Congratulations! Having the chance to be your bestie’s maid of honour is so exciting – you’re about to play a leading role in the biggest day of her life!
The maid of honour is sometimes referred to as “chief bridesmaid” or the “matron of honour” (if she is already married), and she has various duties and ways she must help the bride.
Your friend or sister is going to need your support both in the run up to the wedding and on the big day itself – there’s much more to it than just planning the hen party, y’know!
To get an idea of what your maid of honour duties are, here’s everything you need to know.
Before the Wedding
Go Dress Shopping
Image: Jacqui McSweeney
Once the bride has decided on her bridesmaids, the maid of honour should start helping the bride with some of the planning duties. The bride might ask you to come wedding dress shopping with her, or ask for input on choosing the bridesmaid dresses.
As the maid of honour, you’re leading the rest of the bridesmaids so make sure they’re all organised. Help to round everyone up for dress shopping sessions and for fittings. Take some stress off the bride by planning the itinerary for any dress shopping days out – look for a fun place to go for lunch and if you need to book appointments at any of the shops, make sure you’ve left enough time to navigate from place to place.
It’s traditional for the bride to pay for the bridesmaid dresses, however this isn’t always the case. Make sure this is discussed – as well as accessories, professional hair and makeup – to save any awkwardness.
READ MORE: The Hottest Bridesmaid Dresses of the Year
Organise the Other Bridesmaids
As the wedding date fast approaches, make sure the bridesmaids know what time they need to arrive, where everyone is getting ready and if there’s anything they need to bring.
Think about useful things to have to hand – such as large umbrellas to help in case of bad weather. It’s also a nice idea to put together a bridal emergency kit for the bride. You never know when you might need tissues or plasters!
READ MORE: The 16 Types Of Bridesmaids You’ll Meet
Plan the Hen Party
Image: Jacqui McSweeney
The maid of honour’s real moment to shine is the hen party. You will take the lead in organising this so make sure you put a lot of thought into it. Consult all the bridesmaids for ideas and ask the bride who she’d like to attend.
It might be that you need to arrange two celebrations: a hen party for the girls and a more mature, bridal shower style celebration that the bride’s mum and older relatives can attend.
Rather than ask people what dates they can do, pick two or three and ask who can make which date. This is a slightly harsher approach but it’ll make it easier to narrow it down to just one weekend.
Make sure you’re also aware of everyone’s budget – there’s not much point organising the bride’s dream party weekend in Marbella when her friends don’t have the funds.
The hen party should take place up to three months before the wedding – this gives time for any bruises to fade if it’s a particularly active hen party, or for people to recover from their hangovers! With three months to go, the maid of honour should be thinking about little details to make the hen party extra special.
Share out some of the hen party duties with the other hens to make life easier – one can compile a hen party book to present to the bride, another can put together hen party gift backs (we have a round up of hen party bag fillers to inspire you) and one can organise bridal shower games or hen party dares.
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Help with Wedding Planning
Image: Sarah Fulton
You may be the bride’s sounding board for lots of ideas – be prepared to consult on everything from wedding colour schemes to the shape of the wedding cake. As well as ideas, you may need to give advice and support if it all gets a bit stressful.
The maid of honour can also help with more hands-on wedding tasks: writing or addressing wedding invitations, making DIY confetti cones or assembling homemade favours. Be ready to help (with a smile!), as this is all part of the role.
Once the invitations are out, you might be required to help organise the RSVPs or filter through the menu choices if the bride has a lot to look at.
The Day Before the Wedding
Image: Jordanna Marston
If there are any hired items that need collecting, you can help out by offering to pick them up so the couple aren’t stressing about these things the day before their wedding.
The maid of honour might be needed to help set up the reception room the night before, if the venue allows this, and you might also accompany the bride to any last minute beauty appointments, such as a manicure and pedicure.
If you’re staying with the bride the night before, it’s a great idea to put together a sleepover kit – think hot chocolate, champagne, sweets and some classic wedding themed films, as well as some beauty treatments (but avoid anything new – you don’t want to risk a breakout the day before the wedding).
On the Wedding Day
Help the Bride Get Ready
Image: Sacha Miller
The big day has finally arrived, and the thing you’ll need to prioritise is to help the bride get ready.
She might need assistance with her hair and makeup, or help getting into her wedding dress. You should also make sure the bride has a good breakfast – we’ve got breakfast ideas for the morning of your wedding to inspire you.
