What to Expect as the Maid of Honor: Responsibilities, Costs, and Timeline

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You’ve just accepted an invitation to be the maid of honor at a loved one’s wedding. What a privilege! If this is your first time as maid of honor, you may not know where to start. Do you plan the bachelorette party or bridal shower first? What kind of financial responsibilities are involved? Do you really have to give a speech?

There are no definite answers. Much of what you will be asked to do will depend on the bride and what she has envisioned for herself. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help prepare yourself for your all-important role and to help get the party started.

Maid of Honor Responsibilities

Your most important duty as the maid of honor is to help the bride with whatever she needs. This may include securing a place for the wedding or reception, helping to select a theme, arranging for the caterers, coordinating the invitations, or more.

Many of your duties will depend upon how involved the groom, the bride’s family, and other close friends are.

The maid of honor often accompanies the bride in her search for the wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses, attends her fittings with her, and may schedule hair consultations or any other beauty treatments leading up to the big day.

She is usually responsible for attending the engagement party, throwing the bridal shower, planning the bachelorette party; and, on the day of, attending to the bride, toasting the new couple, and perhaps helping to take presents and/or her dress home if they’re departing immediately on their honeymoon post-reception. 

Throughout the process, the maid of honor acts both as a liaison for the couple, letting guests know where the couple is registered, ensuring that guests know about available accommodations, etc, and as support for the bride. The key is to open yourself up for anything and be as supportive and active a participant as she needs you to be.

Costs you can expect

An extravagant affair can cost a maid of honor thousands, while a smaller event will generally run into the hundreds.

Major purchases may include:

Your Attire: The maid of honor dress can cost you as little as nothing if the bride decides she wants you in that fabulous little black number she knows you have in your closet.

On the flip-side, a bride may choose a couture dress that could easily cost $1,000 or more. She may also pick out the shoes or accessories she’d like you to wear on the big day as well. You probably know her tastes better than most, so it’s best to plan accordingly.

The Wedding Shower: Often, the maid of honor plans and hosts a wedding shower for the bride. Pricing will vary depending on the location, menu, decorations, games and prizes, as well the gift you’d like to give her.

A bridal shower hosted at home could cost between $10 and $15 per person, while a luncheon in a private room at a mid-range restaurant could range between $15 and $40 a plate. At the high-end of the scale, you may be spending up to $150 for each person in attendance.

Sometimes the bridesmaids or members of the bride and groom’s families may opt to co-host the shower with you or offer to handle different aspects of the event, such as decorations, food, or games which can help to alleviate some of the costs.

The Bachelorette Party: Like the wedding shower, the maid of honor normally takes the lead in planning and hosting the bachelorette party, however will not be solely responsible for the costs.

Each participant is expected to pay for themselves, with the bride’s costs split between the maid of honor and the bridesmaids.  Depending on the chosen activities and location, pricing for local events will be similar to the wedding shower, with most parties ranging between $15 and $150 per person.

If traveling, however, the costs could be much greater and the bride can opt to pay for her own travel and/or lodging, with the bridal party responsible for any planned activities upon arrival.

With destination bachelorette parties, it’s best to consult with the bride first if you and the bridesmaids won’t be able to afford her whole trip.

Discussing the details of these items with the bride should help you get a better idea of what she’s looking for, and, therefore, a better idea of what you can expect to spend. If you start saving now, you’ll be better prepared for the weeks or months ahead.

The Wedding Timeline

Along the way to the wedding, timing for each of the upcoming activities will be reliant upon the amount of time you have until the big day. But, generally, the timeline should look a little something like this:

– Attend the engagement party

– Help with any planning aspects such as securing venue(s) and vendors

– Select the dresses and attend fittings

– Host the wedding shower

– Throw the bachelorette party

– Attend the rehearsal

– Attend the wedding

The best way to coordinate events is work closely with the bride to schedule each one. With a calendar in hand, you two will have a better sense of timing for the activities and together can decide what day is most advantageous for each.

When and Where to Begin

Now that you’ve been picked as the maid of honor, it’s time to start getting these plans in motion. Begin by setting aside some time with the bride to brainstorm.

Reserving the locations for each of the events should be at the top of your list as popular hotspots are taken up quickly. Items to be ordered, such as the dresses, invitations, decorations, etc., should follow next.

By helping organize the details and keeping things under control, you will give the bride the breathing room she needs to enjoy this special time in her life.

Most importantly, remember to be the friend she knows you to be and support her through the ups and downs that are sure to come.

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Written by Steve Williams
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'.