Congratulations on being chosen to be a maid (or matron) of honor!* Though there are some duties that come with the position, what it truly means is that the bride considers you to be her best friend and confidante, someone she wants by her side on her big day.
Now that you have the honor of holding this title, what exactly are the maid of honor duties? Traditionally, a maid of honor will lead the charge for planning bridal festivities (think the bridal shower and the bachelorette party). Arguably the most important maid of honor duty is to support the bride through the stressful and joyful parts of wedding planning. As a part event planner, bridesmaids peacekeeper, and financial manager, the maid of honor needs to be able to wear multiple hats and lend a helping hand when called upon. Don’t be afraid to enlist help from the rest of your bridesmaids because you can’t shoulder every burden! Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your place of honor.
*Note: Maids and matrons of honor have the same responsibilities—the only difference is a matron of honor is married, while a maid of honor is not. A bride, of course, may choose to have both.
Photo: Julie Cate Photography
MAID OF HONOR DUTIES BEFORE THE WEDDING
6-12 MONTHS OUT:
You may be thinking, “6-12 months out?! Why do I need to plan so far in advance if it’s not even my wedding?” Depending on how involved the bride would like you to be, maid of honor responsibilities should be spread out over time, rather than isolated to wedding-day tasks. Below are some ideas to consider.
- Collaborate with the bride on her vision for pre-wedding festivities.
After your bestie gets engaged, meet with her within 1-2 months to determine if she wants traditional parties to take place. This includes an engagement party, the bridal shower, and the bachelorette party. If she only needs help with activities, start asking her questions to get a clearer idea of what she’s envisioning. Understand what type of celebrations she has envisioned. Does she prefer more intimate gatherings in a casual location with close friends or a larger event at commercial locations? This will give you an idea of how far in advance you’ll need to plan. Many vendors become booked six months or more out in advance, so the earlier you can figure out the bride’s wishes, the better.
- Initiate virtual/in-person introductions with all the bridesmaids.
Once you’ve figured out a general idea of what the bride wants, you should reach out to the rest of the “I-do crew” to set up introductions and see who may be able to help with party planning. If bridesmaids are located in different cities, a welcome email or group web chat can be a fun first correspondence. Use this introduction to see what calendar dates may work best for the group to hold an event.
- Go wedding dress shopping with the bride (if that’s what she wants).
It is a great honor to be asked to go wedding dress shopping with a bride. This means she values your opinion. Take it upon yourself to remind the entourage that they’re not judges on Project Runway and that the goal of the trip is to ensure the bride feels confident and happy in her dress.
- Coordinate bridesmaid attire.
After the bride has indicated which dress or style she wants her bridesmaids to wear and explained if she’s covering any bridesmaid expenses, you should touch base with each bridesmaid to ensure they have their wedding attire sorted out prior to the wedding day.
- Assist the bride with wedding correspondence preparations.
Help the bride do her homework. Research options to purchase coordinating save-the-dates, invitations, and how to set up a free wedding website. With Minted, you can even order free wedding invitation samples to better understand what gold foil, gloss press, or double-thick paper stock looks and feels like.
- Be a good friend
The amount of tasks to complete before a wedding can be overwhelming and sometimes the bride needs to be reminded that she’s more than just a bride. This can range from texting funny memes, taking her on a new hiking trail, or having her over for a movie night with a strict no-wedding-talk rule.
3-6 MONTHS OUT
- Help the bride choose and assemble her invites.
If the bride is on the fence about what invite design they should choose, there’s a good chance she’ll turn to you for your great eye. Fulfill your maid of honor responsibilities by guiding the bride through their decision. Once the invitations are ordered, schedule a time where you can help the bride assemble them all and place them in the mail. Feel free to reference our guide to assembling the wedding invites!
- Attend as many dress fittings as you can.
What does a maid of honor do at the dress fitting you ask? Sometimes insecurities can bubble to the surface when trying on clothes. Your maid of honor duty is to help give constructive feedback for tailoring needs while reassuring that she feels just as beautiful as she looks.
- Prep for the bridal shower.
Once you’ve figured out who will be hosting the bridal shower, now’s the time to dive deep into your preparation! Make sure to make venue reservations as early as possible or secure the date and availability at a family or friend’s house in advance. Decide on a bridal shower theme and set up a meeting with the bridesmaid or host to delegate different tasks like food preparation, decor, and game selection. Establishing an initial budget will help with overspending. Traditionally, the maid of honor may take on all the expenses of the bridal shower or split it with the rest of the bridal party or willing family members (like the bride’s mom).
- Begin planning the bachelorette party.
Even if you’re making the bachelorette a surprise, it’s important to have some direction from the bride. You’ll need to know who she wants to be invited to the party and confirm a couple of dates that would work with her schedule. It’s also important to have candid conversations with the other attendees regarding what they are comfortable spending on the bachelorette party, as that may affect the type of party held. For more tips and tricks, we’ve outlined a detailed timeline for how to plan a bachelorette.
"Float" by Sarah Brown
1-3 MONTHS OUT
- Host or lead the bridal shower
If you plan on having the bridal shower two months before the wedding, bridal shower invites should be sent out 6-8 weeks in advance. The invite should include important info like the date, location, and gift direction. If you are struggling with how to compose your party invitation, review our article on how to word a bridal shower invitation.
