Maid of Honor vs. Matron of Honor: What's the Difference?

And can you have both?
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 Sep 27, 2023

You think you know what goes into wedding planning until you're smack-dab in the middle of it, facing one decision after another. For many couples—especially those with a big family and/or group of friends—deciding who will be part of the wedding party can be a stressful process. One way to add more special people to stand by her side is to have both a maid and a matron of honor. But what's the difference? Here, we spoke with wedding planners about a maid vs. matron of honor—and how to include both in your once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

In this article:

What Is a Matron of Honor?

The highest of wedding party honors, the matron of honor is a married friend that you have asked to stand by your side on your wedding day as your lead attendant, according to Nora Sheils, the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and the founder of Bridal Bliss. In many cases, this is a very special designation of the wedding party, though some people may have more than one.

What Is the Difference Between a Matron of Honor and a Maid of Honor?

According to wedding planner and founder of Scarlet Rose Events, Katy Padilla, the difference between a matron of honor and a maid of honor simply comes down to semantics: one is married, and one is not.

"A matron of honor will have all the tips and tricks when it comes to wedding planning, so utilize that power and allow her to assist more with the wedding weekend activities, whereas a maid of honor can curate a fabulous bachelorette party and bridal shower," she explains.

Does the Maid of Honor Have To Be Married?

No, a maid of honor does not have to be married, Padilla says. "No matter the marital status of your maid of honor, her purpose of supporting the bride remains the same," she continues. "Although having been married may offer its obvious advantages, it is absolutely not a must when it comes to choosing a maid of honor."

Can You Have a Maid and Matron of Honor?

Not only is a maid and a matron of honor okay etiquette-wise at your wedding, but in many cases, it's preferable. As Padilla explains, having a matron and maid of honor gives a bride the best of both worlds, especially when managing a large bridal party.

"With two MOHs, she will have double the support, double the love, and, specifically, double the trust," she says. "A true bridal wish is to have not only one but two amazing women to be there on her wedding day. So, without a doubt, it is wonderful to have both a maid and a matron of honor."

How to Have Both a Maid and Matron of Honor

If you want a maid and a matron of honor, you will need ways to celebrate and honor them individually. After all, you have a unique relationship with each of them, and you want to ensure they know how much they mean to you. Here, how to split duties—but double the love:

You make the rules.

The first tip—and arguably, the most important one—is to build your wedding party in a way that honors those closest to you. As Sheils puts it, you make the rules on your wedding day, and there is no limit to how many people are in your wedding party, so create the experience with your nearest and dearest that you want.

For example, your oldest sibling (or your mom!) could be your matron of honor, your second oldest sibling and your childhood best friend could be your maid of honor, and your partner's little sister a junior maid of honor, and so on, she suggests.

Give them room to shine.

When including both a matron and maid of honor in a wedding, Padilla says to allow them to stand out from the rest of the bridal party. "Attire is the number one way to show distinction among your girls, so whether that be a pattern or a different color, your MOHs will shine," she says. "Another option is having your bridesmaids sit for the ceremony while the MOHs stand next to you."

Assign duties based on strengths.

Everyone has a talent or strength, so for each role, assign tasks that fit their personalities, Sheils recommends. Perhaps the matron of honor can do the reading during the ceremony while the maid of honor delivers the main speech during dinner. "Your maid of honor could coordinate a choreographed dance or song with the rest of your wedding party to get the crowd laughing at the rehearsal dinner," she adds. And the matron of honor can take the lead on bridal party planning.

Who Walks Down the Aisle First: Maid or Matron of Honor?

Traditionally, the matron of honor will walk down the aisle last before the grand entrance; however, if you have a maid of honor instead, they would go first, Sheils says. "Sometimes, couples choose to go in reverse order and have their wedding party line fill up from first to last instead of last to first — but it all comes down to personal preference."

Another option is to have the MOHs walk down the aisle together, escorted by the best man, Padilla says. "When it comes to who stands closer to the bride, we recommend putting value into family vs. friends. If your matron of honor is your older sister, have her next to you and your best friend/maid of honor next in line," she adds.

Who Gives the Speech First: Maid or Matron of Honor?

If you're having both a maid and a matron of honor as part of your wedding party, they will both give speeches at your reception, usually after the parents and before the best man. Who goes first? Well, there's really no rule dictating the specific maid vs. matron of honor speech order. They can decide among themselves based on comfort level, flip a coin or give a joint speech—it's completely their call!

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