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matron of honor straightening wedding gown of bride during ceremony at old blue rooster event center

The origin of the maid of honor title and tradition is believed to go back to Ancient Rome. During this time the Romans believed that the bride and groom were at risk of attacks by evil spirits. There was a superstition that 5 bridal attendants and 5 groom attendants were needed and they dressed exactly like the bride and groom in order to confuse the evil spirits. The maids acted as protection as the bride traveled to her wedding, and acted as decoys at the same time. The maid of honor helped the bride get dressed and weaved evil spirit warding flowers into the bride’s hair. Nowadays, the maid of honor’s role is more about helping to ease the stress of the day for the bride, as well as being the all around right-hand to the bride for all things wedding.

maid of honor giving toast speech laughing at wedding reception

Planning and prep time period

1. Make sure the maids are set

It’s easy for bridesmaids to procrastinate on ordering their dresses and accessories. An important job for the maid of honor is to keep tabs on where everyone is at in the process. If anyone is slacking or needs extra help, then you need to step up and help out. Your job is to take as much stress off of the bride as she wants; this can really help her have one less thing to worry about.

PRO TIP: Be on the lookout for discounts or deals, and make sure nothing is clearanced out unexpectedly.

2. Write an actual toast

Take some time to read about what a toast is, and what it is meant to be. A toast is not a a speech about your friendship with the bride. It is only about the bride, the groom, and their relationship. Make sure you are not speaking about yourself – ever – when proposing a toast. And make sure you speak a blessing over their lives and always raise your glass, asking for all of the guests to join in on the cheers! We actually wrote a super helpful blog on how to give the best speech ever at a wedding!

3. Throw a bridal shower (& lingerie party)

This is one of the biggest jobs for the maid of honor. Traditionally, you cover all costs and planning of the bridal shower and lingerie party; however, often recently the family may contribute to this. We suggest you 100% plan on doing it all yourself.

Think of interesting conversation starters for the party guests and fun ways to make party games new, or just opt to get rid of them entirely. (We’re not kidding. Many guests hate party games… unless they’re the ones that made them).

For the shower make sure you consult the mother of the bride, or if the mother is not able to be involved, consult the person who ‘mothers’ the bride. Allow the bride to also be part of the planning process. It shows honor and respect to include them, and also helps you make sure to invite all the important people.

For the (optional) lingerie party, make it classy. Think of fun games or activities to do with the bride’s core group of women. Make sure the bride is comfortable with this party because if she isn’t, it’s better to ditch it.

4. Throw a Bachelorette Party

Girls, it’s time to think outside the box and consider what the bride loves — surprise her! If she loves going out and painting the town red — do it! If she loves camping or extreme sports — get it! Although this traditionally happens the night before the wedding, we strongly suggest doing it another weekend. Make sure the bride can walk down the aisle and be her most flawless self.

Find a way to make this an event that brings the entire bridal party together. It is your job to make sure everyone is unified and no one is left out. Make sure you check with the bride to be sure you don’t miss anyone close that she’d want to be invited. Also, it’s becoming more and more popular for this to be co-ed, so do not be afraid of inviting the groomsmen too.

5. Attend Rehearsal

Help the bride to make sure everyone in the wedding party is on the same page for where to be and by what time. The best man should be helping you corral the bridal party in this. Tell everyone to be there 20 minutes earlier than that time! The sooner everyone arrives, the faster you can go eat. Remember that the officiant is on your side and to respect their time. Our culture seems to be losing this idea of respect, and also punctuality, but you will win major brownie points in adulthood and with your bride if you do it at least for her wedding day.

6. Help out-of-town maids with accommodations

If the wedding is local then you’re a rockstar and you know the area. You can provide so much love and help to any out-of-towner bridesmaids. Do them a favor and help them find good lodging so they can enjoy the party, too.

If you are all traveling to a destination wedding, then this is even more important. Make sure to consult the bride, their family, and the maids to make sure you are all on the same page and in the same location.

7. Plug everything into Google Maps ahead of time

If you aren’t able to visit all the wedding day locations beforehand, make sure the addresses all work, are correct, and get them saved to your navigation app before you’re late to your best friend’s wedding. Make sure everyone has the same addresses and that everyone is on the same page for arriving 20 minutes early. **Don’t tell them it’s 20 minutes early.

