Being asked to be your best mate's maid of honour is one of the best things ever, right?
... umm... well... we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but being the bride's partner-in-crime can be kinda stressful.
Yes, it's amazing. Yes, you're gonna make memories that last a lifetime. But you NEED to be prepared.
Unfortunately, the perfect wedding doesn't just magically appear.
Oh no. Behind every successful celebration, there is a battalion of bridesmaids and ONE maid of honour who's seen the highs, lows, the tears and everything in between.
Are you really ready for all that's gonna be thrown at you?!
Here at GoHen, we've been planning memorable hen weekends since way back in 2002 and we've seen it all before.
That's why we've put together a hitlist of all the maid of honour duties you need to know to ensure the bride ticks everything off her dream wedding checklist (and doesn't turn into a full-blown Bridezilla!!!).
Scroll on and good luck!
- What is a Maid of Honour
- Before the Wedding
- Maid of Honour Duties on Wedding Day
- The Reception
- The Evening Reception
- Maid of Honour Duties Checklist
- More Maid of Honour FAQs
- And That's It, Ladies!
What is a maid of honour?
A maid of honour is NOT just another bridesmaid!
A maid of honour is an integral part of the entire process surrounding the big day (whereas a bridesmaid is only required to attend and assist with the fun). She's the bridal equivalent of the best man – the bride's righthand gal who helps her through the stressful wedding planning, arranges an amazing hen party and ensures the big day is exactly what she's always dreamed of.
Why is it called a maid of honour?
Well, back in the day, it was the maidens who had the 'honour' of attending to a Queen or a Princess (always slaying it, might we add 👑). Today, the bride's bestie gets the 'honour' of being her core wedding support.
Does a maid of honour have to be married?
No, the maid of honour does not need to be married (the shock!!).
Back in the day, the bridesmaids tended to be single, but we've all moved on from those outdated traditions and now allow married gals to walk down the aisle in style.
Can your mum be your maid of honour?
Of course, your mum can be your maid of honour.
Depending on your relationship with her, you may want to consider asking a friend to help out with maid of honour duties, such as organising the hen weekend, but if mum loves a party, there's no reason she shouldn't be in charge of that as well.
Can a man be your maid of honour?
This is the 21st century and if your best mate is a man, you can have them by your side throughout the process.
There are a few things you need to consider, so be sure to check out our blog on all the FAQs for having a man of honour.
What are the responsibilities of the maid of honour?
We thought you'd never ask!
Just read on to find out what the maid of honour duties are at every stage of the wedding planning!
(Or scroll down to the end to download our Maid of Honour Checklist which is the only guide you'll need!).
Duties Before the Wedding
1. Find Out How Involved You'll Be
Is your bride a control freak who won't find happiness unless she's in charge of every teeny-tiny detail?
Or is your bride completely carefree, happy-go-lucky even when it comes to her own wedding?
Either is fine... just make sure you communicate the extent to which you'll need to be involved, to make sure you're not overdoing or winging your part!
2. Help Choose the Venue
This is not a one-day task, but more of a research commitment taking place over time.
Sometimes, the bride will already know which venue's the venue, in which case you can help her to secure the booking for her dream date!
3. Invites & Announcements
Even if you don't know where the wedding will be taking place yet, you can still use your best friend privileges to help the bride compile the wedding guestlist and start prepping people for the big day.
There's much more to be done than you probably think – some of the guests might live overseas, some might only be invited to the evening do, are kids invited?
4. Wedding Dress & Accessories
Help the bride pick the dress, the shoes, the veil, the earrings - be her voice of reason about pairing all the different shades of white.
Be supportive, but honest (there's a fine line between helpful and rude!).
5. Bridesmaid Dresses & Fittings
If you thought that there'd be only one important dress-related decision to be made... you're cute.
Help organise the rabble and allow plenty of time to get the bridesmaids together for a fitting.
6. Help With the Wedding Planning
The maid of honour is the supportive soundboard every bride needs on (and in the build-up to) their wedding day, so lend a hand and an opinion especially when it comes to planning!
7. Be a Friend
Allow the bride to vent her stresses to you and help as much as you can. You're not there to be just any friend, you're there to be her best friend.
8. Maid of Honour Hen Party Duties
9. Going Away Luggage
Ensure the bride is all packed for the honeymoon or for the wedding if it's away from home.
10. The Little Things
From helping to track gifts and thank you notes, to being on hand with a glass of wine, the little things may not always seem little, but you've got this!
11. Write Your Speech
Haven't you heard? It's more and more common now for a maid of honour to give a speech! It's not mandatory, but why not stand up and say a few words in front of the bride's nearest and dearest? Check out our maid of honour speech advice for all the tips and tricks to stealing the show.
12. Attend Rehearsals
Make sure everything runs smoothly and practice your role for the big day.
13. Help Pick the Wedding Menu
Enter: Each of the guests' specific dietary requirements, the bride and groom's personal tastes, the children's fussy characters and, finally, the catering company that can cater to all of those at the same time.
Exit: your sanity. 🥂
14. Plan a Gift for the Bride
It doesn't have to be massive. It doesn't have to be too OTT, but a gift to the bride from you guys would be the cherry on top of the cake. For the latest ideas, check out our maid of honour gifts to the bride blog and get it off your to-do list.
15. Plan Non-Wedding Time
Last but not least, there's an important and an often overlooked detail of the wedding schedule...
The fact that the engaged couple probably haven't taken a breath from wedding planning ever since the proposal.
In this case, some individual time away from each other can help them hit refresh.
This is a great opportunity to schedule some non-wedding related time (which at that point would be healthy for you too) and spend a few moments together as besties!
Or just plan the hen weekend!!
1. Help Her Get Ready
Arrive at the bride's house/accommodation and help her with hair, makeup, and putting on the dress.
