Maid-of-Honor Survival Guide
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
So you've been lucky enough to be appointed the bride's Maid of Honor. Now what?
Being tasked with the important role of serving as a Maid of Honor can seem really daunting. But if you stay organized, budget-conscious, and know your role, it doesn't have to be. When I appointed my sister and best friend as my Maids of Honor, I searched online for a guide or booklet that I could get to guide them through their Maid of Honor duties. I did not find anything adequate, so I decided to make my own that (hopefully) covers all the bases so that others could have a great reference for their Maids of Honor. Sarah and Hannah, this one's for you.
Now that you've got your formal Maid of Honor title, you should know that there are certain duties that you will be responsible for carrying out. Some of these duties go without saying (because you probably do them already as a friend/family member), and some of these duties are a little more demanding. I will share with you the basic duties that you are generally expected to carry out, but you should know that the duties differ for each Maid of Honor. I would totally recommend that you have a conversation with your bride about how involved she might want you to be and how much she wants to depend on you to complete certain tasks. Without further ado, here are the general Maid of Honor expectations:
Emotional Support: perhaps the most important duty that you fulfill as a bridesmaid. Being a bride-to-be and planning a wedding can be an emotional roller coaster and will undoubtedly bring up a lot of feelings and thoughts that are hard to face alone. Having a friend that the bride trusts and can talk to about these thoughts and feelings is HUGE for her. You will especially need to be there for her in the hours leading up to the wedding. She will likely be nervous or scared, and it is also likely she might get cold feet. It is your job to remind her of why she's getting married to her significant other in the first place, and help calm her anxiety and reassure her as she gets ready to walk down the aisle to the man/woman of her dreams.
Sounding Board: the bride will have a lot of ideas about her wedding, bachelorette party, bridal shower, etc. Not all of these ideas will be good or feasible, and it's your job to steer her clear from the ideas that are too crazy.
Help the Bride Pick Out Her Dress: It is very likely that the bride will want you to accompany her to try on different bridal gowns. This means that you are someone whose opinion she holds high and for as much as it may seem like a chore, it really is an honor. Make sure that you don't hurt the bride's feelings, but that you also let her know when a dress just doesn't seem like her or it isn't flattering. You will help her find her dream dress.
Planning the Bachelorette Party: This is one of the biggest duties that you are expected to fulfill. Before you start any planning for the bachelorette party, you should consult with your bride and see if she wants you to help her plan, or if she wants you to plan the whole thing and surprise her. When planning the bachelorette party, you might want to consult the other bridesmaids for ideas and a budget estimate of how much each bridesmaid is willing to spend so you have an idea of what your total budget is. You also might want to ask the bride what kind of vibe she wants for her bachelorette party. Does she want to chill with her girls and play games and make crafts at a fancy Air BnB? Does she want to schedule a spa day? Does she want to go out at night? Does she want strippers? It is so important to know your bride and her taste so that you can giver her the best bachelorette party for her. Don't be afraid to ask the bride questions to make sure that you get it right. Most brides only have 1 bachelorette party, so make it count!
Making Sure Everyone Stays on Schedule on the Big Day: If the bride does not have a wedding planner (or maybe even if she does), then it becomes your job to make sure that the wedding party stays on schedule on the big day. This means that you should have a copy of the wedding timeline for the day. You should know what time the bridesmaids should arrive to start getting ready and you should contact any bridesmaids who are running late to make sure that they'll be there soon. You need to be aware of the time that getting ready should be done and the ceremony should start. If there is a limo pickup, you should know that time as well and be able to give directions to the limo driver if he/she doesn't know where to go. You should know roughly what time dinner starts and when to begin the toasts. You may also be an important factor in helping to end the wedding if there is a hard stop and everyone needs to vacate the venue at a certain time. If the bride has a wedding planner, the timeline should be completely taken care of by the planner. In that case, it doesn't hurt to still have an understanding of the timeline of the day, and I would suggest having a conversation with the bride to see how involved she wants you to be in helping the wedding move along to the schedule. You'll want to make sure the wedding planner is in the loop on your degree of involvement as well.
