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What Does a Maid of Honor Do?

by Molly Jones
Last updated on March 27, 2023
maid of honor helping bride get ready

Nowadays, “what does a maid of honor do?” is a loaded question. Mostly because people are no longer opting for no-frills weddings. What was once a simple affair involving immediate family can now be a blow-out spectacle. One packed with lavish traditions, customs, and expectations.

From wedding dress shopping to planning the bachelorette party (and more) we’ve broken down what to expect when you’re the maid of honor.

A Brief History of the Maid of Honor

Ancient Romans used Maids of Honor. What does a maid of honor do.
The Maid of Honor Tradition Started in Ancient Rome

The maid of honor role is not new. In fact, it originates from an Ancient Roman law. The law required ten witnesses to outwit evil spirits intending to harm the bride on their wedding day. To outwit the spirits, members of the bridal party would dress like the bride. They forced the evil spirit to become confused about who the bride was, foiling any devious plans.

The maid of honor in Ancient Rome was also responsible for helping the bride get ready on her wedding day. A tradition that continues to this day.

Today, those ancient traditions still hold true—with some modern updates, of course. As weddings have become grander, the maid of honor duties have also become more demanding. Wedding planning is often described as a full-time job, and it really is. So it makes sense that a bride without a wedding planner would need all the help she can get. Enter the wedding party, and specifically, the maid of honor!

The Maid of Honor Is an Integral Part of the Wedding Planning Process

Know Your Pre-Wedding Responsibilities. What does a maid of honor do.
Know Your Pre-wedding Responsibilities

The bulk of the important maid of honor duties is pre-wedding responsibilities. This means that you have a lot of time to plan ahead and make sure everything is perfect. So take your time, and don’t worry about getting it all done quickly. You’ve got plenty of time to do things right. Minus all the planning stress and turmoil that wedding planning can cause.

Help the Bride Find the Perfect Wedding Dress and More: Tackling the Details

Maid of Honor Duties are Extensive. What does a maid of honor do.
Maid of Honor Duties Are Extensive

Your top priority is making sure your friend feels comfortable and excited about her wedding day. You’ll be walking through the venue with her, helping her go over vendor lists, and even acting as a guide through all of the planning.

Wedding dress shopping is one the most glamorous task a bride-to-be can undertake. And with the maid of honor at her side, it’s even more fun. As the bride’s right-hand helper, you’ll make sure they are not settling for anything but the perfect dress that represents the bride’s personality. Additionally, you may be asked to help the bride make bridesmaid dress choices and help coordinate dress fittings for the bride and bridesmaids alike.

Dresses aside, you are an integral part of her wedding planning. Expect to walk through the wedding venue with her, as well as help her go over the wedding vendors. You will be a guide through all of the miscellaneous planning details.

Pre-wedding Events and the Maid of Honor

Wedding party, what does a maid of honor do.
Bridal Party

There are plenty of chances for the bridal party to get together well before the wedding to celebrate the bride-to-be. As maid of honor, you’ll have a hand in making all of them happen.

The Engagement Party

Work with The Couple's Parents to Plan the Engagement Party
Work With the Couple’s Parents To Plan the Engagement Party

Often, the bride and groom’s parents organize the engagement party. However, it is becoming more common for the bride and groom’s friends to help out as well. As maid of honor, you may be expected to help out by sending out invitations, organizing seating arrangements, or even making decorations.

By the time this party rolls around the other bridesmaids in the bridal party will be aware of their tasks. But still, they may not know each other yet. As maid of honor, send out an introductory email to the bridal party so everyone can get to know one another ahead of time. If you know who the groomsmen are, send an introduction email out to the entire wedding party. This way, everyone will know each other beforehand.

The Bridal Shower

You Will Help Host a Bridal Shower
You Will Help Host a Bridal Shower

In general, maid of honor duties extend to planning the bridal shower. However, the mother of the bride will sometimes want to plan the shower herself. In this case, as maid of honor, you will help with all of your expertise and experience.

The first thing you should do is ask her when she wants to have it. This can be several months before the wedding. The next step is to research what kind of theme she’d like for the shower. She may already have something in mind or she may not know what she wants at all. If this is the case, just ask her if there are any colors or styles that she likes and go from there.

If you’re having trouble deciding on decorations or food ideas, try looking at bridal magazines. You can even search websites for ideas and inspiration! Ask friends who have experience throwing showers for others for help–they probably have some great ideas themselves! Last but certainly not least, make sure everything is organized so you don’t forget important details.

