Maid of Honor Duties Explained: The Ultimate To-Do List 

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I have never been in a bridal line-up before. So, it was with great excitement that I received an appeal from my best friend to be her maid of honor. Here’s the challenge, though. I don’t quite know what the duties of maid of honor are. I know that it seems to be the most glamorous task, seeing that I will be the right-hand woman to the bride at this important event.

So, I set out to find out what a maid of honor duties and responsibilities are. But that’s not all, I wanted to know what accepting maid of honor role meant, the rules to being a maid of honor, as well as the maid of honor duties for bachelorette party and the wedding ceremony. Honestly, my search for knowledge uncovered a lot.

Who Is The Maid Of Honor?

The first thing I did was to get clarity on who the maid of honor actually was. In some places, she goes by the name head bridesmaid or chief bridesmaid. Other acceptable titles are right-hand woman or honor attendant. Oftentimes, the honored role goes to a close female friend or a relative that the bride chooses. Most importantly, whoever the bride-to-be chooses must be someone she trusts and feels close to. In this case, I guess I fit the bill. However, there was still one question the answer to which eluded me: what is the maid of honor supposed to do?

I was dead set on finding the answer because it held the key to figuring out how to be a good maid of honor. After all, my best friend had bestowed this honor on me and I wasn’t going to disappoint her by not rising to the occasion or missing out on certain key responsibilities of the maid of honor. So, I dove head-first into researching about the role of maid of honor.

I learned that the maid of honor is a key component in a wedding ceremony and the bridal party. I would be in charge of various important maid of honor duties, including but not restricted to:

  • Execute the wedding planning process, along with the wedding planner
  • Organize events like the bridal shower, bachelorette festivities, and rehearsal dinner — the coveted maid of honor role in the bridal shower and bachelorette party is the stuff of movies
  • Assist with the bridal party and wedding dress shopping
  • Make the ribbon bouquet and any other accessories the bride will need
  • Give the maid of honor speech or toast on the wedding day — one of the most important duties of a maid of honor on the wedding day
  • Hold the bridal bouquet during the wedding ceremony
  • Adjust the bride’s veil if necessary
  • Be an emotional support to my friend as she goes through the stress of planning for the wedding and even afterward as she survives the first year of marriage, which is the hardest 

Related Reading: 21 Qualities Of A Good Man To Look For To Get Married 

The thought of being the head bridesmaid is a bit intimidating, but something I looked forward to with great excitement. Quite clearly, the maid of honor responsibilities are many and some are not the most glamorous tasks. “Do bridesmaids have similar tasks, too?” a friend witnessing my research asked me. This got me thinking about the maid of honor vs. bridesmaids duties and responsibilities.

What Is The Difference Between A Maid of Honor And Bridesmaids?

maid of honor vs bridesmaids
The bridal party provides support to the bride

Maid of honor vs. bridesmaids — Is there a difference? Well, it turns out there is. Bridesmaids are also typically chosen by the bride and may comprise friends or family members. As part of the bridal party, bridesmaid duties include:

  • Addressing wedding invitations
  • Attending bridesmaid dress fittings
  • Assist in organizing pre-wedding events like the bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, and bachelorette party
  • Holding the bridal bouquet
  • Assist with the bride’s train on the wedding day
  • Help the bride and bridal party where necessary  

To summarize the maid of honor vs. bridesmaids debate, this is what it comes down to. Though the bridesmaids are an integral part of the wedding ceremony, the duties of a maid of honor on the wedding day as well as in the run-up to the big day carry more weight since they are very specific. Please allow me to preen for a second. Bridesmaids can be as many as the bride desires. But there is, typically, only one exclusive maid of honor. She is the go-to resource for the wedding planner and other wedding vendors concerned with the pre-wedding logistics; she could even suggest the best month to get married.

