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What is the Maid of Honor's Responsibilities?

To simplify the thank-you process, the maid of honor traditionally keeps a list of gifts received by the bride.
The maid of honor is often expected to give a toast at the wedding reception.
The maid of honor generally holds the bride's bouquet during the wedding ceremony.
The maid of honor stands with the bride during the wedding ceremony.
The maid of honor is responsible for hosting the bridal shower.
The maid of honor is responsible for planning the bachelorette party.
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  • Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
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In a wedding, the maid of honor has a vital role in assisting the bride with many duties. Her responsibilities include various tasks in advance of the wedding, as well as during the ceremony and following it. A bride should consider the importance of the maid of honor's responsibilities when choosing someone to fill this role.

The maid of honor's responsibilities include many tasks such as helping the bride shop for her own gown and for the dresses for the bridal attendants. She may also help address invitations and assist with decisions, if asked, on flowers, the cake, and other aspects of the wedding. It is also her responsibility to plan and host the bridal shower. She should make a list for the bride of gifts received, along with the giver’s name and address, to simplify the thank-you note process.

Other responsibilities of the maid of honor include planning the bachelorette party and keeping track of the groom’s ring and of the other bridal attendants, verifying that each is properly dressed and on time to the ceremony. Often, the maid of honor will act as the liaison between the bride and other attendants by scheduling hair and makeup appointments, dress fittings, and so on. She will also help prepare the bride immediately before the ceremony begins by touching up her make-up, checking her hair and gown at the last minute, and adjusting her headpiece and veil.

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The maid of honor’s official responsibilities include holding the bridal bouquet during the ceremony. In the absence of a ring bearer, she will also hold the groom’s ring. The maid of honor signs the marriage license as a witness, and she might also dance with the best man during the first dance of the reception. After the best man toasts the couple, often the maid of honor is expected to give a toast as well. After the ceremony, she might be expected to have the bride’s gown cared for and transport gifts from the wedding site to the newlyweds’ home.

From an emotional point of view, the maid of honor's responsibilities include calming the bride and making certain that she is rested and ready for the ceremony. It is important for this attendant to be a true friend to the bride, listening patiently to all of her concerns and worries.

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SarahSon
Post 16

I really did consider it an honor to be the maid of honor in my best friends wedding. She doesn't have any sisters, and I was excited to have this privilege.

My friend is not a high maintenance person, so being her maid of honor was pretty easy. We looked for dresses together and also did a lot of the planning together.

I think we would have done this even if I wasn't the maid of honor. I really didn't realize there were so many responsibilities that went along with this, but it sounds like I did almost everything that is expected without even knowing it.

The grooms best man was also a good friend, so everything from the rehearsal, to the wedding and reception were relaxed and a lot of fun.

LisaLou
Post 15

My sister was the maid of honor at my wedding. Even though she lived across the country from me, I wouldn't even have considered asking anybody else.

Because she lived so far away from me, she wasn't able to take part in much of the planning or festivities before the wedding.

On my wedding day, she was a very calming presence for me which is just what I needed. We are very similar in many ways, and I didn't even need to ask her to do anything. She just knew what I needed and took care of it for me.

I was also the maid of honor in her wedding, and was able to return the favor for her. It still means a lot to me to have her signature on my marriage license too.

runner101
Post 14

Don’t forget about us matrons of honor! I was married one of the times I was someone’s maid of honor so that made my title change from maid of honor to matron of honor.

From what I experienced the matron of honor duties were the same, and I believe that is the norm rather than the rule. It is literally the same job, just different name.

snickerish
Post 13

I have had maid of honor responsibilities two times and both times the duties were similar although the brides were very different.

Both times I helped pick out or be there for the bride to help pick out a dress. Both times I helped plan and host a bridal shower. Both times I gave speeches. One time I was a part of the planning for a bachelorette weekend, the other did not enjoy going out as much so she and I just went and spend some quality time together.

I think one of the best pieces of advice that someone gave me was to not wing the speech. In both instances there was so much going on that I am sure that I would have forgotten something that I would have wanted to say to my friend on her special day.

And along those same lines in discussing the do's and don'ts of the speech from my experiences in and going to weddings - I have yet to see a long drawn out speech go over particularly well.

In theory it is fantastic that you want to share so much about your friend, but much of what you might be saying could be said in private, and the things you would truly want all of the guests to hear - say in the speech.

bluespirit
Post 12

Another responsibility to know about is the time commitment the day of and before the wedding. The day of the wedding could start as early as seven in the morning if all the women in the wedding are getting their hair and make-up done at the same time.

You have to get up early enough for everyone to have these things done as well as taking pictures, and I think in an effort to avoid being in a rush you plan with lots of room for the possibility of needing time do something else.

With that in mind, a great extra thing to do as the maid of honor is to bring something fun to snack on or drink while all of this is taking part.

The bride will usually provide lunch but I have been a part of wedding-getting-ready-mornings in which someone brought mimosas or cookies with the bride's new initials on them and they were a fun festive touch.

OeKc05
Post 11

I had the best maid of honor ever. She worked as a wedding coordinator, so she was the perfect choice.

When things went wrong, she never once freaked out. Her philosophy was that there is always a way around obstacles.

She managed to make and update lists and appointments by the dozens. I pretty much stepped back and let her take control, though I gave my opinion on really important things, like the cake and flowers.

Because of how many things seemed to be going wrong, I was amazed at how she kept it together and pulled off my dream wedding. Only an actual wedding coordinator could have done this, and I lucked out to have one for a friend.

wavy58
Post 10

My maid of honor kept me from making the biggest mistake of my life. I had been having doubts about whether or not my fiancee was the one for me. She listened to my concerns and devised a plan that would settle it once and for all.

