Your Complete Guide to Maid of Honor Duties

This is your maid of honor's official job description, in excruciating detail.
kim forrest the knot
by
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated Mar 06, 2024

A maid of honor should be a lot of things: part worker bee, part emotional lifeboat, part ball of energy. Sounds like a lot of pressure and a lot of maid of honor duties to worry about, right? It's not so bad —in fact, it can be a ton of fun—but it's also important for the maid of honor to know what she's getting into and exactly what is expected of her. Below, find the main duties every maid of honor should know about.

In this article:

What Is a Maid of Honor?

In short, the maid of honor is the head bridesmaid, responsible for leading all of the bridal-party-related tasks and generally being the bride's right hand. "The maid (or matron) of honor is the bride's go-to friend before, during and after the wedding day," says Camila Craft of Spellbound Events in Charleston, South Carolina. "The MOH wears many hats, including that of party planner, hype woman, timeline keeper, confidante, problem solver, solicited opinion-giver, therapist and mediator."

You've probably heard the term matron of honor, as well. A matron of honor is married herself, while a maid of honor is not. Yes, you can have both a maid of honor and a matron of honor, or no maid of honor at all, if preferred. Depending on the gender identity of your lead attendant, you can also enlist a man of honor, mate of honor, person of honor or best friend of honor.

Printable Maid of Honor Duties Checklist

One easy way to keep the key MOH responsibilities top of mind? Use this printable checklist of prewedding, wedding day and postwedding maid of honor duties. You can even save it to your wedding Pinterest board.

Free, Printable Maid of Honor Duties Checklist
Design: Tiana Crispino

Prewedding Maid of Honor Duties

Before the wedding, the maid of honor's main responsibility is being a source of support for the bride, communicating with the bridesmaids and ensuring all the important tasks get done.

Lead the bridesmaid troops.

So what does a maid of honor do? The list begins with leadership. This is probably the most important order of business your maid of honor will have. Of course, the other bridesmaids will have their fair share of things to do and should certainly assist her (she'll probably need lots of help planning your bachelorette party, after all), but your maid of honor should be the "director" at the end of the day.

Introduce the bridesmaids and spearhead communication.

Oftentimes, the bridal party consists of people from different parts of the bride's life—family members, grade-school friends, college buddies and more. It's the maid of honor's duty to introduce everyone and set up a group text or other easy form of communication. She might also set up some hangouts (virtual or in person) so the bridal party can bond.

Compile a bridal party budget.

We know, being a bridesmaid can get expensive. Early on, the maid of honor should talk to each member of the bridal party about their budgets for the wedding. This can help inform pre-wedding party ideas—for example, maybe you'll skip the luxe bachelorette trip to Paris if a majority of the crew are on strict budgets and plan something closer to home.

Deal with any conflicts.

We hate to say it, but it's true—bridal parties don't always get along. And it's the maid of honor's responsibility to mediate any conflicts so they don't add more stress to the bride's plate. So if two 'maids aren't vibing, the MOH needs to step in, bring both warring parties together and hash things out so the bride doesn't have to.

Be the official wedding party point person.

The maid of honor and best man are often seen as the main points of contact between the couple and wedding guests. If guests (especially those who aren't computer-savvy and won't look at the wedding website) have questions about the big day, they'll likely reach out to the MOH for answers.

(Potentially) attend wedding dress shopping outings.

The maid of honor may be invited to wedding dress shopping appointments, providing her opinion on attire options for the bride. We recommend approaching these appointments with a positive, supportive vibe to boost the bride's confidence, rather than dismissing dress options and pointing out flaws.

Head up bridesmaid dress shopping and ordering.

One of the most important maid of honor duties? Helping the bride choose bridesmaid dresses, organizing shopping trips and coordinating online orders to make sure everyone has the correct looks and secures them (along with any required accessories!) in a timely fashion.

Be the bride's emotional support.

The bride should always feel comfortable talking to the maid of honor about wedding-related topics, and most likely, she'll be more than happy to lend an ear. Whether it's about planning or your china pattern, the bride should always feel assured that she has someone to share your thoughts with. In our opinion, laughter is the best medicine for the stressed-out bride—and hopefully your maid of honor knows how to effectively get you there.

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Maid of Honor Bridal Shower Duties

The bridal shower is the MOH's time to shine, as she plans this pre-wedding event with the bridesmaids' help. Here's a rundown of the most important maid of honor duties related to the shower.

