The time has finally come! The big day is approaching for your best friend, sister or cousin. She wants to celebrate her love with her partner and has asked you to be her maid of honor! Of course you are happy and feel honored that she trusts you with this task, and you also want to know what you are in for now.
If you want to know exactly what your most important tasks are and how you can support the bride-to-be as her maid of honor then take a look at our advice for the 10 tasks of a maid of honor.
Where does the maid of honor tradition come from?
There are different stories about the origin of maid of honors and bridesmaids in general, but our favorite is this: To protect the bride from negative influences - whether it is jealous men or evil spirits - there needed to be ten women dressed exactly like the bride in Ancient Rome. That way, neither humans nor spirits trying to harm the bride were able to identify who the real bride was. Nowadays, of course, the bridesmaids and maid of honor don't all dress in a wedding gown (imagine that!), but the tradition still persists that the bride needs her friends and siblings to support her in this intense time. The maid of honor is of course the closest and most trusted supporter, advisor and confidante during the process of preparing the wedding!
What is important: Be compassionate and try to relieve the bride of some of the stress that comes with planning a wedding. It is a beautiful thing if you are there for her and the preparations bring you even closer together in your friendship. But don't forget that it is her big day and that your role is to advise her, not control or influence her according to your own ideas. Your tasks as a maid of honor are split amongst the time before the wedding, the ceremony itself, and the celebration afterwards.
Before the wedding
1. Choosing the wedding dress - accessories, make-up & hair
Is there anything better than going shopping with a good friend? If it's for a wedding dress, all the better! As a maid of honor you are most likely by the bride's side when she buys the most important dress of her life: her wedding dress. There is so much to decide that it is definitely helpful to browse in magazines and the internet for shapes and materials which the bride would like to see in her dream dress.
It is your task to be a good advisor for your soon-to-be-married friend. It is all about encouraging her in her choice, but also being honest if she is getting obsessed with a dress that is objectively not a good fit for her at all. Research the most beautiful cuts, the best wedding stores and go shopping along with the mother of the bride and other friends! This is the first time that the bride will really feel like a bride. Try not to project any of your own wishes while choosing the dress and create a relaxed atmosphere for the bride so that she can choose her true dream dress.
2. Wedding preparations - rehearsal dinner & organizational tasks
A wedding needs a lot of preparation. Depending on whether the engaged couple organize their own wedding or have a wedding planner, you can take on a supporting role. Once again, your help is of course appreciated, but so is close coordination with the couple. Don't decide anything on your own and make sure you plan the most beautiful day in their lives alongside the bride and groom!
3. Organizing the bachelorette party
For some time now, women have been celebrating their final goodbye to the bachelor life similarly to men. And, oftentimes, it is the task of the maid of honor to organize the bachelorette party! Find out what the bride would love to do with you and her friends and what activities she definitely does not want to be a part of the party. There are many inspiring ideas for bachelorette parties! Organize the day according to the taste of the bride and create an unforgettable party amongst all of her friends! You can plan the activities secretly or you can tell the bride so that she is ready and prepared for the girls' day.
4. Advice, support and calming down the bride
As a maid of honor it is your task during (and before!) the wedding to take care of the bride emotionally. Honestly, organizing a wedding can be a nerve-wrecking task! Some of us have been dreaming of that day since our childhood days. And when the day comes, everything needs to go smoothly. It's normal that things go a little awry here and there, but it can still be stressful for the bride and even small mishaps might feel like catastrophes. Your role is to be by the bride's side and willing to listen to her worries and questions. Calm her down when she needs it and show all your qualities as an understanding, patient friend. Sometimes it is tradition that the maid of honor sleeps at the bride's place one night before the wedding. If you do that, use that time to pamper the bride, have a nice girls' night to help her forget her nervousness.