8. Ask the bride if she already has a checklist/task list for you

Sometimes a bride will have a huge list of needs but will be too nervous or sweet to ask for help. Make sure to ask her what you can help with and if she says she doesn’t want to bother you with any more tasks, tell her you’re helping her anyway! If it means the bride can get sleep and some extra special pampering the week of her wedding, then you have to make sure you up your game and let yourself get tired so she can get her beauty rest.

If anything is DIY or needs set up then make sure you are part of the team, or heading the team. The bride and groom need to be as hands off from this as they can be or as they want to be. The day of can be so stressful already, so the more you can do to help them, the more they will love you for it.

9. Learn how to sew a button on (and pack a sewing kit)

Something always breaks or rips on the wedding day. I repeat, something always breaks. Try your best to be prepared for at least the clothing malfunctions by learning how to sew on a button, a snap, or how to quickly repair a torn veil.

Pack a sewing kit and we promise you will not be sorry. You may in fact save the wedding day! Or at least your friends will marvel at how skilled at life you are. We have a thorough blog post here on packing the ultimate emergency kit for a wedding day to take this to the next level!

maid of honor giving toast speech at wedding reception while bride and groom cry with tears in their eyes

Your job on the day of the wedding

1. Make sure the bride is hydrated and not hungry

Your best friend has a lot on her mind today. She may feel too nervous to eat, and may even forget to drink. Take the time to chase her around with a glass of water until she drinks it because she needs it. No one should become dehydrated because they are too busy on their wedding day. Also make sure to carry a couple light energy bars or the bride’s favorite treats. Low blood sugar and standing for a 30 minute ceremony are not a good mix.

2. Keep track of the rings

Communicate with the best man and decide if you will carry one ring or if he will carry both. If there are children walking the real rings down the aisle, then that needs to be discussed too. There needs to be a plan in place in case the children flee or fall and send the rings flying.

Work with the photographer and make sure all the rings are accessible before the ceremony for styling and capturing.

3. Help the bride relieve herself

Yes. You heard me right. In the event that your bride has lots of layers to her dream ballgown wedding dress she will need assistance using the restroom. Offer to help before she asks because it is an awkward thing for her to ask of anyone, even her best friend. And with point 1 above, while you want her to stay hydrated, you also don’t want to force her to drink so often that you have to take her to the bathroom and get that dress out of the way every 15 minutes.

4. Help discreetly pay vendors

This if often the best man’s job, but there are so many hands that have been hired to help make the wedding day celebration awesome (the officiant, dj, photographers, caterer, musicians, etc) and the bride and groom are busy enough without having to worry about making sure they pay everyone before they head out for their wedding night and honeymoon.

Make sure to offer to help them get all the checks into the right hands before the end of the night. It will take a lot of stress off their day.

5. Make sure someone has the marriage license and be ready to witness it

THIS IS BIG. Do not let anyone forget the marriage license, and if they do, do everything you can to track it down yourself. Make sure you remember that it must be signed and witnessed and never assume someone else has it taken care of.

6. Get familiar with the timeline

The bride and groom know that there is a timeline of events for the day, however they will not have time to keep track of it on the day of their wedding. Assist the coordinators and photographers by helping the bride stay on track and help her stay calm. The timeline often gets behind. Help her remember that no matter what the time is she is getting married to her most favorite human on the planet no matter what.

7. Keep the bride calm

When nerves get up, anything can happen. Our bodies send off natural defenses and sometimes those are unwanted and problematic. Consider packing a small emergency kit of anti inflammatories, Pepto, anti-diarrheal’s, Tums, and anything else she loves like chocolates.

Make sure to read the instructions and be super careful when giving your bride any medicines to help her symptoms. Especially do not let her take one to many anti-diarrheal pills. (this is experience talking from MY wedding day! Ahh!)

8. Help the bride get dressed

As you saw at the top of this post, this is where it all began. The maid of honor helped the bride prepare for her wedding day by dressing her and protecting her from anyone who would cause her any harm. You’re basically a bridal bodyguard. You can help her put on her jewelry, touch up her makeup, button the dress, latch her shoes, and basically do anything you can think of that will help her.

