Does My Sister Have to Be My Maid of Honor?

Updated 10/10/19

Logan Cole

Picking between your closest girlfriends to select a maid of honor is a challenge. How do you choose a favorite when you’re presented with such great choices? Most past brides will tell you that, if you have a sister, it’s best to avoid the drama and give her the honor (your friends will understand). But do you have to? Whether you and your sister aren’t that close or you have more than one sister to choose from, here’s how to deal if that “sister-as-MOH” suggestion just isn’t working for you.

There’s no rule stating you absolutely must make your sister your maid of honor—or even include her in your bridal party at all. Of course, leaving her out does run the risk of causing a rift, so if you and your sister are on good terms (or some semblance thereof), making her a bridesmaid is highly recommended. But does she have to get the MOH title if you have another, closer friend in mind? No. The role of MOH is a big one (and comes with a lot of responsibility and one-on-one time with the bride!), so if you think a friend would be better suited, by all means, give her the title. Just be prepared to honor your sister in some way, too.

For a sister who isn’t the maid of honor, we love the idea of tapping her to fill another important role. Ask her to do a reading during the ceremony, or carry the rings in place of the best man. If she is a mother or is great with kids, invite her to escort your flower girls and ring bearers to the altar (especially if they need a little convincing!) or to be the one who walks your furry, four-legged attendant down the aisle. And even if she isn’t MOH, you can still invite her to give a toast. To keep things moving along at your reception, you may want to schedule this to take place during the rehearsal dinner.

Trying to choose between two sisters? You can definitely tap both to be co-Maids of Honor, divvying up the responsibilities to fit their strengths. Or, you can make one MOH and give the other one of the special roles above. The latter is a particularly great option if one of your sisters is under 21 (which means she won’t necessarily be able to plan or attend your bachelorette party). It acknowledges that she’s important to you, but also takes into consideration her age—just be sure to include her in the planning of your bridal shower so she can still play her part.

If you’re worried about hurt feelings, you can also skip the maid of honor position altogether, having bridesmaids at the altar but not giving anyone a special title. Instead, divvy up roles and responsibilities based on each woman’s availability and what you think she’ll be best at. This allows you to lighten the load for a friend who’s neck-deep in med school or doesn’t have a creative bone in her body while using another’s talents and enthusiasm to your advantage.

Don’t get along with your sister at all? It may be the best choice to leave her out of the bridal party altogether. Give her a seat in the front row with your parents, and make sure you have a corsage or nosegay to make her stand out, but don’t feel obligated to include her further if you know neither of you will enjoy it. If things are touchy between the two of you, she’ll probably understand (and maybe even appreciate) your decision.

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