Having the opportunity to support your bestie through the most special time of her life as her maid of honour is super exciting as well as a lot of work! The maid of honour has a number of duties and ways they need to help the bride.
Unsure on what your maid of honour role entails? Don’t worry, we’ve put together this useful guide covering the key jobs the maid of honour does and answering some of the most frequently asked questions about maids of honour.
Firstly, how is a maid of honour different from a bridesmaid?
Maid of honour and bridesmaid are both essential parts of the overall wedding and more specifically supporting the bride. However, the maid of honour usually has more responsibilities than a bridesmaid. The latter is only expected to help the bride choose bridesmaid dresses, walk down the aisle at the wedding, and any other small things the bride needs assistance with on the big day. Whereas the maid of honour has more to do in the planning and build up to the wedding as well as on the day itself.
Where does ‘maid of honour’ come from?
The 'maid of honour' is a tradition of having an unmarried woman attend to a queen or princess. The role also dates back to Ancient Rome, when it was believed that evil spirits could haunt weddings.
So, to keep the couple safe, 10 witnesses – including the maid of honour – had to wear the same clothes as the couple to confuse the spirits. It was the job of the maid of honour to stay close to the bride and protect her from any spirits trying to steal her away before the ceremony.
Can you have two maids of honour?
Yes. It’s up to the bride to decide whether she wants two maids of honour supporting her through wedding planning and the special day. It can make things a lot easier for the bride who might be feeling the pressure to choose one person. In addition, the maids of honour will be able to have each other to divide the duties, which will help take away some stress.
What is the maid of honour’s duties?
Before the wedding
Go dress shopping
Shopping for a wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process, but it can also be very stressful. Hence why the maid of honour should be there to help the bride choose her perfect dream dress. As the maid of honour, the bride may invite you to go wedding dress shopping with her or request your help in selecting the bridesmaid dresses.
You’re leading the rest of the bridesmaids, so it’s important to make sure they’re organised. Help to get everyone together for dress shopping or fitting sessions. You can take some stress off the bride by setting out an itinerary for dress shopping days out, look for a nice place to go for lunch, and if you need to book appointments at any of the shops, check you’ve got enough time to move from place to place.
Manage the other bridesmaids
As the wedding date approaches, make sure the bridesmaids know when and where they need to be, and if there's anything they need to bring. If the bridesmaids don’t all know each other, it can be beneficial to connect them in a group chat. This will help them get to know each other and be on friendly terms ready for the hen party.
Consider some useful things to have with you like big umbrellas in case of bad weather. Also, putting together a bridal emergency kit can be a nice gesture for your bestie. Tissues and plasters are pretty much guaranteed to be needed at some point!
Plan the hen party
This is the most common and widely acknowledged job of the maid of honour. You will take charge in planning it so it’s important that you put a lot of thought into it. Speak to the bridesmaids to get ideas and inspiration and ask the bride who she wants to be there. You might need to have two celebrations: a hen party for the girls and a more mature bridal shower for the bride's mum and older relatives.
Instead of inviting chaos by asking people what dates they can do, choose two or three and ask who can attend which date. This might seem like a bit of a harsh approach, but it will make your life a lot easier in narrowing it down to just one weekend. Also, be mindful of everyone’s budget, there’s no point in planning a party weekend in Marbella if her friends can’t afford to go.
The hen party should happen around three months before the wedding. This allows time for any bruises or injuries to fade if it’s an especially active hen party, or for everyone to recover from their hangovers. The maid of honour should be thinking about ways to make the hen party extra special for the bride with just three months to go.
Help with wedding planning
For a more indecisive bride, you could be her sounding board to run her ideas by. You should be ready to talk about everything from colour schemes to the shape of the wedding cake if that’s what the bride needs. The maid of honour can also help with more hands-on jobs like wiring or addressing wedding invitations, constructing DIY confetti cones, or putting together homemade favours.
When the invites have been sent out to friends and family, you may be needed to help organise the RSVPs or look through the menu choices if the bride has too much on her plate.
On the wedding day
Assist the bride with getting ready
When the day of the wedding arrives, the main priority should be helping the bride get ready. She may need help with her hair and makeup or getting into her dress. Make sure the flowers are there and are correct before handing out bouquets to the bridesmaids for the ceremony. The maid of honour, bridesmaids, and the bride’s mum typically travel together to the ceremony, with the bride arriving about ten minutes later.
Hold the bride’s bouquet
During the ceremony, you will be the one to hold the bride’s bouquet. You might also be asked to be a witness whilst the couple sign the register.
Give a speech or reading
The couple might ask you to do a maid of honour speech to the wedding party during the reception.
Tidy the bridal suite
If you and the rest of the bridal party used the bridal suite to get ready in, it may have been left in a bit of a mess. It’s a nice idea to go up there during the reception and tidy it up for the married couple to spend their first night together in.
Being a maid of honour isn’t as simple as getting drunk at the hen party and showing up for the big day, there are many responsibilities involved to help relieve some stress from the bride. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a very special role that you and the bride and bond over and have fun with.
If your bride and the rest of the party are shopping for bridesmaid dresses UK, don’t forget to check out our beautiful new collection, here at Maids to Measure. As well as bridesmaid dresses, we also have stunning maid of honour dresses if your bride wants you to stand out and have a different dress from the other girls.