12 Common Mistakes Maids of Honor Make

Learn the pitfalls a maid of honor should avoid.

Bride getting ready for wedding with maid of honor

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The maid of honor is the most important member of a wedding party. As the right hand to the bride, they are tasked with supporting her on the big day, organizing the bachelorette party, giving a speech, and being the point person for the rest of the bridal party. With so many responsibilities, it's easy for a maid of honor to make a mistake or two as the wedding events unfold.

"Traditionally, the role of a maid of honor is usually one of great importance to both the friend/family member who’s asked to step into this role and bride," says wedding planner Summer Newman. "It is usually given to someone of great significance in bride’s life, so it’s easy to assume that the answer to ‘Will you be my maid of honor?’ is automatically yes."

“The biggest role of a maid of honor is support and care, so ensuring that problems are being solved instead of creating more chaos or challenges along the way is key,” says Laura Ritchie, principal planner of Grit & Grace. Newman echoes the sentiment and adds, "If you are the kind of person who’s incapable of serving, I strongly recommend refusing the role. In my mind, the maid of honor is to the bride as the beehive is to Beyonce. Maybe not as extreme, but loyal and having the bride’s back. If you’re incapable of supporting, listening, and being the bride’s variety of cheerleader, I recommend taking a lesser role in the bridal party."

If you want to be more of a help than a problem for your bride, steer clear of the following mistakes as advised by wedding pros.

Meet the Expert

  • Summer Newman is a Southern California-based wedding planner who also specializes in destination events with her company Summer Newman Events.
  • Laura Ritchie is the principal planner of wedding planning service Grit & Grace.
  • Tory Smith is the founder and creative director of Smith + James Events.
  • Bo Shim is a New York-based wedding photographer.

Not Being Aware of the Bride's Expectations

When a bride asks you to be maid of honor for their wedding, you must first determine if you can manage the responsibilities that come with the title. "The first mistake is saying yes to the role without understanding what the bride’s expectations are," shares Newman. "It seems like a no-brainer to just simply say yes to the role, but I recommend that while you are excited and in the moment, that you pause to actually ask the bride what he/she/they hope your role will be throughout the entire wedding. You must make sure that you are able to manage or meet those expectations in the beginning to avoid disappointment and frustration throughout the wedding planning process. Being able to let the bride know what your limits are up front is one that will go a long way in preserving your mental health throughout the planning process."

Having Too Strong Opinions

While a bride may expect a maid of honor to be an advisor in the planning process, it's important that they don't take on the role of the ultimate decision maker. “Maids of honor sometimes miss the mark when they have too many strong opinions,” says Tory Smith, founder and creative director of Smith + James Events. “Remember you are here to support, not steer the ship.”

Making the Wedding About Themselves

"The mistake that maids of honor make, which for me is one of the most unfortunate ones to witness, is making the entire wedding planning process about them and not the bride," shares Newman. The wedding planner says she has seen MOHs who obsess over their own attire, prioritize their own opinions, bully the bride, and try to have the bride shine less than themselves. Instead, take the exact opposite approach and be the best cheerleader possible for your friend.

Not Asking for Help

While the MOH has to take on multiple planning tasks to help out the bride throughout the wedding process, it is okay to ask for help yourself. "You’re no Wonder Woman, right? You want to be a great support, but you are intimidated by the tasks at hand. Sometimes, maids of honor forget that they can and should ask for help," shares Newman. "There is a reason wedding planners exist. It ain’t always easy or straightforward, especially if you’re dealing with an indecisive bride. Ask for help and if you have no one to ask, consult with a planner. If that’s beyond your means look at the numerous blogs and see what others have done before you." You also can delegate with other members of the wedding party and give them tasks that play to their strengths and unburden the load from yourself.

Not Prioritizing the Essentials

Planning a bachelorette trip or organizing the morning of plan? Be sure to lay down the groundwork for basics like travel and food before getting too into the details. "Bridal parties try to do too many little things and not help when it counts,” shares Ritchie. “What it comes down to is quality over quantity! Taking care of managing getting ready food and snacks and drinks on the day of the wedding is way more important and impactful and necessary than lots of little moments, custom cups, bags, etc. over time.”

Not Being Attuned to the Bride's Needs

As your bride's right hand, the maid of honor needs to be tapped in to help her at each step of the way, especially on the wedding day. "“Read the bride's energy: Does she need a drink of water? A sip of champagne? A moment to breathe? A hug? An impromptu dance party? You know your girl better than anyone so make sure you're being attentive to her vibe,” says Smith.

Holding Up the Schedule

While the maid of honor might be busy directing multiple moments during the wedding day morning, they should still factor in time to get their hair and makeup finished to keep the schedule on track. "A lot of times, maid of honor takes longer than the bride to get ready," notes wedding photographer Bo Shim. "And because they are in many of the ‘getting ready’ photos, everyone ends up waiting for the maid of honor to be finished, which results in a delayed timeline."

Taking Over Photo Direction

Your wedding photographer is a pro who knows the ins and outs of getting great images out of a wedding party. Shim advises maids of honor shouldn't take over that role. "Sometimes a maid of honor feels the need to art direct at times while we’re taking photos," she says. "Coming up with posing ideas and suggesting it to photographers might actually be disruptive rather than be helpful."

Not Helping in Transitions

There are a lot of transitions that happen during a wedding ceremony and throughout a reception. The maid of honor should be there to help the bride out if anything goes awry. “Remember to always have your eyes on the bride for bouquet handoffs during the ceremony and adjusting fashion moments like a runaway veil or train,” recommends Smith. “Help your bride out, gals! She's the star, keep her looking fantastic for her guests and photos.” 

Drinking Too Much

While a maid of honor should be able to enjoy the party, they should also hold it together before major moments like the ceremony and a speech. "We've seen nerves and too many beverages get the best of even our best maids of honor,” shares Smith. “Try to keep it to a two-drink maximum until after your speech is done and don't get too sloppy on the dance floor. Remember you are a guest ‘of honor.’”

Bringing Up the Bride's Dating History

You don't want to make the bride upset with your rehearsal dinner or reception speech. Shim recommends steering clear of talking about any of their exes. "This also applies to the best man, but you do not need to mention the bride’s dating history during the maid of honor speech," she says. "A lot of times, they bring this up and it can get a bit awkward! "

Not Joining in the Party

A final tip from Smith? “Make sure to dance and have the best time! The bridal party sets the tone of the day and you want to make sure your best friend has the most fun wedding possible," she shares.

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