Trying to Choose Your Maid of Honor? Read This

This one's a biggie, so make sure you're making the right choice.
lindsay tigar the knot
Lindsay Tigar
lindsay tigar the knot
Lindsay Tigar
Wedding Planning Contributor
  • Lindsay contributes articles to The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in honeymoon travel and creating wedding planning.
  • Lindsay owns a content agency, Tigar Types, to help businesses of all sizes grow their digital footprints.
  • Lindsay freelances for a plethora of publications, covering many topics, ranging from wedding advice and planning to travel, health and more.
Updated Nov 02, 2023

Finding the person you will marry might have been a long, sometimes exhausting, journey. But your best friend? That's an easier relationship—and one that was there alongside you each step (or bad date) of the way. So, when it comes time to choose your maid of honor, you may have a good idea of who you want to ask. Even so, you might feel anxious about hurting the feelings of other close pals or even family members.

Here, we talked to experts on selecting the best maid of honor to stand by you on the big day and the planning process, as well as practical tips on appropriate communication. It's your special day—and drama-free is the goal for everyone.

In this article:

How to Choose Your Maid of Honor | How to Avoid Hurt Feelings | FAQs

Tips on How to Choose Your Maid of Honor

After accepting your proposal, it's time to initiate another: the most VIP person in your wedding party. Before you jump and rush to text your bestie, try your best to take a pause and think critically about who will be your MOH.

1. Think of the responsibilities.

Though it may not feel like it at first, selecting your maid of honor is a significant decision in the wedding planning process, according to Sarah Anderson, a wedding planner for Twickenham House and Hall. As she reminds excited and eager brides, the maid of honor is responsible for planning the bachelorette party, coordinating the other bridesmaids, buffering or delegating information during wedding week, and countless details and duties throughout the wedding process.

"Unfortunately, familial or friend politics often make the decision challenging," she adds. But in reality, brides need to envision who would be the most supportive and helpful throughout the process. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Which individual does the bride want at the dress fittings?
  • Who does she trust to make executive decisions?
  • Who understands the complexities of family relationships and dynamics?
  • Who will follow through and keep their promises?
  • Who will make the bride feel calm, comfortable and her very best?
  • Who will advocate for the bride?

2. Choose the peacekeeper.

Beyond availability and understanding the role, you should opt for the maid of honor who will be sensitive to the rest of the wedding party members, suggests Kevin Dennis, the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services. "Tensions can run high during wedding planning when it comes to friends and family, and sometimes, the maid of honor needs to step in and diffuse the situation to avoid bringing any conflict to you and your partner," he continues. "They should be cognizant of any budget constraints, timing issues, etc., and it's imperative that they can keep a level head through the inevitable stress."

3. If you can't decide, consider your options.

If you're finding it difficult to choose between close friends or family members, remember there is no one-size-fits-all way to plan your wedding. In fact, many modern brides are deciding to have co-maids of honor, according to Joan Wyndrum, the founder and owner of Blooms by the Box. "Show gratitude to all your friends for their support and express how much their friendship means to you, and assign different roles to each," she says. "This way, you acknowledge the importance of both relationships."

How to Not Hurt Feelings When Choosing Your Maid of Honor

Anderson says honest conversations with prospective maids of honor are essential when planning a wedding. Often, the root of hurt feelings is uncommunicated expectations or ideas between individuals.

"When the couple gets engaged and the bride selects their wedding party, having honest conversations between friends and family members who may expect an invitation to the wedding party is essential," she says. "If the bride chooses a friend for the position over a sister, having conversations with both individuals about their roles and significance to the bride is significant in preserving feelings."

Note that you don't have to have a maid of honor if choosing one proves to be too fraught. Instead, just have bridesmaids so everyone is on equal footing, or skip having a wedding party at all if you'd prefer.

Choosing Your Maid of Honor: Frequently Asked Questions

Who can be a maid of honor?

In short: anyone! As Anderson explains, the maid of honor is any trusted, long standing person of significance in the bride's life who is trusted with decision-making, delegation and supporting the bride throughout the wedding process.

"The individual, though traditionally another female, can be any gender. Traditionally, a family member or a friend fills this role due to the longevity and depth of their relationship," she adds.

Who should you pick as your maid of honor?

Traditionally, if the bride has a sister, she is expected to fulfill the role of the maid of honor. However, Anderson explains within the last few decades, having friends over sisters in the position has become common and accepted in the wedding world.

"If the bride chooses family over friends and has numerous sisters, selecting the closest in age and relationship is traditional," she continues. "For close-knit families, having two maids of honor or a maid and matron if one sister is married is beneficial in deciding which individual fills the role."

You might be wondering if you can ask your mom to be your maid of honor. The short answer: Absolutely! And if you have younger loved ones you'd like to honor, you can definitely include a junior maid of honor in your wedding party.

How early should you choose your maid of honor?

Depending on the length of the engagement, the maid of honor should know their role by eight months before the wedding date, Anderson advises. How come? Well, the MOH has a long list of responsibilities, and you want to give her enough time to plan the party, budget, order and alter their dress. "For destination weddings, or if the maid of honor does not live close to the bride, a longer period allows for coordinating amidst different schedules and proximities," she adds.

Do you have to ask someone because they asked you?

Dennis says you definitely don't have to take someone up on their offer of being maid of honor. In fact, most people shouldn't ask the person getting married if they can have a role in their wedding—it should be totally up to you. If someone puts unnecessary pressure on you to have them in your wedding party, you are totally entitled to decline politely.

"Let them know that you already made your decision but that you really appreciate them offering to help," he continues. "If it's someone close to you but not that close, it's also a great idea to consider giving them a smaller role. Something easy on the day of will make them feel like they have a responsibility, but it saves you the stress of letting them down."

How do you choose a maid of honor if you have multiple sisters or best friends?

When you have more than one sister, the designated MOH can bring up sibling drama. That's why it's crucial to have a candid conversation with your sisters about your feelings, and if you have any concerns, Wyndrum says.

"If you find it hard to choose between sisters, consider having them as co-maids of honor. This way, they can share the honor and responsibilities," she says. "Consider the depth of your relationship with each sister. Think about what you've shared, the most meaningful experiences and who understands you best. Every family dynamic is unique, but everyone can approach the decision with sensitivity, respect and open communication."

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