Guide to being the BEST Maid of Honor
Being chosen as a Maid or Matron of Honor can be the most rewarding, yet terrifying task. I mean, you are only being entrusted with your best friend’s/sister’s biggest day of her life. No big deal, right?? WRONG!
If a bride asks you to be her Maid of Honor, it is a true mark of friendship and trust. It means she feels that confident in you to not only have you stand next to her as she marries the person of her dreams, but she values your opinion enough to have you by her side throughout the entire planning process, which can be anywhere from a month to 2 years!
Not only is she looking for advice about linen colors, venue ideas, and wedding dresses, but she is also trusting you with the role of emotional support leading up to the wedding and on the day itself. Half of you is going to be a work horse, while the other half is an emotional lifeboat.
I won’t lie, it really is a lot of pressure regardless of how “bridezilla” the bride is. It is a big responsibility and at the same time, one of the biggest honors a friend can give to another friend which makes it all worthwhile.
Every Maid of Honor’s duties will vary depending on the bride and their expectations, so it is always smart to have a conversation about what the bride envisions for her wedding and everything leading up to it. That way there are no surprises or disappointments. Are you planning a bridal shower and bachelorette party? Or are you going to be involved with making invitations, going to dress fittings, and tasting the food??
You have a good amount of work in store for you, but hopefully this guide will break it down and help you organize your duties to make it as seamless as possible. As my mother always tells me, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.” And the same goes for planning a wedding!
Through this process, just remember; your main goal is to simply keep the bride as happy as possible and to HAVE FUN with her. You know her best which is why you are her Maid of Honor. Do what you can to just keep her happy so she can prepare for the biggest day of her life, and enjoy every second of it.
To make it easy we have broken it down to sections: Pre-wedding, Wedding Day, & After
BEFORE THE WEDDING DAY
Whether the planning process is only a few months, or the couple has a long engagement. Your duties will for the most part stay the same. This time can be awfully stressful for the bride so you may be doing any or all of the following:
Lead the rest of the bridesmaids.
If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, it is okay to pass on responsibilities to other bridesmaids. It is the MOH responsibility to make sure all bridesmaids are introduced and comfortable with one another. They also should feel comfortable enough with you that they can come to you directly with questions rather than overwhelming the bride with things. The MOH should relay the messages of the bride to the bridal party which includes all festivity details and anything else they should know!
As the maid of honor, you will most likely have more of a say in what you'll be wearing on your friend's wedding day. Help her choose something that will be comfortable and flattering for you and the other bridesmaids.
One the decision is made, make sure everyone has ordered their dresses, track their delivery, and go to dress fittings. Making sure they have the right shoes and accessories is a must also. Maid of Honor traditionally pays for their own attire for the wedding day, but it should be something you address with the bride directly.
Lend a hand with details
Whether or not the bride accepts your help, it is respectful for you to offer with planning details of the wedding. This can include offering to help the bride with prewedding tasks, from addressing invites to choosing the wedding colors and nodding enthusiastically when she discusses wedding cake options.
Depending on how crafty the bride is, she may be undertaking some DIY projects in the days leading up to the wedding, whether that means making favors, hand-lettering envelopes, or creating centerpieces. Volunteer to help her get those projects done with as little stress as possible.
Again, this may or not be something the bride wants you to participate in, but even if you don’t go to the stores to register with her, it is critical that you inform the bridal party and family about where the bride and groom are registered.
Wedding Dress Shopping
Some brides know exactly what they want in a wedding gown. Others will embark on a months-long process to find the perfect fit. Either way, you should expect to be at her side, sipping champagne as she tries on dress after dress — and accessories, of course.
The trick is, be honest when your opinion is asked. But be kind enough to help her find the dress that will make her look and feel her most beautiful. She values your opinion, so don’t be too harsh!
Hosting a Bachelorette Party
Although sometimes the hosting duties for these events fall to other people or are shared by the bridesmaids, oftentimes the responsibility falls to the maid of honor. It is okay to get feedback about what the bride wants and take ideas from all the bridesmaids!
Hosting a Bridal Shower
You may need to be prepared to arrange both, but don't be afraid to turn to other bridesmaids for help if you need it. Also, remember to record her gifts so she can later send “thank you’s” and use those leftover bows, tissues, and ribbon to make her a bouquet for the rehearsal later on!
The months leading up to a wedding are stressful for any bride, and simply being available to chat can do wonders. Even if you haven’t heard from her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want or need your help. Call your friend periodically to check in and make sure that everything's progressing according to plan, and always ask if there's anything you can do to help.
Be that person she can confide in when things aren’t going great!
Give your help & advice when it's requested
This can be tough! You are at liberty to offer help and advice at any time, but unless the bride-to-be takes you up on it, don't try to force your way into helping or offering unwanted opinions. If the bride does ask for your help or advice, go ahead and give it your all!
Keep her laughing
The friendliest reminders about what this is all about can go miles to a bride who is feeling overwhelmed with planning. MAKE HER LAUGH! Remind her of great times, do what you can to take her mind off of the planning even for a moment. It might even bring her back to reality and allow her to make a clear mind when making decisions.
Attend the festivities
Obviously, planning is one thing, but at the end of the day, the bride just wants your presence to make her feel like she’s surrounded by love and support during this time. If the bride is having an sort of gathering for the wedding, your attendance is mandatory!
Write your speech
It is only customary for the Maid of Honor and Best Man to give speeches at the wedding. If the bride says, “I don’t care” you should absolutely give a speech out of respect for her and her fiancé. Put some thought and time into this! It should not be thrown together, it should be well thought out and appropriate.