During the bridal shower, it’ll be important for you to help the bride take notes on who gave her what gift, so she’ll know who to thank afterward. If the bride wants to stick with wedding tradition, save the ribbons from the presents to make a ribbon bouquet for the bride to use at her rehearsal.
- Begin writing your speech
For most, the maid of honor duty you are probably least excited about is giving a speech at the reception. This doesn’t have to be a frightening task! Correct preparation and practice can yield good results. Follow the tips below to get you started.
1. Look online for inspiration. - There are a lot of great maid of honor videos out there that you can quickly watch. Note which ones you liked the most and why you liked them.
2. Set small goals for yourself. - No one’s asking you to write your whole speech in one sitting. Create deadlines where you finish one portion of the speech each week.
3. Play on your strengths. - Not particularly a funny person? Don’t force yourself to be! Instead, focus on what you’re good at. This can range from telling a fun story about how you and the bride met or simply sharing with the bride how much she means to you. Authenticity is always appreciated.
4. Practice, but don’t over practice - Rehearse your speech to at least one other person for some constructive feedback. Continue to practice your speech at home so that it seems natural and free-flowing later on.
- Help organize travel logistics for the group of bridesmaids.
What does the maid of honor do regarding travel planning and day-of scheduling you might ask? If the couple doesn’t have a comprehensive wedding planner, you’ll need to step up and communicate with the bridal party what the schedule will be like for the wedding weekend. When do the bridesmaids need to be in attendance for the rehearsal, the hair and makeup preparation, and other key events during the weekend? Common questions to consider are:
1. What time and day is the bridal party supposed to arrive?
2. Will a hotel stay be covered? If not, can bridesmaids make reservations at any hotel that they want?
3. Is the bridal party expected to drive themselves to the ceremony location?
WEEK LEADING UP TO WEDDING
- Check-in with the bride.
It’s crunch time now. An often overlooked maid of honor responsibility is offering your help with family members during the week of the wedding. Tasks like picking up out-of-town relatives from the airport or even volunteering to watch the bride’s kids while she receives a facial will surely be appreciated.
- Make sure you’re prepared for your reception speech
- Prepare a wedding emergency kit
You can never be over-prepared!
- Share out a detailed wedding weekend schedule
This is for your sanity too. You don’t want 20 different people asking you the same schedule question over again.
- Ask questions at the wedding rehearsal.
Understand that the bride may have a bunch of things running through her head during the wedding rehearsal. Take it upon yourself to ask processional order and timing questions to make sure everyone knows the game plan for the wedding day. Planning ahead for the small details will prevent any awkward moments during the big day.
ON THE WEDDING DAY:
You may want to print out the below sections to carry with you throughout the wedding ceremony. You can then scan this list of maid of honor duties throughout the day to guarantee you are helping out to the fullest potential.
BEFORE THE CEREMONY:
- Act as a messenger for the bride.
If the bride wants to send her partner a note or a gift, it’ll be your job to run it over to them as she’ll be busy getting ready. Consider bringing an extra pair of comfortable shoes for errands, as you don’t want to tire your feet out before the day begins.
- Play hostess and gatekeeper.
The maid/matron of honor has the responsibility of checking in on other important members of the bride’s entourage. Asking the bride’s mom if she needs water or checking in on her soon-to-be mother-in-law are great ways to keep everyone happy that morning. You’ll also need to watch out for extended family members that are known to stress your bride out. If they’re not invited to the bridal suite, make sure they don’t find their way in.
- See if vendors are in place
If a wedding coordinator isn’t on hand on the day of the wedding, it’ll be your duty to keep track of vendor arrivals and payments. Creating a list of phone numbers and separate tip envelopes beforehand will help you manage what needs to be done.
- Hold onto the bride’s phone (if she prefers to be unplugged).
- Arrange the bride’s train and veil
Make it your responsibility to ensure the bride looks great in her wedding photos. No one wants to look back on wedding photos to find a scrunched up train that ruins the beauty of an elegant dress. Outside of the photographer and the bride herself, you’re the bride’s last line of defense for picture mishaps.
- Pack away a few tissues inside your bouquet for any tears the bride or you may have
DURING THE CEREMONY:
Now that you’ve made it to the ceremony, your maid of honor duties are a lot simpler. Don’t forget to:
- Arrange the bride’s train and veil once she gets to the altar
- Hold the bride’s bouquet during the exchange of vows
- Hold the groom’s wedding ring until the exchange of rings
AFTER THE CEREMONY:
- Sign the marriage license as a witness.
- Hand back the bride’s phone to her or continue holding for safekeeping.
- Make sure the bride eats and drinks enough water.
- Escort her to the ladies room (and assist her with her gown, if needed).
DURING THE RECEPTION:
- Help the bride fix any hair flyaways before she makes her rounds to take photos with guests.
- Give your maid or matron of honor speech!
- Encourage guests to make it out to the dance floor.
Nothing kills the mood of a party more than an empty dance floor. Once the bride and groom start dancing, grab some friends to join them to help get the party started. Even if dancing isn’t your cup of tea, it’s your maid of honor duty to help bring people together.
AFTER THE RECEPTION:
- Collect gifts and cards brought to the reception and store them for safekeeping.
- Distribute tip envelopes to vendors (if needed and if you haven’t already).
- Help the bride change and store the dress until after the honeymoon.
Take a deep breath and relax. You’re finally finished with your maid of honor responsibilities!