The responsibilities assigned to the maid of honor aren't quite what they used to be. In case you hadn't noticed, weddings are a lot different than they were when our mothers were young. Go back much further and bridesmaids served as decoys for the bride in case of an attempted kidnapping! Since most bridesmaids now are more girl squad than ransom bait, serving as the bride's No. 1 means you'll be on your toes in a very different way.
Who Is the Maid of Honor?
We've tapped wedding planners Betsy Krug and Lindsey Nickel to share their advice for making the most out of your maid of honor experience.
Meet the Expert
• Betsy Krug is the co-owner and event director at Rebecca Rose Events, a destination wedding planning, floral design, and event production firm in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
• Lindsey Nickel is the owner and founder of Lovely Day Events, a boutique wedding planning company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Ahead, you'll find a list of all the maid of honor responsibilities a bride may expect of you before the wedding and during it. Take a peek below, and get ready for the experience of a lifetime.
Before the Wedding
Maid of honor is a big job, and it starts long before the wedding day—pretty much the minute you're asked. Here's what you need to do in the months leading up to the main event.
Be There for the Bride
"The maid of honor should walk a fine line of being supportive, not overwhelming," says Krug. "As the maid of honor, you know your friend, the bride, better than anyone else. After being asked, the maid of honor should initiate a conversation with the bride to discuss how best she can support her during the wedding-planning process. Be open about personalities and decide if the bride will delegate and ask for help or if the maid of honor should periodically check in and offer support without being prompted. Discuss the level of involvement and support upfront and be mindful of relationships the bride may need to navigate with family," Krug says.
Don't Forget to Have Fun
While your primary responsibility to the bride is to lend an extra set of hands, don't forget to pencil in some fun, too. From an afternoon spent getting mani-pedis to a full-blown girls' night out, the bride is first and foremost your best friend, and that's the role you should take most seriously during the planning process. "The most important thing to remember is, as the maid of honor, you are tasked with supporting and loving your friend unconditionally," Krug says.
Review the Budget
Before kicking off any planning for the bachelorette party or bridal shower, have a chat with the other bridesmaids to see how much they can afford to spend on these events. Don't assume they'll be able to cover the costs after you already have a girls' getaway to Cancun scheduled in the books.
Go Wedding Dress Shopping
Ah, wedding dress shopping, perhaps the most anticipated event aside from the ceremony itself. Help the bride say "yes" to the dress by accompanying her to dress fittings and providing her with your honest opinion. As she travels from fitting room to fitting room, offer to help zip her up and hang dresses back on their hangers.
Order Your Dress on Time
The last thing you want is to find out your dress won't arrive by the wedding day. Be sure to order it as soon as you can so that it arrives early for alterations and quality time in your closet.
Serve as the Point of Contact
Absorb as much wedding information as you can, and let the other bridesmaids, the bride's family members, and even guests turn to you with any questions they may have. This will save the bride a lot of time and the stress of responding to text messages and emails about where and when events are taking place.
Before deciding when and where the bridal shower and bachelorette party will be, ask the bride for a list of dates she's available. Then send out an online survey to the bridal party, so you can gauge when the most people will be available to attend.
Send an Intro Email to the Bridesmaids
Connect all the other bridesmaids with an email icebreaker that introduces each of you and includes everyone's contact information. That way, everyone can get a taste of who's who before the bachelorette party comes around.
Mediate Conflict Among the Bridal Party
As the maid of honor, you'll be in charge of maintaining peace among the bridal party. On top of that, you'll be assigning tasks concerning any pre-wedding events and answering any questions the bridesmaids may have regarding the wedding-day itinerary. Let the bridesmaids know they can come to you directly with any questions, comments, or concerns, and then you can jot them down, filter the ones you can answer out, and bring the rest to the bride when she has less on her plate.
Lend a Hand With DIY Projects
Does the bride need help addressing wedding invitations or DIY-ing her centerpieces or favors? Volunteer to help by planning a wedding DIY craft night, complete with her favorite bubbly.
Plan the Bachelorette Party
Get ready to lead the charge when it comes to planning the bridal shower and bachelorette party. From reaching out to family members and bridesmaids to helping with the nitty-gritty of planning and keeping everyone's budgets in mind, you'll quickly become the bonafide expert party planner during the wedding process. "Plan a bachelorette party that you know the bride will love and enjoy. Don't feel pressure to create an event just to be social media worthy," Krug says.
Prepare a Wedding Survival Kit
For every wedding event you attend, bring along a pack of bridesmaid essentials like Advil, Band-Aids, hair ties, safety pins, and other last-minute mini-emergency items that are frequently needed.
Keep Track of Gifts Received
If the bride decides to open gifts at her bridal shower, you'll want to be sure to keep track of who gave her what. "One often overlooked responsibility, that the bride will really appreciate, is keeping a list of who gave what at the bridal shower, so that the bride can easily write thank-you notes," says Nickel.
Prepare a Speech for the Reception
Some brides opt to have only family members give speeches at their receptions. Others forgo speeches entirely. As the maid of honor, you should always be game to deliver a speech—and not embarrass her during it. Start jotting down ideas months before the wedding and then spend a few weeks before the big day finessing it and putting everything together.
Choose the Tunes
One of the final things the bride will have on her to-do list is coming up with a reception playlist. Make a fun girls' night out of the task, where you blast some tunes, drink some wine, and de-stress.
Offer to Pack for the Honeymoon
If the bride is overwhelmed the week before her wedding, offer to help her out with any last-minute items on her to-do list, such as packing her honeymoon suitcase or running to the store for an extra bikini or bottle of sunscreen.