If the flowers are being delivered, make sure they’re all present and correct, and hand out everyone’s bouquet before you head to the ceremony.
The maid of honour, bridesmaids and the bride’s mum traditionally travel to the ceremony together and leave ten minutes before the bride so they’re there to see her arrive.
Before the bride goes into the wedding ceremony, make sure she looks picture-perfect by helping to arrange her hair and veil and then walk down the aisle. Whether the bridesmaids go before or after the bride depends on the style of entrance you opt for – it’s a British tradition for the bride to go first, but many prefer the American format of the bridesmaids leading the way – saving the bride ‘til last.
READ MORE: Our Favourite Celebrity Bridesmaids
Hold the Bride’s Bouquet
Image: Sacha Miller
During the wedding ceremony, you will need to hold the bride’s bouquet – you may also be asked to give a reading or to be a witness whilst the newlyweds sign the register.
After the ceremony, the happy couple will leave first and the maid of honour and best man will follow together.
Stand in the Receiving Line
Image: Joseph Kinerman
At the reception, if there is a receiving line, you will need to join the newlyweds to greet the guests as they arrive for the wedding breakfast. If there is a gift table, help by taking the presents and displaying them.
The maid of honour is traditionally seated on the top table along with the happy couple, their parents and the best man. If there’s a different line up on the top table, it may be that you are seated among the guests, ‘hosting’ a table of your own.
READ MORE: Check Out Our Digital Table Planner!
Give a Speech or a Reading
Image: Sally Rawlins
Depending on what the couple decide, you may be required to give a reading during the ceremony.
The couple might also want you to give a maid of honour speech at the reception. If you’re feeling a little unsure, check out our guide on how to overcome wedding speech nerves!
You might also want to read some of our maid of honour speech examples if you need a helping hand with what to say.
Keep the Bride Looking Fabulous!
Image: Kevin Fern
As the day goes on, the maid of honour might need to help the bride if she needs to go to the bathroom – it can be tricky in a wedding dress!
It also helps to be on makeup duty – be ready to correct smudges if needed.
Share a Dance with the Best Man
Image: J Bidmean
It is tradition for the maid of honour is expected to share a dance with the best man.
This is usually after the couple’s first dance to encourage everyone to join them on the dance floor. It’s time to get the party started!
Clear the Bridal Suite
Image: Sally Rawlins
If you and the rest of the bridal party enjoyed getting ready for the big day in the bridal suite, it might have been left a bit of a mess.
So that the room is clean and tidy for the happy couple on their first married night together, it’s a nice idea to head up there during the reception and have a quick tidy up. The bride will really appreciate it.
After the Wedding
Return Hired Clothes & Tidy the Venue
Image: Jordanna Marston
If the newlyweds jet off on honeymoon straight away, you might be asked to help out by returning any hired clothes or accessories and by storing the bride’s dress until she’s back and ready to collect it.
She may also be needed to help remove decorations and gifts from the wedding venue.
Top Tips for the Maid of Honour
Image: Phru Phru
- Set up a bridesmaids group chat on Facebook or WhatsApp so you can help to organise everyone! this will come in handy when arranging for everyone to get together to try on dresses and for organising the hen party!
- Put together a sleepover kit for the night before the wedding – even if you’re not staying with the bride, she’ll love that her bestie has picked out cosy PJs, happy-ever-after wedding movies and treats to indulge in on her last night as a single lady.
- Make sure you have an emergency kit assembled for the day of the wedding – have chalk to neutralise any wedding dress stains, translucent powder for touch ups, lip gloss, tissues, needle and thread etc.
- Have a sense of humour – remember, this is your best friend so when it all gets a bit much do what you can to make her laugh, or at least smile.
- Keep the bride fueled on the big day – she’ll be so busy talking to guests and mingling she will struggle to get drinks and snacks. Be indispensable by bringing drinks and food to her.
- Talk to the groom – every bride dreams about opening a gorgeous wedding day gift and reading a romantic love note from their other half on the morning of their wedding but most grooms don’t realise this is a ‘thing’. Make sure the groom knows to surprise his bride on the big day!
- Finally, don’t be grumpy – it might seem like sometimes all you hear is wedding chat, but remember this is a huge occurrence in your friend’s life and it won’t last forever. Smile and be supportive, even if the difference between wedding chairs means nothing to you; to the bride it’s a huge deal.
Remember an excellent maid of honour can make the world of difference when it comes to wedding planning – it’s an honour to be picked as one so do everything you can to help and avoid being a bad bridesmaid.