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The Ultimate Guide to Being and Having a Maid of Honor

What is a Maid of Honor?

The formal definition of maid of honor, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a bride’s principal unmarried wedding attendant.” Wow, how cold that sounds. While this definition is not entirely incorrect, the role is so much more than attending to the bride. The woman a bride picks as her maid of honor is her closest friend and confidant, a person she trusts and loves. Being a maid of honor is the best gift a woman can bestow on her best friends.

Also, the modern way to define a maid of honor is much more ambiguous. Oftentimes, a sister or cousin is selected to be a bride’s maid of honor. But if a bride does not have any sisters or female cousins, or at least not any she is close to, a best friend is the perfect person to fill this role. Younger sisters — who may not be able to handle the many responsibilities of being a maid of honor — can still be part of the wedding in other ways, for example as junior bridesmaids.

The difference between a maid of honor versus a matron of honor lies in the marriage status of the lady in question. While traditionally you would have to choose between a maid or matron, feel free to have both if you just can’t decide!

When selecting a maid of honor, think about who you can’t imagine saying “I do” without. Who has been with you through the ups and downs of life? Who will stick by your side as you move on to a new stage of life, a happily ever after with your groom? The truth is, you don’t need to head to wiki to figure out the phenomenon that is a maid of honor. From proposals to gifts to gowns to speeches, we’ve got you covered on all things maid of honor!

Will You Be My Maid of Honor?

After you say yes to the man of your dreams, you have to make a proposal of your own. At some point, you will need to ask your bridesmaids and maid of honor to join your bridal party, so you mind as well make it amazing! Go big, get creative, take this opportunity to show the leading ladies in your life how special they are to you. Make her blush, make her cry, and let the feelings of sisterly love flow! Remember that cheesy poems and good quotes are always a good place to start. Take pictures to commemorate the sweet moment your maid of honor accepted your engagement offer… for her to be very engaged in your wedding! Check out our article 5 Cute Ways to Ask Your Friends to be Your Bridesmaids for more tips and ideas.

Maid of Honor Duties

The many duties and responsibilities of a maid of honor extend throughout the timeline of a wedding. The job begins as soon as a bride does the asking and doesn’t end until after the wedding day. Not only is the maid of honor an excited friend, she must take on the role of planner, leader, and counselor. During the preparations for a wedding, the maid of honor is called upon to:

  • Go shopping for dresses (the bride’s and the bridesmaids’)
  • Spread the news about the registry
  • Plan the bachelorette party
  • Host the bridal shower
  • Attend other pre-wedding parties (engagement, rehearsal, etc.)
  • Record all gifts received
  • Assist with general wedding preparations

During the wedding day festivities, the maid of honor is responsible to:

  • Stick by the bride’s side
  • Make sure the bride looks her best
  • Hold the groom’s ring
  • Hold the bride’s bouquet
  • Make sure the bride eats
  • Give a toast to the couple
  • Sign the marriage certificate

Our article The Ultimate Checklist for the Anxious Maid of Honor can help to guide you through the timeline of a maid of honor’s duties and responsibilities — it includes a printable checklist!

The Infamous Maid of Honor Speech: Types of Maid of Honor Speeches

Some maid of honors are honored and excited to give a speech at the wedding — others shiver at the thought of it. No matter where you lie on this spectrum, you will be called upon to give a toast of some sort to the bride and groom. Take advantage of this moment to celebrate two people that you love!

If you are in need of ideas, consider the various types of maid of honor speeches. Your speech can be informative — providing the couple with tips for marriage — educational — explaining the history, law, and justice aspects of marriage — funny — bringing the crowd to laughter with funny jokes and hilarious stories — sentimental — professing love for the couple and wishing them well in their next stage of life and more! A mixture of these types of speeches would be the best option — strive to get the couple to blush, cry, laugh or all three.

Sample a couple types of toasts — test out quotes and poems and jokes on a sibling, roommate or significant other if you are unsure. Set a soundtrack in the background for added interest. Know your bride and know your audience, a select the styles of speeches that you think they will enjoy hearing and you will enjoy giving!

Maid of Honor Speech Examples: The Best Maid of Honor Speeches

For some inspiration, check out a couple examples of some really great maid of honor speeches. These are just samples, giving you a taste of what is possible and showing you that giving a maid of honor speech can be fun! To save you from an online hunt, we’ve compiled some of the best maid of honor speeches ever!

Musical Maid of Honor Speech

Toast, Roast and Boast Maid of Honor Speech

Throwback Maid of Honor Speech

Sweet and Heartfelt Maid of Honor Speech

It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect maid of honor speech. There is no book to define what a MOH is and how it should be achieved. While resources like our article Write a Killer Maid of Honor or Best Man Speech in 7 Easy Steps help to outline the process, your writing will have to be from the heart. Just remember that the bride and groom will greatly appreciate everything you say.

Maid of Honor Dresses

A maid of honor dress can be exactly like the other maids. But you can also give your special lady a little more special look on your wedding day — perhaps through a different silhouette, length, color, jewelry, shoes, or hairstyle.