2. Provide Emotional Support
It's the BIG DAY and all the feels might get a bit overwhelming even for the most strong-minded bride.
Simply be there for her, reassure her, make sure she eats – whatever she wants or needs!
And in the name of everything that's holy... don't let her ruin her makeup.
3. Make Sure the Bride Doesn't Drink Too Much Bubbly
Some is fine. Just, whatever you do, don't go OTT. It's a long old day and there's a lot to do.
4. Assist the Parents of the Bride
It's a big day for them, too! They'll have their concerns, questions and will want to spend time with their daughter – you'll need to have all the answers ready to avoid drama!
5. Herd the Bridesmaids
Make sure they all know where they're going and what they're doing... easier said than done.
6. Honeymoon Kit
Make sure the bride and groom have their luggage, tickets, passports, money, snacks, etc.
7. Check Reservations & Arrangements
Service sheets, hired cars, times, places, people. Check, double-check, triple-check!
8. Messenger Between Bride & Groom
Obviously, they can't see each other pre-ceremony, but they may need to get info to one another, so be that messenger!
9. Emergency Bridal Kit
Safety pins, sewing gear, extra pair of shoes, make-up, tissues, etc. – just in case, be prepared for it all!
10. Toilet Helper (if necessary!)
Umm... yeah... not a hugely glamourous job, but someone's gonna need to help the bride go to the loo throughout the day (particularly if she's in a big fairy tale dress!).
11. Keep The Bride & Groom Separated
Make sure the big reveal is not spoiled!
12. Revise Your Speech
Traditionally, the maid of honour does not give a speech, but to hell with tradition – this is the 21st century, and if you want to get up and give an emotional/hilarious/tear-jerking speech, then you get up and do just that.
1. Get Everyone in Order
Ensure everyone is in the right position behind the bride for her entrance.
2. Look After the Bouquet
Hold the bride's bouquet for the duration of service once she joins the groom.
3. Hold the Groom's Ring
Until the rings are exchanged, the best man holds the ring that the groom will give to his loved one, and the MoH holds the ring that the bride will give to hers.
4. Witness the Register Signing
When the time comes, you'll go with the couple to a side room to witness the signing.
5. Help the Photographer
If the photographer wants some pre-wedding snaps, find the people and direct them to the camera.
6. Get Them in the Cars
Gather the important attendants and make sure they get to the reception.
1. Receiving the Guests
You may be part of the receiving line, if there is one, to greet the guests.
2. The Bouquet (Again!)
You may have the responsibility of putting the bouquet somewhere safe so it doesn't get damaged.
3. Ensure Everyone's Enjoying Themselves
Including the bride. This really helps to alleviate concerns and makes things run smoothly!
It's time. After the father of the bride and the best man have had their turns pouring their hearts out, it's up to steal the spotlight in style. And don't forget to give a toast at the end!
The Evening Reception
1. Ensure Everyone's Enjoying Themselves (Again)
Including the bride. This really helps to alleviate concerns and makes things run smoothly!
2. Help the Bride Change
Help her change into the party gown and take care of the wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses!
3. Have Fun!
This is a party, after all. Actually, scrap that, it isn't just a party, it's your best mate's wedding, and you're going to enjoy yourself because this is a moment that deserves to be celebrated!
Maid of Honour Duties Checklist
Download our free Maid of Honour Duties Checklist, pin it to your fridge and tick them off every time you reward yourself with a glass of wine for helping the bride(zilla?) complete another part of her wedding!
More Maid of Honour FAQs
Maid of honour or maid of honor?
Maid of honour is the British spelling. Maid of honor is the American spelling.
Maid of honour or matron of honour?
Maid of honour used to refer to someone who is unmarried, whereas a Matron of Honour refers to someone who is already married. However, maid of honour is now used as a blanket term for the bride's righthand gal irrespective of their relationship status because it literally doesn't matter if they're married or not (we've all moved on from those outdated times).
Is chief bridesmaid the same as maid of honour?
Yes, the chief bridesmaid is the same thing as the maid of honour. Chief bridesmaid was a term used in Britain, whilst Maid of Honour was American, but they are both interchangeable and frequently used either side of the pond to describe the same person.
Where does the maid of honour stand during the ceremony?
In traditional weddings, the maid of honour will stand beside the bride during the ceremony.
Who does the maid of honour walk with?
Conventionally, the maid of honour walks down the aisle with the best man, but this can change depending on the type of wedding you're attending and what the bride/groom wants.
Does the maid of honour pay for anything?
At least not necessarily out of her own pocket. She might be in charge of all the budgeting and admin, in which case she would be the one paying the suppliers and gathering the receipts.
Does the maid of honour give the bride a gift?
She doesn't have to, but if she wants to – she absolutely can. Check out our funky and thoughtful MOH gift ideas for the bride here!
And there we have it!
We hope this extensive list of maid of honour duties (40, last time we counted 😳) was able to prepare you for the big day – we just know you're going to slay it!
After all, 38% of our clients who enquired for a hen party in 2023 were.... you guessed it... that one maid of honour always buzzing to get things right!
Pro tip: letting us organise the hen party will leave you with only 39 other tasks to cater to!
Look what some of them have to say about their experience with us and give us a shout if we can help! #GoHen
GoHen eliminated a lot of the stress that's come along with maid of honour duties! Everyone had a great time and enjoyed all of the activities for the day!
Gina Cowey | York 23 September 2023
Groupia was easy to book, cheap and great value for money. Being the maid of honour and organising multiple hen plans was made super easy with the website, and the options for people to have their own log-in and pay off their balance in their own time! Made the hen do stress-free. Thank you!
Sarah Cunningham | Liverpool 12 October 2023