The maid of honor responsibilities make her the right-hand woman who fully represents the bride. Indeed, the bride depends on her to give the wedding guests something to talk about for a long time afterward. She must also ensure the bridesmaid duties are carried out well. Also, as a maid of honor, my dress may differ slightly from what the other bridesmaids will wear. Although, admittedly, this is up to my friend on whether she wants a different style, color, or embellishment for me. She’ll take my comfort into account, of course.

Related Reading: 10 annoying things that I learnt about while planning my own wedding

What Are The Maid Of Honor Duties Before The Wedding

Once hand-picked for this task, one may spend a lot of time wondering, “What to do as a maid of honor?” So, first things first, let’s see if the maid of honor position is as glamorous as it seems to be. Well, this Reddit user had a horrible experience. According to her, “The bride’s mom was terrible to me. I did not know the itinerary and had to cater for expenses I couldn’t afford. While everyone went on holiday, I had to stay behind picking out decorations for the wedding ceremony.”

Clearly, while she may have given a lot of thought to how to be a good maid of honor, the bride-to-be and her family did not return that favor. Unfortunately, due to the experience, her friendship with the bride did not survive. The lesson I learned from her story is to clearly communicate with the bride-to-be so that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations and requirements are concerned.

Speaking of requirements, the maid of honor duties timeline in the wedding planning process can range from six months or even a year. Indeed it comes down to the bride’s preference, the maid of honor’s availability, and length of engagement. I am under no illusion of the fact that the honor of being a maid of honor does come with a significant time investment. I went ahead and put this into perspective by creating an honor duties checklist to see what would be required of me in the coming days.

Maid of honor duties and responsibilities — A few months before the wedding

The role of maid of honor required me to be present a few months before the wedding. There were tons of pre-wedding events to see to. And, of course, I had to get the best bridal shower gift of lace lingerie to spice up the wedding night. My friend depended on me to:

  • Assist with the wedding planning process by selecting the wedding day theme and colors, and creating the wedding timeline
  • Assist, if necessary, with getting relevant licenses and permits 
  • Send out the wedding guests’ invitations 
  • Help the bride and bridal party with wedding dress shopping or selection
  • Together with all the bridesmaids, organize and host the bridal shower and bachelorette party. The maid of honor duties for bachelorette party include ensuring everything is well-planned and that the bride has the time of her life. To be honest, nothing would make me happier than suggesting naughty games to play at the bachelorette party 
  • Attend dress fittings and, of course, provide useful feedback
  • Shop for the perfect maid of honor present for bride

I needed to set aside sufficient time well in advance to fulfill my role as the chief bridesmaid. But hey, I have never been one to back down from a good challenge. I also liked this tip from a Reddit user on the bachelorette party and put it to good use. She says, “Customize things to what the bride wants. Make it personalized so that she has a good time. Don’t be pressured into doing what a family member of the other bridesmaids want.”

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Maid of honor duties checklist — A few weeks before the wedding

Here’s what I’m beginning to realize in my journey of embracing the role of maid of honor: as you begin to get a hang of what to do as a maid of honor, time begins to run out. The stress of the wedding planning will be getting to the bride-to-be and the future groom. At this point, I must remember to share with them my favorite list of hobbies for couples to strengthen their bond. I am sure she will appreciate the gesture as long as she knows that everything is running well. At this stage, my duties in the role of maid of honor entailed the following:

  • Double-check with wedding vendors that the wedding day planning is going as it should (Imagine the wedding cake not being ready on time!)
  • Assist with any relevant pre-wedding tasks, even if it means some DIYs, to see that the day is a resounding success
  • Ensure all the bridesmaids have everything they need, including dresses, schedules, etc.
  • Help the bride-to-be create her wedding vows. Knowing my friend, she is pretty witty and very loving, so this part will be a lot of fun
  • Put together an emergency kit with basic essentials like safety pins, makeup, tissues, etc. The wedding emergency kit can come in handy at the most opportune moment, like if the bride’s makeup starts to run due to the emotions she will be experiencing. And you never know when those safety pins or fashion tape can come in handy

This was the time to start tying up any loose ends. As we got closer to the wedding day, things needed to fall into place. Making sure that they do is one of the biggest responsibilities of the maid of honor.