If you’re interested in mixed colors, do so with the bridesmaids wearing one hue and the maid of honor wearing another. While your male friends may suggest a camo look, solid colors will establish a consistency despite your use of multiple colors. Here are a few color combinations that will look beautiful for your maid of honor and bridesmaids dresses:

  • teal and burgundy
  • orange and yellow
  • gray and silver
  • navy and coral
  • blue and lavender
  • green and gold
  • pink and red
  • black and ivory
  • merlot wine and brown
  • light fuschia and purple
  • turquoise and tan
  • lime and white

For the actual style of dress, consider these options. Stay away from anything overly sexy or revealing. Remember that you are the queen of the day — don’t force your bridal party into something ugly, but also don’t let them outshine you! As a general rule of thumb, try to mimic the styles and themes of your wedding for your maid of honor’s dress.


Staying inside the traditional wedding box need not be boring! The only template for traditional maid of honor dresses is that they incorporate solid colors and classic silhouettes. Otherwise, you still have freedom to find a gown for your maid of honor that suits both your wedding and her eye!

traditional maid of honor dress

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Templates go out the window with beachy maid of honor gowns. Short, medium or long. Flowy like a robe or structured like a pantsuit. The world is your oyster (and yes that was a shameless beach reference)! Keep the hot weather in mind so that your maid of honor can fully enjoy your big day.

beachy maid of honor dress

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Maybe you want your bridal cast to wear something that throws it back to the good days. Vintage dresses are unique and beautiful, and something your maid of honor will want to wear long after your wedding day. Older sometimes is better (and more beautiful)! To stay true to the vintage style, have the dress homemade by an older relative to ensure that it fits your maid of honor to the t.

vintage maid of honor dress

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‘Want your maid of honor to look like Pippa Middleton at the royal wedding? Or maybe like a spanish princess or fine irish lady? You don’t have to fly to the UK to get this look! Dress it up with Tiffany diamonds or make it more casual with footwear and hair. With the long sleeves and full skirt elevate this dress to royalty, this dress escaped the simple tee top and traded it in for something more elegant and in a league of its own. While this style will suit a winter or fall wedding, you may want to consider a shorter or thinner style.

maid of honor long sleeve dress

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The nice thing about finding a maid of honor dress is that you only have to consider the body type of one person, rather than your entire bridal party. If your maid of honor will be pregnant at your wedding, consider a dress like the one below. Depending on where she carries her weight, this dress might also cater to plus size maid of honors.

maid of honor maternity dress

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Maid of Honor Gifts

Your maid of honor’s checklist of duties is long. All of these responsibilities require time, effort, money, and lots of love for you! As probably your closest and best friend, she wouldn’t dream of any one else filling this role. While she will love standing beside you from the bridal shower to the rehearsal dinner to the wedding day, show her that you appreciate her efforts! A gift for your maid of honor need not be expensive or elegant — you can keep it cheap but go for something unique and thoughtful. You can give her this gift immediately after you ask her to fill this honored role in your wedding, or you can save it for the day of the wedding to recognize all her efforts and celebrate the end of her duties!

There is no established etiquette for maid of honor gifts — they are not required and there are no steps you are supposed to take. This gift could range from personalized apparel to a homemade card. The difference between apparel vs cards has less to do with money and more to do with the thought behind it. Thank your maid of honor for all her hard work with gifts similar to these examples:

Gold Maid of Honor Bracelet

maid of honor gifts

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Maid of Honor Tote Bag

maid of honor gifts

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Maid of Honor Frame

maid of honor gifts

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Maid of Honor Mug

maid of honor mug

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Maid of Honor Shirt

maid of honor shirt

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Maid of Honor Movie List

Be sure to take time amidst the wedding chaos and give your maid of honor a break from her responsibilities. While gifts are nice, also bless her with the gift of your presence! Kicking back and relaxing every now and again is the key to maintaining friendship and sanity during the craziness that is wedding preparations. One way to start the practice of scheduled relaxation is to plan movie nights! You could invite the other bridesmaids for some of these nights, but try to set aside at least one night for just you and your maid of honor. While each and every bridesmaid is important, your maid of honor is an extra special member of your wedding and your life — so be intentional about spending time together.

Here’s a list of movies to get your movie night started (be sure to supplement these movies with snacks):

  • Father of the Bride (1991)
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
  • Bridesmaids (2001)
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
  • The Wedding Date (2005)
  • Wedding Crashers (2005)
  • Wedding Daze (2006)
  • 27 Dresses (2008)
  • Bride Wars (2009)
  • The Proposal (2009)
  • The Wedding Pact (2014)
  • The Wedding Ringer (2015)


Being and having a maid of honor is about so much more than hairstyles, shirts, dresses, and responsibilities. It is about friendship and love… which just happens to be exemplified through duty and responsibility! The “maid of honor” label is less important than all the time, effort and care that it represents. Cherish your maid of honor and the times spent together during your wedding and beyond!

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