Roles and Responsibilities of the Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids
Of all the participants in the wedding, the Maid of Honor (or Matron of Honor if she is already married) carries the mother lode of all duties, save the bride and groom. Find out what she and the rest of the ‘maids are responsible for.
Where to begin? From the moment she accepts the position as head attendant, the Maid of Honor (MOH) is expected to remain involved in just about every facet of wedding planning—plus, act pretty much as the go-to person on the actual Big Day.
While bridesmaids, too, have plenty of responsibilities ahead, it is the MOH who is specially chosen to contribute her insights, emotional support, organizational abilities, her cool head and, perhaps most important, her time to the bride.
Read on for the ultimate girlfriend guide to the responsibilities of both the MOH and bridesmaids. It takes the term “busy bodies” to a whole new level!
FOR THE MAID OF HONOR
The good news? There’s plenty of shopping ahead for the MOH. From the get-go, you may be asked to accompany the bride on her fact-finding missions, from choosing a ceremony and reception site to picking out flowers, invitations, a caterer and cake maker.
If the groom wants to bow out of trips to stores for creating a gift registry, the MOH may be tapped to help the bride pick out what she needs for her new home. Even if she’s not asked to join in this excursion, the MOH is expected to spread the word to guests about where the couple is registered.
If asked, the MOH may need to assist the bride in addressing the invitations.
The MOH may also be expected to assist with decorations and planning for other pre-wedding parties like the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Even more critical: She’s expected to attend every one of these events as the bride’s right-hand lady.
All The Pretty Dresses
The MOH is often tapped to go wedding gown shopping with the bride as well as help pick out the gowns, shoes, accessories and even bouquets for herself and the other attendants. (Since the MOH pays for her own outfit, it is a plus to have input in this choice!).
What a Beauty
Accompany the bride to her hair and makeup tryouts.
Have a Seat
Probably one of the more daunting tasks leading up to the wedding, the MOH may help the bride with the seating chart for the reception.
Where does the MOH make her mark pre-wedding? She organizes the bachelorette party just before the wedding. And should the bride’s mom, sis or another friend neglect to step in, the MOH may host the bridal shower too. (Even if she doesn’t host this event, the MOH is expected to act as record-keeper for all gifts so the bride knows who to thank for each present. She can also craft the kitschy, time-honored “ribbon bouquet” the bride carries down the aisle at the rehearsal.)
As the leader of the pack, the MOH is the contact person for all of the bridesmaids. She also manages many of the follow-up conversations with the attendants over their dresses, shoes, fittings, flowers, hair, the parties they should attend and just about any detail that slips past the bride. On the morning of the wedding, the MOH also checks in with the attendants to make sure they have transportation to the ceremony, have their hair and makeup done and have their bouquets in hand.
On the morning of the wedding, the MOH has a lot to do! She makes sure the bride arrives, the bridesmaids all show up and all attendants have their flowers. She may even serve as point-person for vendors, from the hair and makeup pros to the florist, caterer and officiant. She may also be called upon to ferry correspondence from the bride to the groom’s side. Finally, she helps the bride get dressed, arrange her veil and calm her nerves!
Bonus points: carry a small emergency kit for the bride and attendants that may include Band-Aids, safety pins, purse-sized hairspray, pain relievers, a comb and any other item you could use in a fashion 911.
Ah, the payoff: The MOH’s most prestigious duty? Signing the marriage license as an official witness.
The MOH is responsible for the groom’s ring up until the bride actually places it onto the groom’s finger.
It’s curtain time! Arm-in-arm with the Best Man, the MOH walks down the aisle (on the right side) just prior to the bride. She stands at the altar with the rest of the wedding party, between the bridesmaids and bride herself. When the bride arrives, the MOH is allowed to primp the bride’s train and veil as needed, then holds onto her bouquet while she exchanges her vows. Once they’re declared husband and wife, the MOH proceeds back up the aisle with the Best Man after the new Mr. & Mrs.
The MOH participates in all wedding photos requested by the bride.
The MOH should expect to answer a lot of logistical questions from guests during the reception. (Since she’s wearing a special outfit, she’s easy to pick out of the crowd!) She should know where to find the escort cards, the gift table, the bathrooms and so on.
Kick off the reception by bustling the bride’s gown just before she enters the reception hall (if necessary). Then, during the bride and groom’s series of first dances (such as the father-daughter dance), the MOH is expected to participate on the arm of the Best Man.
The MOH usually gives a toast or speech following the Best Man during the reception.
The MOH needs to pace herself at the reception. She’s expected to look after the bride’s attire throughout the party and stay to the very close of the reception. She’s also the point person to help collect the wedding gifts and, at the end, help the bride change out of her gown if she is leaving that night for her honeymoon.
NOW, FOR THE BRIDESMAIDS
Compared to the duties of the Maid of Honor, these girls get off pretty easy. Here’s why:
Party On and On
If the bridesmaid lives near the wedding couple, she’s expected to attend all the pre-wedding parties from the bridal shower to the rehearsal dinner.
Dress the Part
By agreeing to be an attendant, the bridesmaid should know she is expected to pay for her special dress and accessories, get it fitted appropriately and follow the bride’s request for hair and makeup.
The bridesmaid should expect to assist the bride or MOH as needed with decorations, dress shopping trips, assembling invitations or programs or any other task she’s tapped for. Oh, and be on time and low-maintenance for all these events; it will help alleviate the bride's stress beyond measure.
When the MOH falls behind on her duties or something falls between the cracks, a bridesmaid should feel free to jump in and help out with anything from picking up Grandma at the train station for the bridal shower to running last-minute errands.
For a wedding gift to really blow the bride away, it is common for the bridesmaids to come together and buy one big gift for the betrothed.
This edict doesn’t just apply to all wedding-related photo ops! A bridesmaid should put on a happy face at all times and not criticize the decisions the bride makes for her own special day. This means an attendant should jump into customs the bride wants to include in her wedding, from a receiving line to a bouquet toss. She should help out with assembling party favors, if asked. And she should accept graciously the bridesmaid’s dress the bride has chosen—from its color to style—with a genuine smile (not a smirk!)
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