Related Reading: A Spring Wedding Checklist You Just Can’t Go Wrong With

Maid of honor responsibilities — A week before the wedding

We were now getting to the homestretch. There was plenty of excitement for the big day. But at the same time, there was a lot of stress and worry for everyone involved. That’s why I knew I needed to invest, in advance, in some relaxation gifts to relieve stress. Not only for myself but for the bride-to-be as well. The maid of honor has the following roles and responsibilities a week before the wedding:

  • Participate in the wedding rehearsals
  • Coordinate the pre-wedding festivities such as the rehearsal dinner
  • Ensure the safety of important bridal items like the dress and accessories
  • Lock down the bridal suite and organize all the necessities that the wedding party will need
  • Ensure the bride-to-be has all the emotional support she needs. If she is a ball of nerves six months to the wedding day, I know that it will only get worse  

Maid of honor responsibilities — On the wedding day!

The D-day arrived, and all the hard work was put to the test. Even before the ceremony began, tensions were likely to run high, and I needed all the ideas to get my girlfriend to cheer up and smile. There were still so many things to do as the duties of a maid of honor on the wedding day include the following:

  • Ensure the bridal suite has everything the bride and her bridal party will need
  • Help with getting my friend and the bridal party ready
  • The maid of honor duties in church include holding the bridal bouquet too 
  • Become my friend’s assistant during the wedding ceremony, catering to her every need
  • Keep an eye on important details like how she looks, or any last-minute preparations 
  • Give the maid of honor speech at the reception. This part has me sweating buckets because public speaking is not my thing. I’m planning to write down a funny wedding toast to get everyone laughing 
  • Ensure that the important wedding guests like the groom’s and bride’s mom, father, and family are taken care of — This is an essential part of the duties of maid of honor too

Forget about enjoying the wedding like all the other guests. But seeing a smile on my friend’s face was worth the running around. I felt I had lived up to the responsibilities of the maid of honor.

Maid of honor duties in the church

maid of honor speech
Maid of honor duty is also to give a wedding speech

Unless it’s a non-religious wedding, the church ceremony is an integral part of the event. The maid of honor has the important role of ensuring everything goes well for the bride. So what are the duties of a maid of honor in church? Here’s what to do as a maid of honor to make sure the ceremony goes as flawlessly as possibly:

  • Holding the bride’s bouquet
  • Helping the bride put on the wedding gown and all the relevant accessories
  • As part of the processional, walking down the aisle with the bridesmaids
  • Standing by the bride during the vow ceremony
  • Assisting with the bride’s train and veil 
  • Witnessing the signing of the documents
  • Coordinating the movement of the ring bearer who carries the bride’s and the groom’s rings
  • Assisting with post-wedding photographs, etc.

Can the maid of honor be the ring bearer? In most cases, that job goes to the best man who is tasked with holding the wedding rings and presenting them at the right time. But if the bride wants the maid of honor to do the job, then she can.

And when can the maid of honor leave the wedding? I learned that it depends on the event planning and whether my friend needed me throughout the event. To make sure I could be by her side, I had to ensure all my responsibilities were fulfilled and stayed by her side until the formal wedding ceremony was over. That’s the crux of how to be a good maid of honor — it all comes down to dependability.

