One of the first things that many people do upon becoming engaged is to start inviting their close friends and family members to be in their wedding party. Choosing a maid of honor is beautiful but also comes with a great responsibility. Therefore it is important to choose wisely, because it is virtually impossible to rescind an invitation to be a bridesmaid or groomsman. Before you begin selecting your bridal party, make sure you are well versed in the various roles, their responsibilities, and how to choose the right people for each position.
The maid of honor is very often the first wedding attendant selected. She will likely be the bride’s sister or best friend, and may well have been asked to serve as maid of honor at the very same moment the elated bride called to announce her engagement. The conversation probably sounded a lot like this: “Can you believe it – I just got engaged! You have to be my maid of honor of course, and just wait until you see the ring!” And so on and so on, until the recently engaged woman finally stops to take a breath! By definition, the maid of honor should be a maiden; in other words, never married. If your sister or best friend is a married woman (or for that matter, was at some time in the past, if no longer), she would serve as the matron of honor. A bride can have both a maid of honor and a matron of honor sharing the role of lead bridesmaid. This can work out very well when the bride is torn between choosing her sister or her best friend to be her maid of honor. If one is married and the other is single, designate them matron and maid of honor, sparing you the difficult position of having to choose. By the way, if the bride does find it necessary to choose between a friend and sister for her maid of honor, blood should win out.
The maid of honor has some special duties in addition to those of the regular bridesmaids. Above all, she should be the bride’s main source of support: someone who will give honest feedback on the wedding plans (only if asked!), listen to the bride vent about her mother taking over the wedding plans, and will help the bride to stay relaxed in the days leading up to the wedding. The maid of honor will frequently assist the bride in shopping for her wedding gown, bridal jewelry, and other important wedding itineraries. The maid of honor almost always helps with the selection of the bridesmaid dresses and bridesmaid jewelry, and many honor attendants also go with the bride to the florist, stationer, or other wedding shop, particularly if the mother of the bride lives too far away to do these things.
As the bridesmaid-in-chief, the maid of honor has some organizational responsibilities. If the group of bridesmaids elects to give a group gift to the bride and groom, it falls upon the maid of honor to organize the funds and purchase the gift. The maid of honor often plans a bridal shower for the bride about two months before the wedding. It is important for everyone (especially the bride) to realize that the maid of honor and bridesmaids are not obligated to throw a bridal shower, though more often or not, they will choose to do so. If the bride’s sister is the maid of honor, she should not act as the official shower host, although she could certainly assist the host (who should not be a close relative of the bride) in planning and even paying for the event. If the bridesmaids get together and decide to throw a bachelorette party in addition to a bridal shower, the maid of honor is the one who plans it.
On the day of the wedding, the maid of honor has very important tasks. She will generally help the bride get into her wedding finery, and should also help keep the rest of the bridesmaids on schedule to ensure that the ceremony starts on time. The maid of honor traditionally holds the groom’s ring during the ceremony until the ring exchange, although sometimes it is more practical for the best man to hold both rings in one box in his jacket pocket (since the bridesmaids’ dresses are likely to lack pockets). The maid of honor also holds the bridal bouquet during the ceremony, and should also take care to keep the bride’s train neatly arranged during the wedding service. The maid of honor has one more very important job to do after the ceremony, which is to be a witness at the signing of the marriage license. At the conclusion of the ceremony, she is usually expected to stand in the receiving line to greet guests. The maid of honor is not required to give a toast at the reception, although she may certainly do so if inclined. Customarily, she will also dance with the best man during the spotlight dances, and act as a general hostess during the reception, making sure that everyone is having a good time. At the end of the evening, the maid of honor will help the bride change into her going away outfit and takes charge of the bridal gown and accessories.
Not easy being a maid of honor, is it?