bride and bridesmaids with their bouquets

What Does a Maid of Honor Do, Exactly?

Dec 18, 2023
By Wedding Spot

So, you’ve said or heard the second most important “yes” in your life, but now you need to start planning everything else. And that includes your wedding party—in fact, that will likely be one of the elements you’ll want to plan early. So now, you're wondering… what does a maid of honor do, exactly? It’s a role that comes with responsibilities, from planning pre-wedding events to providing unwavering support on the big day. But don’t worry, we’re here to demystify it for you!

This comprehensive guide aims to outline the duties of a maid of honor, from the initial stages of wedding planning to the joyous finale, while also offering tips to manage the relationship amidst the potential stress and expectations. Whether you are the bride or the maid of honor, keep reading to discover exactly how to have a memorable and fun journey leading up to the special day.

What does a maid of honor do before the wedding?

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Build a support and encouragement system

As soon as you accept or award the role of maid of honor, it's essential that the chosen party becomes a source of support for the bride. What does that mean, exactly? Listen to the bride’s ideas, concerns, and dreams for the wedding and offer encouragement every step of the way. Anything else is considered above and beyond so be sure to establish boundaries for this new phase of your friendship!

Assist in the wedding planning when asked

The maid of honor plays a crucial role in helping with wedding planning. As the maid of honor, you can offer to go wedding dress shopping, visit potential venues, and assist with researching vendors. Your involvement can make the process smoother and more enjoyable for the bride.

And brides—don’t be afraid to ask! As long as your maid of honor understands they’re free to say no without guilt, you should be good to go.

Organize and host pre-wedding events

The maid of honor will typically coordinate and plan pre-wedding events, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party. If they do, they’ll need to involve the bride in the planning process to ensure her preferences are considered while keeping the events (or elements of them) a surprise.

Pro tip: Some families prefer to host the bridal shower themselves so be sure to check in about expectations with your bride before moving full steam ahead. In fact, many traditional elements of wedding etiquette and planning have been changing in recent years, so it’s probably worth checking in with the couple to make sure everyone is on the same page about who plans what.

And don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of info if you want to know more about bridal party responsibilities for every role.

Manage Communication

The maid of honor does a lot of things but one of their most important roles is managing communication. They are the #1 liaison between the bride and the bridal party, keeping everyone informed about important dates, dress fittings, and other arrangements. They may even be in charge of choosing how the information is shared (email thread versus Facebook group or Discord) and will be on the front lines when questions or problems arise.

Effective communication can prevent misunderstandings and keep everyone on the same page. And no, it’s not unheard of to have a frank discussion about how to handle unexpected drama and disagreements. We even recommend it!

Once the big day has come, here’s what the maid of honor is expected to do

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Be there for extra emotional support

On the wedding day, be a pillar of emotional support for the bride. Help keep her calm and reassure her that everything will go smoothly! Keep difficult family members at bay, wrangle the bridal party, and generally be prepared to take on anything that comes your way.

Assist with dressing

The maid of honor can help the bride with her veil, her train, her jewelry, bouquet, and whatever else needs fixing to make sure she looks her most beautiful!

Keep the bridal party organized

Make sure everyone is aware of their roles and timelines. Help them get ready on time and let them know when and where to be for photos and the ceremony. Keep an extra cell phone charger on hand just in case, so everyone can be reached throughout the day. 

Hold the bouquet and groom's ring

During the ceremony, be prepared to hold the bride's bouquet and the groom's ring until they are needed. This small but crucial task allows the bride and groom to focus on their vows. 

Maid of honor duties after the wedding

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Assist with gift management

After the wedding, help the bride and groom with gift management, making sure they are delivered to their intended destinations—especially if the couple is leaving for their honeymoon right away.

Attend to the bride's dress and personal belongings

Assist the bride in preserving her wedding dress and packing her personal belongings for the honeymoon or post-wedding festivities.

Offer emotional support

Even after the wedding, continue to be a source of support for the bride. Post-wedding blues can be common, and your presence can make a significant difference during this transitional period. Not to mention, there’s a lot to do for the couple when it comes to sending out thank you cards and squaring away logistics! You might be a welcome outlet to vent about any continued stressors.