The Bachelorette Party

Host a fun event, what does a maid of honor do.
Host a Fun Bachelorette Party

Planning the bachelorette party is a big job, and the maid of honor is responsible for many of the details. Here are some tips for making sure you’re on top of it all:

  • Pick a location that’s convenient for everyone in your group. If you can’t get everyone together at once, make sure you have a backup plan in case people can’t make it.
  • Find out whether there’s a dress code (or if your bride wants to wear something specific). If so, buy or rent what she wants you to wear so you don’t have to worry about it later. You’ll thank yourself when you’re in the limo on the way home from work on Friday evening and someone says “Oh wow! Your dress is so cute!”
  • Make sure everyone has their own room at the hotel—and make sure they’re comfortable with sharing space with other people they might not know very well! Some people are more social than others and may want to hang out with everyone else all weekend long. Others might prefer their own space so they can rest.
  • Most of all, have fun! The entire bridal party has assembled to celebrate the bride’s last night of freedom. Take advantage of it and have fun. Just don’t do anything you may later regret. (And be sure to pack Advil in the bachelorette party goody bags!)

The Rehearsal Dinner

A Rehearsal Dinner Should Be Fun and Relaxed
A Rehearsal Dinner Should Be Fun and Relaxed

The wedding rehearsal is a time for everyone to run through their roles during the wedding weekend. You will learn where to stand during the ceremony, what order people should walk down the aisle, who is giving whom away, and much more.

The rehearsal dinner is usually held after the wedding rehearsal. It is a wonderful opportunity for you and all the bridesmaids to continue to celebrate the bride and groom.

The dinner is not just an opportunity for you as a maid of honor to have fun with your friends and family; it’s also an opportunity for you to meet some of their friends who may be attending the wedding as well!

The Maid of Honor Duties: The Wedding Day Tasks

Set Your To-Do List
Set Your To-Do List

The day is finally here! After months of wedding planning, it may seem like a relief to finally have the big day arrive and your bride is probably feeling all the feelings and all the excitement. It’s your job as maid of honor to ensure she has a wonderful day.

Before the Wedding

First things first: Keep her calm before walking down the aisle. It’s normal for brides to feel anxious before their big day, but there are lots of ways you can help them stay relaxed. In the bridal suite when you’re getting ready make sure she’s hydrated with some water or a light snack. You should provide food before she gets dressed–you don’t want her hands shaking when she ties the knot!

The Wedding Ceremony and Wedding Photos

Help Out During the Wedding Ceremomy
Help Out During the Wedding Ceremomy

During the wedding ceremony, after the bride arrives at the altar, take a moment to smooth her train so she continues to look picture perfect for wedding photos. She will also hand you her bridal bouquet to hold for her as she slides the groom’s wedding ring onto their finger. After the ceremony, you may be asked to sign the marriage license as a witness.

After the ceremony, you will take wedding photos with all of the wedding party. While taking photos, you may be tasked with holding the bride’s bouquet and keeping the bridesmaids focused. With your help, the photos will be perfect.

The Maid of Honor Duties: The Wedding Reception

You Will Have Duties During the Reception
You Will Have Duties During the Reception

At the reception, one of your final duties will be to give a speech about the bride and her new husband.

Your speech should be short, sweet, and heartfelt. You should stick to one or two main points that you want to get across: how much she means to you and why you’re so excited for her future with her new husband. You can also talk about some funny stories from your time together as friends. Or you can just touch on how much she’s grown since you first met her. Keep it light-hearted and fun. Your speech should leave everyone smiling—and maybe shedding a tear or two.

After your toast, it’s time to rip it up on the dance floor, enjoy wedding cake, and simply enjoy yourself. It’s taken a long time to get to where you are today so remember to enjoy it!

Remember To Enjoy Yourself

Being a maid of honor means making sure the bride has everything she needs to have an amazing, beautiful day. But it also means that you get to be a part of something special and unique.

So remember to enjoy yourself! Even though it’s your job to make sure that all of the details are in place, you’re still getting to celebrate alongside your best friend as she marries the love of her life.

You’re going to have so many moments where it feels like you’re running from one place to another without ever stopping or taking a breath, but take some time for yourself during this busy time. Do something fun for yourself—maybe go for a run or watch a movie—and remind yourself that you’re doing this because you love the bride.