The maid of honour - what you need to know
Organising a wedding is more demanding than you might first imagine – so it’s vital that you share the tasks out amongst a team of helpers. The maid of honour is the most important of these. She is usually a sister or a close friend, sometimes she is referred to as ‘chief bridesmaid’ or as the ‘matron of honour’, if she is already married. Once you’ve decided on your bridesmaids the maid of honour’s job is start helping with some of the planning duties.
You might ask the maid of honour to come wedding dress shopping with you and will probably want input when choosing the bridesmaid dresses.
This includes helping round up the bridesmaids for the dress shopping and fitting sessions. She needs to plan the itinerary as appropriate, including sorting a fun place for lunch and booking appointments at the relevant shops.
As the bride, you are traditionally expected to pay for the bridesmaid dresses – but not always. If you want a contribution from the maid of honour make sure this is discussed at an early stage to avoid any awkward misunderstandings. The same goes for accessories, professional hair and makeup for the bridesmaids.
A second opinion
The maid of honour will almost certainly be called upon to discuss all your various ideas. They should be prepared to consult on everything from wedding colour schemes to the shape of the wedding cake. When things get a bit stressful the maid of honour needs to stay calm and supportive – to be the voice of reason when you lose it and emotions are running high!
Spare pair of hands
The maid of honour can also help you with more hands-on wedding tasks, such as writing or addressing wedding invitations, helping with the decorations or assembling homemade favours. Secretarial duties probably include keeping a record of the RSVP so it’s clear who has confirmed and who still needs chasing up. These may not be the most exciting tasks but the maid of honour needs to offer graceful help and a ready smile if called upon!
The hen party
This is the maid of honour’s moment to shine. It’s a big job that requires a lot of thought and organising. You will decide who attends but the maid of honour should consult the bridesmaids when it comes to ideas on where to go and what to do (much of it should come as a fun surprise for you). Our recent posts on ideas for hen party destinations and hen party activities provide lots of inspiration.
You might decide that two parties are required - a wild hen party for the girls and a more grown-up and formal bridal shower style celebration that your mum and older relatives can attend. The hen party should take place up to three months before the wedding – far enough in advance for everyone to recover!
Nearer the time
In the weeks running up to the big day the maid of honour should make sure the bridesmaids know what time they need to arrive, where everyone is getting ready and if there’s anything they need to bring. They need to plan for every eventuality – organising lots of umbrellas in case it rains, and perhaps preparing a bridal emergency kit (could include everything from tissues to paracetamol and safety pins to lip gloss).
The day before the wedding
The maid of honour should make themselves available to run any last-minute errands for you, such as getting any hired items that need collecting. They might also be required to help set up the reception room the night before or to come with you for any final beauty appointments, such as a manicure and pedicure.
The big day itself – the preparations
The maid of honour is going to be kept very busy and needs to be on top form. One important task is to make sure the flowers are delivered exactly as arranged then distribute the bouquets. A small but important job, and one that it’s easy to overlook, is sitting you down for a healthy breakfast – a bride needs more than coffee to get her through the early part of the day!
Another vital role is in assisting you as you get ready. You’ll probably need help with your hair, makeup and getting into the wedding dress (as well as regularly telling you how gorgeous you look!).
The maid of honour, bridesmaids and your mum traditionally travel to the ceremony together and set off ten minutes before you so they’re there to see you arrive. The maid of honour will also make sure you look picture-perfect by helping to arrange your hair and veil just before the walk down the aisle.
During the wedding ceremony the maid of honour holds the bride’s bouquet. You may also ask them to give a reading or to be a witness at the signing of the register. After the ceremony bride and groom leave first, followed the maid of honour and best man.
If there is a receiving line at the reception the maid of honour will stand by you and your husband to greet the guests as they arrive for the wedding breakfast. She will also take any presents to the gift table and put them on display.
The maid of honour is traditionally seated on the top table along with the happy couple, their parents and the best man. However, this is not always the case today – the maid of honour may host a table of her own.
When you need to go to the bathroom the maid of honour is there to offer a helping hand – it can be a bit tricky in a wedding dress! She’s also on make-up duty, checking any smudges are expertly rectified. Later in the proceedings she is also expected to share a dance with the best man. You and hubby take the first dance but they then take the next one and encourage everyone to join them.
After the wedding
If you and your husband head straight off on honeymoon the maid of honour will probably be responsible for returning any hired clothes or accessories as well as being asked to store your dress until you return. She might also be asked to assist with removing any decorations from the venue and tidying up any other organisational loose ends.
Our team are here when you need us
Asking someone to be your maid of honour is no small thing – they are taking on a big and difficult job. However, if you book a dedicated wedding venue like Clevedon Hall our expert team of wedding specialist will be there for her, and you. Whether the two of you want advice, ideas or recommendations we’re only too happy to help in any way we can