Keep Everything Moving
While there's a planner or coordinator to take the helm when it comes to the wedding day timeline—including all the events leading up to the wedding—you should still make an effort to pencil everything in. "However the maid of honor organizes her personal life, she should integrate reminders for her maid of honor duties. For example, if you use a Google calendar, add check-in dates for bachelorette planning, checking in with the bride, and sending reminders to the bridal party," Krug says.
Day of the Wedding
This is the big day, and the maid of honor's role is an all-day job. Here's what to do the day-of.
Drop Off Any Reception Items
If things like toasting flutes, the couple's registry book, candle lighting, seating cards, or wedding favors have not already been dropped off at the ceremony and/or reception venues, you should add this to your list of things to do on the morning of the wedding.
Keep the Bridal Suite Spick and Span
Once all the bridesmaids are done getting ready, it's your job to make sure they clear their belongings out of the bridal suite, so that the newlyweds don't return to a messy room at the end of the night.
Savor Every Moment
First and foremost, your role should be to keep the bride as calm as possible by providing emotional support. "Weddings are an emotional time. A bride designates her maid or matron of honor as her most cherished confidant to share in all the emotions of planning and celebrating a wedding," Krug says. Alternatively, you'll also want to help the bride relish in all the excitement. Keep the energy up by popping a bottle of Champagne while getting ready and having a toast with the entire bride squad before the ceremony.
Make Sure the Bride Remembers to Eat
Throughout the day–and certainly, before she leaves the bridal suite—you should check in periodically to see if the bride needs something to nibble on. While she may be too excited to think about food, a protein-rich snack will help fend off hunger pains.
The bride might not have a proper meal until the reception later, so a little a.m. sustenance will go a long way on this marathon day. Ask her to share some of her go-to snacks (be it croissants, potato chips, or granola bars) so that you can have the bridal suite fully stocked.
Be on Drink Patrol
If the bridesmaids plan on sipping some bubbly with the bride while they get glam, it's the maid of honor's duty to make sure everyone enjoys the moment but doesn't overindulge. Make sure there's water and snacks readily available, too.
Assist the Mother of the Bride
Don't forget about the mother of the bride. From lending a hand with her hair and makeup to shuttling her water, snacks, and sips of Champagne, the mom of the bride has needs, too. If you or the bride suspect that she may, err, get in the way of things, be sure to have a list of backup plans to keep her busy. Activities may include greeting arriving guests, relaxing with her friends for a pre-ceremony cocktail, or doing a final walk-through to ensure all the décor is set.
Pitch in With Social Media
The bride will likely want the morning of her wedding to be as relaxed and unplugged as possible. Check with her first, of course, but this may be a good opportunity to snap behind-the-scenes shots of the Champagne toasts, happy tears, and even the moment she slips on her dress. "The maid of honor can help keep the celebration going by posting and tagging on social media. The bride usually isn't able to snap photos on the wedding day," Nickel says.
Don't Let the Bride and Her Partner Cross Paths
Help the bride out by keeping an eye out for her partner if they're following the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony. Touch base with the wedding planner or coordinator to make sure the two don't cross paths before the dedicated moment. If the bride and her spouse opt to exchange gifts ahead of the wedding, do them a favor by making the exchange swift and smooth.
Help the Bride Get Dressed
It's no small task to assist the bride as she gets into possibly the most expensive and elaborate gown she'll ever wear in her life. You'll want to be certain everything is laid out in advance, from undergarments to shoes to jewelry, so there's no last-minute scrambling to find those heirloom earrings or an extra pair of hose.
Provide Assistance in the Ladies Room
This isn't the most glamorous task, but the bride will appreciate it. She'll likely need a little help getting her dress, heels, and hair into the ladies room for a final go before the ceremony begins. It'll be a moment full of laughter and surely some tricky maneuvers, but it sure gives new meaning to BFF.
Serve as the Bride's Personal Stylist
Don't hesitate to jump right in and lend a hand during the getting-ready process, especially if the bride doesn't have a planner or stylist to assist. From steaming last-minute wrinkles to making sure the veil is perfectly placed, there's no shortage of details to keep an eye out for.
Have Your Hair and Makeup Plan Ready
Arrive on the wedding day with your beauty look already approved by the bride and have example photos for the stylists. That way, you can guide other members of the bridal party on how they should look to help move the whole process along.
Keep Her Partner's Ring Safe
During the ceremony, typically it's one of the best man's duties to hold onto the wedding bands until it comes time for vows to be exchanged. But there's a good chance you'll be in charge of safekeeping one of those precious rings at some point on the big day. Be sure to guard that thing with your life.
Take Care of the Bouquet
Once the bride walks down the aisle, help her out by volunteering to hold her bundle of blooms. After she says "I do," you can give the bouquet back for her to hold as she walks up the aisle.
Keep the Bride Hydrated
As the maid of honor, you'll want to keep the bride hydrated from morning until the last dance. Be sure to check with the bride for her preference—sparkling or still—and remind her to take a few sips of H2O throughout the day. Doing so will keep her energy up and ward off any hangovers that could interfere with the morning-after brunch.
Round Up Friends and Family for the Wedding Photos
Trying to gather family members to take posed shots before or after the ceremony can get hectic. Offer to be an extra hand in moving the process along.
Keep Tabs on the Wedding Gifts
Help the bride out by ensuring all her wedding gifts, checks, and cards end up in her car or hotel room at the end of the night.
Dance With the Bride
You've made it to the reception when hopefully all the planning stress has melted away. Now it's time to celebrate on the ballroom floor—grab the bride, your OG dance partner, for plenty of boogying to your favorite jams. Selfies welcome.