During the ceremony
Your tasks for the ceremony heavily depend on what kind of wedding the couple has decided to have - the season, the venue, the number of guests, and other factors determine your tasks. During the ceremony, you will sit close to the bride and make her feel safe by being available to help whenever needed.
5. Signing the wedding documents
In some cases, the maid of honor will sign the wedding certificate along with the bride and groom. This is one of the easier tasks - just make sure you have your ID if that is required by the wedding offices!
6. Holding the wedding bouquet
In tradition, the best man often holds the rings while the maid of honor holds the bouquet when the bride needs her hands free. As beautiful as they are, sometimes flowers get in the way! So when the bride signs the wedding documents or is exchanging rings, you may need to hold the bouquet for her.
During the reception party after the ceremony
Even after the ceremony your help may still be needed. Of course you can celebrate along with everyone else. But very often, there is a program for the wedding reception and you can help to keep that program on track.
7. Emergency kit so nothing goes wrong
A stress-free party after the ceremony is the dream! So you should be ready for any small or big catastrophes. For starters, you can put together a little emergency purse. What should go into the wedding emergency kit?
Those are our ideas for the wedding emergency kit! Of course you can decide yourself whether you really need all of this or can leave some things at home. For a winter wedding, of course, you are not going to need insect repellent. But a few extra pantyhoses are always smart. Use our list as inspiration to be a good maid of honor for your bride and keep unnecessary small annoyances away from her. You can also offer to take care of any bigger issues that may arise. Sometimes, from an outside perspective, all big issues become a whole lot smaller, so you can keep your cool and take care of what needs doing!
8. Go to the bathroom with the bride and help her touch up her make-up
It sounds mundane, but it is very possible that the bride will need help when she needs to use the bathroom. Wedding gowns are beautiful, but unfortunately often very impractical. Make sure you know how to handle her dress in case she needs help from you. No matter whether she has a voluminous princess gown or a tightfitting mermaid dress - a helping hand can never hurt. Ideally you talk beforehand about what she needs help with and you can agree on an inconspicuous sign that only you two know whenever she needs your assistance. Nothing can go wrong then!
You should also be mindful, attentive and act as a mirror for the bride. What does that mean? Always take a close look at the lovely bride and make sure that her hair and make-up look fresh. With so many photos being taken on this day, you want to make sure that she is happy with her photos afterwards. Having an attentive friend by your side can be very reassuring and calming for the bride on such an important day!
9. Entertainment - speech and caring for guests
The ceremony is over, everyone has had some champaign and maybe the greatest hunger has been taken care of with some cake. What now? If the couple has planned a strict program, you should know about it and remind them to meet the different points, such as opening the wedding dance, announcing the fireworks or opening the buffet. If guests have questions about the program, let them know what is coming up.
If guests have thought of program points or you yourself prepared a surprise, it could be your task to coordinate the different acts harmoniously. Remember that it is important to take weight off the couple and create a beautiful celebration for them.
One of the classical tasks of the maid of honor is to give a speech. It is by no means obligatory, but certainly the bride will be happy about it. Don't worry if you're too shy or you don't like talking in front of big groups of people. Alternatively, it is a nice idea to put down your loving thoughts and well wishes on a piece of paper and ceremoniously hand it to the couple.
If you have a few personal words you wish to share with everyone, make sure you write them down beforehand so that you are prepared to give your small (or big!) speech during the ceremony. Keep in mind that the bride's parents usually have priority for speeches, so coordinate with them.
10. Gifts & Clean-up
During the celebration, the couple will receive many wedding gifts from guests. To make sure that the bride and groom can focus on talking to the guests and entertaining them, it is your task to bring the gifts to the designated place. This could be a dedicated gift table that has been determined beforehand. And you are also responsible for any tidying up that is needed. That also counts for the end of the celebration when the couple might already be on the way to their suite or even their honeymoon!
Last but not least, remember to take care of yourself! Be mindful of how many tasks you can take on and honestly communicate with the bride about her expectations and your own so that you can both have a good time.