Help the Bride With Pictures: This means that maybe you have to fan out her dress, or straighten her veil, or maybe hold her dress or veil so that she can get a picture where it looks like she is being swept off of the floor. Sometimes the photographer might ask you to fill in strange roles like that to get that oh so perfect shot. By default, the Maid of Honor is usually the one they ask unless they have an actual assistant. You need to make sure that her hair is in place and that her jewelry is facing the right way for photos. You are basically the fairy godmother that constantly adds the finishing touch on her look.
Holding the Bride's Bouquet During the Ceremony: this one is pretty self-explanatory. You will be the bridesmaid that stands directly next to the bride. Once she walks down the aisle and gets to her soul mate, she will usually hand you her bouquet to hold so that she can hold hands with her future hubby/wifey. You will hand the bouquet back to her before she walks back down the aisle to retreat to her ceremony.
Holding the Bride's Phone During the Wedding: This is a smaller task that you might have to take on. Just make sure that you don't lose her phone! Ask her beforehand if she would like you to take pictures for her, or if she wants to be notified if anyone calls/texts her.
Holding the Bride's Dress in the Bathroom: this one is also pretty self-explanatory. You are at the disposal of the bride for the entire day. Anything she needs, it's your job (or her planner's) to deliver. Some brides are more needy than others. But most WILL need someone to accompany them to the bathroom and make sure that their dress stays clean. That's where her trusty Maid-of-Honor comes in.
Bustling the Bride's Dress (if applicable): If your bride has a dress with a long skirt or train, it will most likely need to be bustled before the reception. This means that it will need to be tied up (these kind of wedding dresses usually come with bustle strings so you will have to match the correct strings and tie them, which will be a tedious task. Bustling the bride's dress means that her skirt will be tied up to be shorter, so that she doesn't trip on it while dancing and mingling at the reception. Sometimes to get the bustle done quicker, you need a couple of designated people working on it. Make sure that if you attend the bride's dress fitting, that you understand how the bustle should be tied when the time comes.
Give a Toast at the Ceremony: This special Maid of Honor task will take some prep work. Usually the bride and groom will have their parents and Maid of Honor/Best Man each give speeches about the couple during dinner. Not sure where to start in drafting your toast? Here are some do's and don'ts:
Do: Talk about when you first met your bride's significant other
Do: Talk about a fun memory with the bride or the couple
Do: Wish the couple a happy marriage
Do: Insert a joke if you're feeling up for it
Do: Give the couple some relationship advice if you have any
Don't: Bring up stories about drunken nights out with the bride or other embarrassing stories
Don't: Talk about times that the bride and groom have fought or argued
Don't: Focus the speech solely on you. Remember that you are there to help celebrate the newlyweds.
Don't: Go over 5 minutes. Try to keep your speech short and sweet. 2-3 minutes is ideal to keep the audience's attention
Last note: Being a Maid of Honor is a tremendous responsibility. If you can't decide who you want your Maid of Honor to be, why not pick two? That way the MOH duties are split evenly and if you pick the right two people for the position, they will compliment each other nicely.
If you follow these pointers, you will be the best Maid-of-Honor that you can be. Just remember a few key things: It's the bride and groom's (or bride's) special day, and this day usually only comes once it a lifetime. It's your job to do whatever you can to make this day special and be the one who stays calm and collected while there may be nothing but chaos and anxiety in the bride's world. You were chosen to be the Maid of Honor for a reason- your bride knew that you could step into the role gracefully and passionately. Don't forget to have faith in yourself during the process. I hope you enjoyed today's post on Maid of Honor duties, and that you learned a thing or two! Feel free to talk about what you learned or ask questions in the comments. And stay tuned for a future blog post on planning a bachelorette party!