Confirm hosting responsibilities.

It shouldn't be assumed that the bridal party is hosting the shower. Nowadays, the bride's mother or other family members might want to host. Be sure to reach out to those closest to the bride before starting to plan to ensure you're not stepping on any toes. And if the bride's mom or someone else is hosting, let them take the lead but offer to help as needed.

Figure out the basics.

Coordinate with the bride and VIPs on a suitable date and time, as well as the guest list. You'll want to ensure the guest of honor feels comfortable with the size and vibe of the event (don't plan a huge bash if she wants an intimate celebration)—and whether it's a traditional bridal shower or a couple's shower. You'll also want to work with the other stakeholders to come up with a budget for the event.

Secure a venue and/or vendors.

Decide if the bridal shower will take place at someone's home, a restaurant or another event space. And if you'll be working with vendors such as a caterer, florist and/or photographer to put on the event, check out The Knot Marketplace to find and book 'em.

Plan games and activities.

As host of the bridal shower, the maid of honor should plan games and activities and create a timeline for the event so everything runs smoothly.

Purchase decorations, favors and gifts.

From decorating the space to securing favors, many of the little details of planning a bridal shower fall to the maid of honor. And yes, even if she's planning the event, the MOH still should get the bride a bridal shower gift (though it can be small and sentimental rather than expensive).

Be the emcee.

During the shower, the maid of honor is often the de facto emcee of the event, making announcements, explaining activities and generally moving the party along. She may also give a short speech at the shower, sharing her love and support for the bride and thanking everyone for attending.

Track gifts and make the ribbon bouquet.

Another maid of honor responsibility during the bridal shower is helping the bride open gifts, making sure all gifts and givers are written down and helping to create the ribbon bouquet, which is saved so the bride can carry it during the ceremony rehearsal.

Maid of Honor Bachelorette Party Duties

"The maid (or matron) of honor should plan to be the person who is primarily responsible for the planning of the bachelorette party," says Craft. "It is her job to rally the other bridesmaids together, collect information and be sensitive to the budgets and work schedules of the other bridesmaids when considering dates, venues, accommodations, travel and activities for the bachelorette party." Here's a list of a maid of honor's bachelorette party duties.

Coordinate dates, theme and location.

The maid of honor should work with the bride and bridal party to select dates that work for everyone, and choose a general theme and location. Will the bach party be held locally or in a faraway destination? That depends on everyone's schedules, budgets and, obviously, what the bride wants.

Make travel and lodging arrangements.

If the crew will be traveling to their bachelorette destination, the maid of honor should coordinate transportation (flights, car rentals, etc.) and accommodations—though each guest will pay their own way.

Book activities and make meal reservations.

Usually, the maid of honor is the bachelorette cruise director—planning activities, finding restaurants and creating a schedule for the weekend. However, this can be a shared responsibility among the bridesmaids.

Buy swag.

Bachelorette swag can be a fun addition to the celebration (though it's not required). The MOH is responsible for purchasing any giveaways (don't worry, The Knot Shop has lots of affordable options).

Lead the celebration.

From decorating the Airbnb to making sure that the crew makes it to dinner on time, the maid of honor heads up the bachelorette festivities, while of course making sure the bride has the best time.

Maid of Honor Duties on Wedding Day

On the big day, the maid of honor is the bride's right hand, helping her with any last-minute tasks and alleviating stress. For a more specific list, check out these maid of honor duties for the wedding day.

Create an emergency kit.

The maid of honor is responsible for creating an emergency kit with items like safety pins and fashion tape, and having it on hand before and during the wedding—just in case.

Enforce the timeline.

Shortly before the wedding, the planner or venue coordinator will send a timeline of the weekend's events to the maid of honor and other VIPs. It's the maid of honor's duty to review this schedule and make sure that important times (and frequent reminders!) are communicated to the bridal party so everyone is where they need to be on time.

Get ready together.

The bride and her bridal party usually get ready for the wedding together. The maid of honor may help coordinate the pre-wedding festivities, including ordering food and drink and decorating the wedding space.

Field last-minute vendor questions.

The maid of honor (and not the bride) should be the main point of contact for wedding vendors on the big day. "The maid of honor should swap contact details with the wedding planner and be prepared to step in to help or answer questions and liaise with the bride if needed," says Craft.

Sign the marriage license.

Both the maid of honor and the best man should sign the marriage license as witnesses.

