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Maid of Honor: Her Duties in Detail

Help! What do you do as the maid of honor? Don't worry, we've got your job description down to a science.

Photo: Karlisch Photography

The maid/matron of honor is part worker bee, part emotional lifeboat. Chosen for your energetic, get-the-ball-in-motion qualities, you should also remember that listening to the bride, making her laugh, and offering emotional and logistical support are also part of your honor attendant package. Here's what's expected:

  • Lead the bridesmaid troupe. It's the maid/matron of honor's (MOH) job to direct the other maids through their duties. Make sure everyone gets their bridesmaid dresses, go to dress fittings, and find the right jewelry. Also provide them with the 411 on all prewedding parties.

  • Help shop for dresses (the bride's and the bridesmaids'). And the MOH pays for her own entire wedding outfit (including shoes).

  • Offer to help the bride with prewedding tasks, from addressing invites to choosing the wedding colors and nodding enthusiastically when she waxes poetic about wedding cake.

  • Spread the news about where the bride and groom are registered.

  • Help the bride change for her honeymoon and take charge of her gown after the ceremony. Arrange for storage in a safe place until she returns.

  • Lend an ear. Whether it's about the planning, the marriage, or the registry china patterns, the MOH should assure the bride that she has someone with whom she can share her thoughts. Even if she seems to dwell on the same subjects repeatedly, the MOH keeps listening.

  • Host or cohost a bridal shower for the bride.

  • Attend all prewedding parties.

  • Keep a record of all the gifts received at various parties and showers (or delegate a bridesmaid to handle this).

  • Plan the bachelorette party with the bridesmaids.

  • See to it that all bridesmaids get to the rehearsal; coordinate transportation and lodging, if necessary.

  • Make sure that all bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, get to the ceremony on time, and have the correct bouquets.

  • Hold the groom's ring during the ceremony. Safest place to put it? On your thumb.

  • Arrange the bride's train and veil before the ceremony begins and just after she arrives at the altar. The MOH might also need to help her bustle the train for easy dancing at the reception.

  • Hold the bride's bouquet while the couple exchanges vows.

  • Sign the marriage license as a witness, along with the best man.

  • Stand next to the groom in the receiving line (this is optional; the bride may decide to have attendants circulate among the guests instead).

  • Play hostess along with the other bridesmaids at frequent points during the reception: show guests where to sit, direct them to restrooms, tell them to where to put presents, invite them to sign the guest book, etc.

  • Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe place.

  • Make sure the bride takes a moment to eat something -- refresh her drink, get her a plate of food from the buffet table, or instruct the wait staff to keep her entree warm.

  • Dance with the best man during the formal first-dance sequence and possibly be announced with him at the beginning of the party. Also dance with other groomsmen, the groom, and others.

  • Toast the couple after the best man. (This is optional, but it is a nice touch.)

  • Troubleshoot emotional crises. In most cases, this will require lots of tissues, hugging, and hair-smoothing. The MOH continues to be a trusted friend, a good listener, and a smart advisor.

  • Keep the bride laughing. For the stressed-out bride, laughter can be as effective as venting.

-- Wendy Paris

See More: Your Bridal Party , Basics for Bridesmaids