I had a feeling that he might be in love with my cousin. They were friends and spent an awful lot of time together. I pretended not to be jealous, but it bothered me.

My maid of honor said we needed to test him. She arranged a situation where he and my cousin would be alone together, and she and I watched through the slats in a closet.

I overheard him telling her that he was having doubts about me. He said his whole heart couldn’t be in it, because part of it belonged to someone else. Then, he leaned in to kiss her. So, my maid of honor saved me from a bad marriage, which is the best service she could have ever provided.

Oceana
Post 9

My sister asked me to be her maid of honor, and although she got married in a really nice old antebellum mansion and had plenty of guests, she didn’t go by the book and do all the fancy stuff that most people do. So, all I had to do was hold her bouquet and stand by her.

I even got to pick out my own dress. She lived four hours away, so getting together to plan everything would have been hard, anyway. She simply told me her wedding colors, and it just so happened I already had a dress in the perfect shade, so I didn’t even have to go shopping.

I wish that being maid of honor could be this simple for everyone. However, if the bride’s fairytale includes more props and actors than a Hollywood movie set, it cannot be easy.

Perdido
Post 8

When I was engaged, I really didn’t want a big wedding. To me, it is just a bunch of unnecessary stress. I wanted to focus on the moment, and I wanted a beach wedding with just the pastor and enough witnesses to sign the license.

However, my friend talked me out of it. She agreed to be the maid of honor, and she promised me that she would plan everything if I would just get married in town rather than running off to the ocean.

So, I let her do it. She took care of the reception food, decorations for the church and dining hall, and even the flowers. I really didn’t have to do anything except pick out my dress.

Sara007
Post 7

@manykitties2 - I think you may have just a bad experience with your maid of honor responsibilities as it sounds like you were dealing with a bit of a Bridezilla. When I was a maid of honor I helped with a bit of everything, from choosing gifts for the bridesmaids to helping pick out the perfect flowers. Never once though, did the process last an overly long time.

I think that when you decide to be a maid of honor, and take on the responsibilities that go with it that you really need to make sure you and the bridge get along really well. I knew my friend well enough to know she wouldn't make any crazy demands on my time.

manykitties2
Post 6

When I was chosen to be the maid of honor at my friend's wedding she actually gave me a book all about maid of honor etiquette and it included a maid of honor checklist. I was really surprised as to how much was involved with being a maid of honor in a traditional wedding.

I would honestly not be a maid of honor again, because it requires a pretty big time investment if you are dealing with someone who has their heart set on a big, white wedding with all the trimmings. With my girlfriend, she spent hours just choosing a cake and we spent an entire week just shuffling through invitation designs. It was just too much.

SteamLouis
Post 5

Great article, I learned so much! I'm going to be a maid of honor for the first time and I'm trying to learn everything I need to do. There is nine months until the wedding but it looks like there is a lot of planning and preparation to do so I want to get started as soon as possible.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in maid of honor duties is the rehearsal dinner. Does the maid of honor need to do anything for that? I know the parents are going to be hosting the rehearsal dinner but I don't know if I need to get to the location earlier to help with organization or coordination. Or do I just attend as the other guests do and just meet the families and mingle?

I know that I can at least help the bride and groom bring presents and help give them out. Is there anything else I need to do?

fify
Post 4

@BrickBack-- I completely agree with you! My maid of honor literally saved my life. I don't think my wedding would have happened without her. She did a lot for me both before, during and after the wedding. But what I most appreciated was her presence when I was shopping for a wedding dress and her calmness and support during the wedding itself.

I was a really picky and confused bride when it came to dresses. I think I tried on about 30-40 dresses in a couple of weeks and my maid of honor was with me every single time, helping me, waiting for me for hours and giving me her honest opinion on everything. I can't imagine what I would have done if she wasn't there.

I was also really stressed the day of the wedding. I didn't become Bridezilla or anything but some things seemed to be going wrong and off schedule which really upset me.

I also had a problem with my dress at the last minute. My maid of honor was so calm and supportive the whole time. She was running around to make things work and she even had double ended cloth tape with her which fixed the problem with my dress. She was the best maid of honor ever. I'm so grateful that she was there with me through it all.

burcidi
Post 3

I was recently the maid of honor for my best friend's wedding. This was the first American wedding I attended because I'm not from the U.S. and really did not know very much about the traditions and my responsibilities.

Looking at all of the responsibilities listed for the maid of honor in this article, I realize that my friend really went easy on me because I did not do too much planning and also did not have the money to host a bridal shower for her. She did still get to have several bridal showers though.

I helped her a lot with choosing the bride's maids' dresses and spending time with her family and friends that came out of town as she was too busy to be with everyone. I also selected songs that would be played at the wedding and helped proofread the wedding program. I helped her and the bride's maids get dressed the day of the wedding.

My friend also had a mehndi/henna night before her wedding because of her Indian origin. I also helped host that event and took care of things for her and the guests. At one point, both of her hands were full of mehndi designs and she couldn't touch anything. I fed her food and was walking behind her with a glass of water and straw when she was thirsty!

It was a lot of fun though, I enjoyed being there for my friend and even though I couldn't do everything, I think did a good job as the maid of honor.

BrickBack
Post 2

I think that the maid of honor has a lot of responsibility. My maid of honor really helped me a lot during my wedding planning and at the day of the ceremony. The only thing that she did not do is plan a bachelorette party.

I really didn’t want one so instead we all went out to dinner and the bridal party came over for breakfast at my hotel. She also made sure that the bridesmaids all were going to their fittings and really took a lot of stress off of me. I think that the right maid of honor can really make a difference in how the wedding experience turns out.

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