For a more detailed layout for your speech, check out our “guide to giving the perfect speech.”
It is the bride and groom’s responsibility to plan the details of the rehearsal dinner, but it is always helpful for the MOH to take on the challenges of making sure everyone knows the details of it as well as confirming transportation and lodging if necessary.
THE DAY OF & THE CEREMONY
There are a ton of heightened emotions on your wedding day. It is so important that the Maid of Honor is the bride’s rock, her calming presence and the one stable thing around her if things seem to not be going accordingly to plan.
Know what’s going on
To make the day as easy and stress-free as possible, the less the bride knows, the better. Which means, you need to be the point of contact for the coordinators, guests, or even other bridal party when questions or concerns arise. It is the obligation of the MOH to keep things running smoothly and smear over any hiccups that happen throughout the day. Make sure people have YOUR contact before the wedding day and make sure they are aware they are to come to you and not the bride for problems!
Questions will arise especially in the hours leading up to the ceremony about directions, parking, cancelations, where to set up or even the timeline! Help your bride by knowing the answers to these commonly asked questions so you don’t have to bother her.
Knowing the timeline will also allow for you to keep things on track for you and your bridesmaids. You will know where you should be at all times!
Have emergency contacts
Not only should people have your contact information so you can interfere with any problems, but you should have select family members contact information in case of emergencies.
Organize bridal party
This just simple means that everyone should be accounted for and ready to go at the right time. Even if you have a wedding coordinator, this is critically important. Make sure everyone knows the schedule ahead of time. Try not to be bossy but simply do your best to keep everyone organized to make things go smoothly. Make sure the bridesmaids all have the correct bouquets too!
Whether it’s a bathroom break or a bobby pin, a glass of champagne or a tissue, or even relay a message to the groom, the bride will need things throughout the day. Stay close to her so when things are needed, it’s not stressful for her. This is especially true when the bride is getting ready so you can make sure she has everything she needs to feel beautiful!
You don’t want to suck the fun out of everything, at the end of the day it is a celebration! However, keep an eye out for bridesmaids, groomsmen, or even the bride herself consuming a little too much champagne before the ceremony. A little liquid courage is great, but the bride wants to remember her ceremony and doesn’t want a drunk bridesmaid to take away from her special day, ESPECIALLY for the ceremony.
Sign the Marriage license
Often this is done directly after the ceremony. If not, it will be sometime throughout the evening. It might be a private moment with just the photographer or surrounded by closest family and friends to witness it. Regardless, the MOH traditionally is one of the witnesses for the marriage license alongside the Best Man.
Make sure she looks beautiful from all angles
When she arrives at the altar, make sure her veil and train are situated properly and look beautiful for photos.
Hold her bouquet and the groom’s ring during the ceremony
After she walks down the aisle, she is going to pass her bouquet to you to hold for the remainder of the ceremony. Don’t forget to give them back to her when she walks back down the aisle after they are officially announced as a couple!
Also, if there is not a ring bearer, the Best Man can hold both sets of rings and hand them BOTH to the officiant when the time is right. If the bride wants you to hold his ring, then do so. It helps to wear it on your thumb so you won’t lose it and you can still comfortably hold your flowers and be escorted by your groomsmen.
AFTER THE VOWS & THE RECEPTION
Even though the ceremony may be over, your job is not! Luckily, this is the fun time for everyone, so cut loose and enjoy, just don’t forget your last few duties!
After photos are over and the court is about to be announced for the grand entrance, help mom or whoever else is involved with bustling her dress!
If she is going to change her dress throughout the evening, make sure you are there to make sure she feels just as beautiful in dress #2 as she did in dress #1.
Give your Speech!
This tends to stress many people out, but as previously mentioned, write your speech early, prepare, and have confidence. Remember you are speaking to the bride and groom directly. For more info, please refer to our blog, “guide to giving the perfect wedding day speech”
Make sure they eat!
Many couples never take the time to eat the food they worked so hard to pick. The coordinator should do this as well but make sure they stay hydrated throughout the day and take a moment to themselves to enjoy the dinner that everyone else is enjoying around them.
Be present, be involved!
Participate in the evening’s festivities. Don’t be a bump on a log watching from the sidelines. Mingle with family and friends, meet new guests, be a great host. Step up and help guests find their seats, direct them in the direction of the bathroom, or help in anyway with the flow of the event. Be a hostess!
Dance! When the dance floor is slowing down, hype it back up! There is nothing more a bride wants than to look around on her wedding day and see everyone having a blast.
Wrapping up the Night
Help clean up
This can include the bride’s personal items or helping with things around the venue. Discuss this with the bride to see what the venue is expecting of you that night. Also create a plan of who is going to take home decorations and the bride’s personal items.
Give Away the centerpieces
If the bride doesn’t have a plan for the centerpieces, and doesn’t want to take them all home with her, then make sure and do your best to give them away. It is a great “thank you” gift for family members or people who contributed to making their day great, or even people who may have traveled far to attend. Or else, they end up in the trash!
Make sure gifts and cards are accounted for
Whether you are the person in charge of them or not, make sure the gifts and cards get to the proper car to take home. There would be nothing worse than leaving those unattended or are left forgotten about and the bride and groom never get them!
No matter what your maid of honor duties entails, it’s important to remember one essential rule: Have fun! You’ve been chosen to help a friend navigate one of the most special times of her life, and it’s an experience that will bring you closer than ever before. Embrace it and enjoy it, because your friend will be a Mrs. before you know it.