And if you want to be super cool you could come up with secret codes for the bridal party and carry a mace… just in case.

9. Make your toast

It’s finally time to share your beautifully crafted salute to your best friend and their partner. You only have one shot at delivering this, so make sure you are ready. Do not drink lots of alcohol to calm your nerves because it will only cause you to make a fool of yourself and say something that is off script. The DJ, photographer, and videographer will have records of what you said and will most likely offer it to the bride and groom to keep forever. This IS big. That is why you need to make sure you are sharing exactly what your older, wiser self is hoping you will share. You will be recorded on a video. Again, we wrote an awesome blog on how to give the best toast, so check it out!

10. Keep girls on task during photos

Most of the time photographers will fly through their list of poses, but sometimes it takes some playing to get the photos just right. It can be hard to stand and wait on the photographer to perfect a shot, but it will be worth it for the bride and groom. Also encourage them to wait to do any drinking until the reception so they look and feel their best.

11. Escort the bride

If there isn’t a driving service hired for the entire day, someone will need to buddy up with the bride, especially if her dress is huge. From driving her to even making sure her dress is clean and safe throughout the entire process (getting into a car, closing a door, and getting out of a car can be ultra tricky) is so important.

PRO-TIP: Don’t let anyone take each other’s keys! This is not a drill. We have been at at least FOUR weddings where the bride and groom were late to their reception (or ceremony!) because someone drove off with their keys. We also were late ourselves once because someone picked up OUR keys trying to help. We also had a bride and groom unable to leave in their getaway car once because their keys seemed to sprout legs and walk off. Seriously, make everybody hold on to their own keys.

12. Be the DD

Try to avoid alcohol completely and make sure your best friend is safe and not drinking too much, too. You want her to remember her wedding day! Also, in case the bride and groom are over doing it, someone will need to transport them unless they are hiring a driving service. Do not let them drive intoxicated, and do not drive them while you are intoxicated. You also want to be your best for your toast, and you do not want to create a Kanye moment.

13. Prep the Getaway

If they are hiring a service, then just make sure that you call the service to let them know the bride and groom are ready to be escorted away. If the bride and groom are driving their own vehicle, then make sure it is prepped and ready to go. If this means getting it vacuumed and taking it through the carwash — awesome (but make sure seats won’t be wet with shampoo!) If it means writing sappy phrases or “Just Married!!” on the back, then do it!

Do not prank the car. Repeat, do not prank their car! They are exhausted and exhilarated at the end of their wedding day. Do not be remembered as the one who spoiled it. Remember you are their right hand woman and they chose you because they care about you and trust you.

maid of honor hugs bride after giving toast speech at wedding reception bride crying

At the wedding’s conclusion

1. Offer to take the gown to be dry cleaned

Wedding gowns get totally filthy between walking through grasses and treading through rain and mud. And if anything is spilled on the gown, it is crucial to get it out immediately in order to preserve its beauty for a lifetime. Get to know local shops that specialize in wedding dresses and avoid places that have disclaimers that you need to sign that “they are not responsible for any damages that happen to the dress.” Run away from those shops. Make sure the bride approves of the shop beforehand and that she doesn’t need it for her honeymoon for any reason. And lastly, guard it with your life the entire time it’s in your possession!

2. Help clean up & move gifts to the new home

The gifts and DIY decorations can be overwhelming for the family at the conclusion of the wedding. Stay late and make sure every wedding party member has a job to relieve the stress of the family, who just threw one of the biggest parties they will ever throw. Help get everything packed into cars and transported to a safe location for the night. Help the family make sure they have cleaned the venue back to the necessary state for the contract.

You are now the most honorable maid of honor.

Before reading this list, you may have had no idea just how important your role is in the success of a wedding day. You will be tired or even exhausted at the end of the day, but you will rest easy knowing that no one can match your BFF status and that you made sure your best friend had the best marriage celebration she could have dreamed of!

You’ve got this.

Read up on our counterpart blog, how to be the best best man right here.

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