Related Reading: Premarital Counseling – 12 Reasons You Should Opt For It

What Are The Maid Of Honor Duties After The Wedding

I am starting to realize why the bride entrusts this duty to someone she truly trusts. Marriage means a lot of things to a woman and she wouldn’t give the task to just anyone. The maid of honor responsibilities do not end with the wedding day. Nope, I will not put up my feet and rest because the bride will be counting on me to tidy things up after the guests have left. The maid of honor responsibilities immediately after the wedding are numerous, such as:

  • Ensure any personal items belonging to my newly married friend are removed from the bridal suite and the wedding party venue and put in a safe place
  • Help the bride get out of her wedding dress. After this, I need to ensure safe storage and cleaning of the dress
  • Ensure all the gifts are taken care of and transported to the bride’s new home

Maid of honor duties and responsibilities continue for days or weeks after the wedding day. Things get less hectic by then. For instance, my friend is already on her honeymoon now. By the time she returns, she may even have learned some harsh truths about marriage and will need my support. Now is the time for the last stage of the maid of honor responsibilities:

  • Assist in sending ‘thank you’ notes to guests
  • Coordinate the return of any rented/borrowed items used during the wedding party
  • Help my best friend collect and preserve memories from the wedding day, e.g., photos and gifts, or other keepsakes like the wedding invitations 
  • Assist with managing all financial obligations
  • Offer ongoing support to my friend if she needs me

Related Reading: 42 Gift Ideas To Say Thank You For Being A Bridesmaid

The tasks may seem daunting laid out like this and make it look like it isn’t the most glamorous task. But I loved being in the thick of things. I realized there was nothing I wouldn’t do to make my friend’s wedding party a resounding success.

Key Pointers

  • Rules to being a maid of honor include clear communication with the bride-to-be in order to be on the same page. Also, it’s important to understand the bride’s personality to avoid clashing with her. Other rules are offering emotional support and being present before, during, and after the event
  • When can the maid of honor leave the wedding? She can leave once all her maid of honor duties are complete, or if there are more specific reasons like personal commitments. Of course, it’s important to keep the bride in the loop through clear communication
  • The maid of honor duties for bachelorette parties include creating the invitation list, choosing the venue, dates, naughty games/activities, and managing finances
  • The maid of honor duties timeline depends on the length of the engagement and bride’s preference. Be ready to spend anywhere from a few months to a year when carrying out your maid of honor duties and responsibilities

It’s only fair to say that I was the right-hand woman to the bride as I took on the maid of honor responsibilities. I was, basically, her eyes and ears for anything related to the wedding and the events around it. These included coordinating the bridal party, logistics, bridal shower, bachelorette party, and more. I hope that gives you a clear answer to what is the maid of honor supposed to do.

Creating an honor duties checklist really helped give me a realistic picture of what the bride expected from me. I also know now that clear communication is critical to ensure that the maid of honor and the bride-to-be are on the same page about their wishes, concerns, needs, and limitations. But you know what? I gave my 110% to the wedding party preparation because I know the day my wedding day rolls around, my best friend will do the same for me.

FAQs

1. What is the point of having a maid of honor?

The duties of maid of honor include offering support to the bride. As the right-hand woman to the bride-to-be, she takes on many roles, including bridal party coordination, choosing the wedding gown, assisting with pre-wedding tasks, and managing the wedding logistics. After the wedding, her duties continue. She takes on the post-wedding support duty of ensuring everything wraps up neatly. The maid of honor is, aside from the groom and bride’s mother, one of the most important people at the wedding party.  

 2. Can a married woman be a maid of honor? 

Absolutely, a married woman can take on the maid of honor responsibilities. However, traditionally, the title was given to unmarried women. For married women, you may find them being referred to as ‘matron of honor.’ Please note the role of maid of honor is based on the relationship between the bride and whoever the bride decides to give the role to. One’s marital status doesn’t matter, so both married and unmarried women can perform the above tasks successfully. 

 3. What does a maid of honor pay for?

Before accepting maid of honor responsibilities, get to know what you may need to pay for. This depends on the bride’s expectations, cultural practices, and your friendship. So what does a maid of honor pay for? She may need to cover costs such as her dress, accessories, hair, and makeup. She might even chip in for pre-wedding events like the bridal shower or the bachelorette party, travel and accommodation for a destination wedding, and getting a maid of honor present for bride or the couple. 

It’s important to be honest about the financial considerations before accepting maid of honor responsibilities. Clear communication is critical to ensuring that everyone’s expectations and limitations are respected.


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