Hold some things.

This one's easy enough. During the ceremony, the maid of honor's responsibilities include holding the bridal bouquet, along with her own. (Pro tip: The MOH can wrap a few tissues around the stem of her bouquet too, in case the bride or bridesmaids shed a few happy tears too.) The MOH may also be responsible for keeping track of the bride's purse, phone and any other belongings throughout the day.

Make sure the bride eats and drinks.

It's surprisingly easy to forget to eat or drink during the reception (no matter how delicious the food may be!). One of the more important maid of honor duties is to ensure that the newlyweds are well fed (and hydrated) throughout the day.

Be the bathroom assistant.

Maid of honor duties aren't always exciting. While this may not sound like the most glamorous task, there's no doubt that the bride is going to need a hand in the restroom, especially if she's wearing a gown with lots of material.

Act as a back-up hostess.

The maid of honor can also take it upon herself to play hostess a little bit during the reception—whether that includes showing guests where to sit, directing them to restrooms, telling them where to put presents or inviting them to sign the guest book.

Give a speech.

The maid of honor typically gives a speech at the reception. This toast should be written and rehearsed in advance, and relatively short. It should summarize the MOH's relationship with the couple, and express love and congratulations.

Take care of the little things.

During the wedding weekend, the maid of honor is the bride's go-to person for bustling her gown and arranging her veil at the altar; collecting gift envelopes brought to the reception and keeping them in a safe place; and arranging storage for your gown after the all the festivities are said and done (if applicable).

Have fun!

Yes, this all sounds like a lot—and it is!—but a huge part of being a maid of honor is simply having a blast. If you're having fun, the rest of the guests will follow your lead. So hit the dance floor, enjoy the food and drink and celebrate your bestie's happiness.

Maid of Honor Duties After the Wedding Day

You've earned a well-deserved rest after seeing your bestie through one of her biggest life milestones. Before officially hanging up your MOH hat, cross these final to-dos off your list.

Attend the couple's farewell party.

If they're having a postwedding bash before they bid you adieu, the MOH is expected to attend. Take this opportunity to let your hair down and enjoy the celebration, knowing all of your dedication and support has paid off.

Make sure wedding cards and gifts are delivered to the couple.

As the bride's right-hand woman, you may have helped to collect cards and gifts on the wedding day. Afterward, make sure everything makes its way to the couple as intended so that they can enjoy their guests' well wishes (and get started on thank-you notes!).

Take care of any remaining bridal party admin.

The wedding might be over, but you're still the lead point of contact for bridesmaids in the wedding party. It's helpful for the maid of honor to step in and head up any leftover tasks, such as coordinating outstanding expenses that need to be divided between the group.

Maid of Honor Duties for Destination Weddings

If you're a maid of honor for a destination wedding, won't change all that much. The main added responsibility is booking your own travel and accommodations, and ensuring that the rest of the bridal party does the same. Another task, says Craft, is familiarizing yourself with the wedding location.

"If the wedding is a destination, it would be helpful for the maid of honor to do some research ahead of time around local dialects, currencies and transit/travel options in case the bride needs help with any of the above," Craft says.

Maid of Honor vs. Bridesmaid Duties

The roles of a bridesmaid and the maid of honor are pretty similar. The main difference between the two jobs is that the maid of honor leads, while the bridesmaids provide support. For example, all of the bridesmaids will help plan the bridal shower, but the maid of honor heads up the effort and has final decision-making power. That's why it's so important to choose the head bridesmaid carefully.

"We often stress to brides that the maid of honor doesn't necessarily have to be the person who is 'closest' to you in terms of friendship, but should be the person who is most responsible and would welcome and enjoy the role," says Craft. "The maid of honor has more responsibility overall, both in terms of duties and financial investment, than the other bridesmaids."

What Is the Maid of Honor Expected to Pay For?

Being a maid of honor comes with its own financial responsibilities—and it can get pretty expensive.

"We often see the maid of honor assist in covering the cost of the bridal shower (often in conjunction with a family member of the bride), covering her own costs and some of the costs of the bride for the bachelorette party (in conjunction with the rest of the bridesmaids), her own travel to and from the wedding, a wedding gift to the couple, professional hair and makeup (if it's not required by the bride), her attire and other accessories for the wedding and surrounding celebrations and sometimes smaller things like chipping in for food and beverage on the morning of the wedding, if needed," says Craft.

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