The Ultimate Maid-of-Honor Checklist

maid of honor hairstyles bride and maid of honor
Photo: Charla Storey Photography

Consider this your step-by-step guide to being the best right-hand woman to your bride.

01 of 11
maid of honor hairstyles bride and maid of honor
Charla Storey Photography

Your best friend has trusted you to be her maid of honor, which means you're reliable, supportive, and efficient. Plus, chances are you know the bride better than just about anyone else. It's quite a privilege to be named the bride's right-hand woman—which is why we suggest researching your job before wedding planning is in full swing. You'll be asked to do numerous tasks—many of which go beyond wedding dress shopping and wine drinking. To prepare you for one of the most important roles of the wedding party, we've outlined a comprehensive list of your future duties.

As maid of honor, you'll stand by the bride as she says yes to her dream bridal gown, opens her bridal shower gifts, and exchanges vows (you get to hold the bouquet!). Sounds like a fun job—and that's because, in a lot of ways, it is. There are, however, a few not-so-sweet parts of the position. These include mediating bridesmaid conflict, making sure your fellow 'maids attend required fittings, and guaranteeing that all bridal party members are ready on time come the big day.

Of course, your responsibilities as maid of honor rely, in part, on your best friend. Some brides require—or demand—more help than others. To prevent feeling stressed or overworked, try to be honest with the woman of the hour ahead of time and give a realistic estimate of just how committed you can be. As long as you stick to the maid-of-honor guidelines ahead, the bride will be grateful she trusted you with the job.

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How accessible should you be during the wedding planning process?

Lindsay Madden Photography

Your number one job as maid of honor is to listen to and support the bride through thick and thin. Let her know you have her back, whether she needs help deciding on stationery fonts or is looking to vent about wedding stresses. Remember, it's the bride's day—which means prioritizing her needs for the months leading up to the celebration. Try your best to keep an open schedule so she can call on you to help with tasks like bachelorette party planning, cake tastings, and dress fittings.

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How honest should you be during dress fittings?

Brklyn View Photography

The maid of honor is one of the chosen few who gets to go wedding dress shopping. It's important that you are supportive, but honest with her about ever look she tries on. The bride values your opinion—so, if you see her walk out of the dressing room in something unflattering, explain politely that another option may be in her best interest. When she debuts the dream gown, stand up and cheer. It's up to you to build the bride's confidence and get her excited about what is to come.

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Should you be hands-on with the bridesmaids?

alexis zach wedding italy bridesmaids
Kyle John Photography

Even if the bridesmaids bond at first, chances are someone is bound to cause a little tension. When there are too many opinions and personalities involved in planning a bachelorette party or deciding on dresses, for example, these things tend to happen. In the end, it's not about what they—or you—want. Be the voice of reason, don't take sides, and try to get any opponents to resolve their differences. Whatever you do, don't get the bride involved. She has her own battles to fight.

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Are you in charge of anyone besides yourself?

Love & Light Photographs

It's the maid of honor's duty to make sure each member of the bridal party knows what is expected of them, where to be, and when they should arrive. This includes dress fittings, when their shower and bachelorette party financial contributions are due, and what time everyone should be ready on the wedding day. Be efficient and organized, but kind. If you're struggling to connect with certain individuals, make an effort to understand what's going on in their lives. They'll hopefully see your compassionate approach and step up.

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Is it your responsibility to put together a bridal shower?

women toasting with cocktails
Mariel Hannah Photography

In short—yes; but don't be afraid to ask for help. Turn to the bridesmaids, her family members, and her partner when it's time to choose a date and get contact info for the guests. When picking out the theme, put yourself in the bride's shoes. What setting and aesthetic best fits her personality? What food and drinks would she love the most? What activities would the bride and her friends enjoy doing? As maid of honor, these are important questions to ask yourself.

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Can you help keep the bride organized?

jamie and michael wedding ceremony arch
Sally Pinera

We suggest keeping a maid-of-honor notebook with you during the planning process to ensure that you're organized for the bride's sake. She's most likely going to ask you to help address invitations, pick up favors, and make the seating chart. Lists will keep your thoughts in order—plus, she'll appreciate you making note of specifics, like addresses and who has a plus one. If she gets carried away and treats you like her employee, be kind but firm and tell her how much time you can realistically offer.

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Are you in charge of planning the bachelorette party?

bridal shower guests wearing pink
Mariel Hannah Photography

Planning the bachelorette party is one of the biggest maid-of-honor responsibilities you'll face throughout this process. Again, prioritize what the bride has always envisioned for this trip or staycation—not what you or anyone else wants. Is she the Vegas weekender or spa day type? Your choice should 100% reflect her tastes. Once you've got the where and when logistics settled, make sure all attendees are chipping in financially and that everyone is on their best behavior. Be warned that traveling with a group can often result in drama. Make sure any awkward situations are contained and off the bride's radar.

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Who is in charge of the bride's bouquet on the big day?

shelby preston wedding bouquet
Jake and Heather Photography

This one's easy: The bride will hand her arrangement off to you when she reaches the altar and stands next to the groom. When the vows are done, and she's ready to walk back down the aisle, be ready to hand the bouquet back to her for the exit.

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How should you go about writing your speech?

Guests Clinking Champagne Flutes During Toast
Blush Wedding Photography

The best speeches feature a combination of charm, wit, and sincerity—all sentiments that are hard to come up with on the spot. Start writing your maid-of-honor speech at least a month in advance so you have time to practice and make adjustments. It's okay to incorporate a funny anecdote about her that's entertaining, but not embarrassing—just make sure you say a few words about why the bride and her spouse are special before wishing them well in their future. After you've come up with a draft, time yourself to see how long the toast is (one or two minutes is a good duration).

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Who assists the bride in the bathroom?

miya matthew wedding bridesmaids
Clary Pfeiffer Photography

As maid of honor, it's up to you to assist behind-the-scenes when the bride needs to use the bathroom. Her delicate wedding gown can make this task difficult, so be prepared to help your friend navigate a toilet stall while holding up her skirt at the ceremony or reception.

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