Our favorite tips for navigating stress and expectations

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  • Set clear expectations from the start. Openly discuss the bride's expectations and your availability as the maid of honor. This ensures that both parties are on the same page and helps avoid misunderstandings down the road.
  • Create a planning timeline. Develop a planning timeline with key milestones, deadlines, and tasks. This can help both the bride and the maid of honor stay organized and reduce last-minute stress.
  • Delegate responsibilities. Enlist the help of other bridesmaids or close friends to share some of the responsibilities. Delegating tasks can lighten the load and foster a sense of camaraderie among the bridal party.
  • Communicate effectively. Clear and open communication is the key to a successful relationship during wedding planning. Regularly check in with the bride, and don't hesitate to share your feelings or concerns.
  • Take time for self-care. Wedding planning can be overwhelming, so remember to take time for self-care. Engage in activities that help you relax and recharge, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time with friends.

More A’s to your maid of honor Q’s

What are the maid of honor's responsibilities?

It's important to note that the specific duties of the maid of honor can vary based on cultural traditions and the preferences of the bride. However, the underlying purpose remains constant: to be there for the bride, providing support, love, and a helping hand in creating cherished memories on her special day.

Does the maid of honor walk alone?

Traditionally, the maid of honor does not walk alone during the wedding procession. Instead, she typically walks down the aisle alongside the best man, the groom's counterpart in the wedding party. The pair may walk side by side or slightly staggered, with the best man usually positioned to the right of the maid of honor.

Does the maid of honor get the bride a gift?

Yes, it is customary for the maid of honor to give the bride a gift as a token of their friendship and support. The gift serves as a thoughtful gesture to express gratitude for being chosen as the maid of honor and to commemorate the special occasion of the wedding.

As for how much to spend on the gift, there is no strict rule or set amount. The cost of the gift will vary based on the maid of honor's budget, her relationship with the bride, and the overall gift-giving customs among friends or family members. Keep in mind that the meaning behind the gift will always be worth more than the price tag. And if you’re worried about expectations, refer to the golden rule: communication between the bride and the maid of honor will resolve your confusion.

How much does it cost to be a maid of honor? 

The cost of being a maid of honor can vary widely depending on several factors, including the location of the wedding, the bride's expectations, and the maid of honor's own choices. Here are some potential expenses that the maid of honor might incur:

  • Bridesmaid dress
  • Shoes and accessories
  • Hair, makeup, and nails
  • Bridal shower and bachelorette party
  • Travel and accommodation
  • Wedding gift
  • Misc. wedding contributions (i.e. group gifts, paying for dinner at the bachelorette party, etc.)
  • Rehearsal dinner

Why should someone say yes to being a maid of honor? 

Saying yes to being a maid of honor is a meaningful decision that goes beyond simply fulfilling a role in a wedding party. It is a heartfelt opportunity to honor a deep and cherished friendship. Accepting this role demonstrates a profound commitment to supporting the bride during one of the most significant milestones of her life.

As the maid of honor, one can be a constant pillar of emotional support, offering a listening ear and a helping hand throughout the wedding planning process. From dress shopping and bridal showers to the bachelorette party, there are numerous opportunities to create lasting memories with the bride and the entire wedding party.

Ultimately, saying yes to being a maid of honor is an expression of love, friendship, and the desire to make the bride's wedding journey as memorable and wonderful as possible.

Can someone say no to being a maid of honor?

Of course! There are valid reasons why someone might consider saying no to being a maid of honor, despite having a strong friendship with the bride. It all comes down to availability, energy, and finances at the end of the day.

Being a bridesmaid also requires you to be a source of deep emotional support, so those who are dealing with life events, undergoing a major change, or feeling tight in the wallet may need to say no to the opportunity. Friends can also accept a role as a bridesmaid, rather than the maid of honor, which entails slightly less effort and energy and may be a better fit.

It’s a big commitment, and knowing your limits will help your friend find the maid of honor they really need! There may be other ways to participate in the wedding beyond normal guest duties, so offer some compromises if you feel like turning it down is best.

Say ‘I do’ to maid of honor duties

Being a maid of honor is an extraordinary experience that allows you to create lasting memories with the bride while supporting her on her special day. By understanding your responsibilities and communicating effectively, you can manage the stress and expectations and make the journey enjoyable for both you and the bride. Remember, the most important thing is to celebrate love and friendship and create moments that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Up next, check out this helpful checklist of maid of honor duties you can use to reference yourself or send over when you pop the question!

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.