may be the gopher for hair and makeup stylists, photographers, family and friends, even the wedding planner—so be ready and flexible (and maybe don’t put your heels on till it’s time for photos).
This is truly your time to shine as your bride or groom’s most indispensable pal—believe me, they’ll be so grateful when they look back on their perfect day and realize how much you did (and how many miles you sprinted) to make sure everything was in place.
You'll probably have to make a toast.
It’s ultimately up to the marrying couple to decide who speaks at their reception, but traditionally, the best man and the maid of honor give the toasts. If you’re gung ho about accepting MOH status, but the idea of making a speech makes you want to leave it all behind, hold up! It’s a lot less of a terrifying and difficult task than it seems. Maybe you’re not a writer, or not a public speaker, or not much of either, but you are a super-close friend to at least one-half of this marrying couple, and that’s all you need to make a successful speech. Just remember to keep it 50 percent about the bride and groom (or bride and bride or groom and groom) as individuals, 50 percent about the two of them together, and make it a good combination of funny and sentimental.
Keep it on the shorter side—no longer than three minutes—and make sure not to drink too much before it’s your turn. If you’re super nervous, prepare your speech far enough ahead of time before the wedding so you have lots of time to practice (read it to some bridesmaids to test it out!). If you’re still unsure whether you have the cajones to go it alone, ask your bride or groom if you can share the toast with one or a couple of the bridesmaids—that way you won’t have to go it alone! Once you’ve raised your glass and completed your speech, congrats, your MOH duties are pretty much over!
Sound like a lot? It is! But it’s also—as the title suggests—an honor. Not to mention, it’s a great way to be involved in your friend or family member’s big day in a way neither of you will ever forget. You’ll become closer than ever before after the wedding, and, oh yeah, you’ll get some gorgeous photos, a pretty dress and, usually, a pretty sweet gift out of the process, also! Of course, all couples and all weddings are different, so the most important part of your job after accepting the role of MOH is to sit with your bride or groom early on in the process and get the lowdown on exactly what they will need from you in the months to come. That way, you can get all the logistics locked down and focus on the fun part: Making sure your favorite couple has the best day ever!