Image courtesy of Clare Graham Photography
Been asked to be a maid of honour?
Lucky you, what a privilege! However… in amongst the excitement you’re probably feeling, you might also be feeling a little daunted if you’re not sure what you’ll have to do. This blog from the team at Baddow Park House covers what may be expected of you and everything a maid of honour needs to know…
A Little History
You might think the idea of having your besties as part of your wedding day is a new one, but it actually goes way, waaaay back.
In Roman times, people would enlist 10 witnesses to attend their wedding, each dressed as the bride or groom to confuse evil spirits who might wish bad luck on the newlyweds. Guests that double up as mortal saviours – now there’s a gift you can’t beat.
And the term ‘maid of honour’ comes from the monarchy. Back in the Middle Ages, Queens had several ‘maids of honour’ who came to court to keep them company, attend events and help with official duties. Queen Anne Boleyn had a total of 60 maids of honour! It became customary for brides to follow suit on their wedding days.
Maids were also used to carry herbs, garlic and grains – primarily to ward off evil (yes, the magic of weddings was much more about evil demons than romance). The herbs were also helpful to cover up the..er… ‘aroma’ of the wedding party since bathing was a rare occasion!
The Modern Maid Of Honour
You’ll be relieved to hear that modern maid of honour duties involve much less warding off evil, and much more pampering and fun.
Today, the expectations and responsibilities are less formalised and tend to be set by the bride. And it’s down to personal preference.
Traditionally, there was one maid of honour, or ‘matron of honour’, if said person was married. But these days, many couples are choosing more than one Maid of Honour or even a ‘man of honour’ or Best Men.
Your role as maid or matron of honour may start right from the get-go. Some brides will ask you to be heavily involved in the wedding plans and coordinate the efforts and responsibilities of the bridesmaids.
Image courtesy of Clare Graham Photography
For some brides, the dress is the most vital bit to get right. So having a trusted accomplice for dress choosing is of utmost importance. As MoH, you might be asked to accompany the bride to wedding dress boutiques on the quest for the perfect dress.
Your feedback and support on this matter can make all the difference. So be honest but very careful about your responses. You could even take some time beforehand to consider appropriate answers to questions like “does this make me look short?” or “do you think my chest is too flat for a dress like this?”
Think about how you can help reduce the demands on the bride. For example, taking the initiative to look up local dress shops and even calling in advance to arrange appointments. This ensures the bride will get the level of time and attention they deserve in each shop.
Not all brides wear dresses. So the same guidance applies if you’re looking for a suit for the bride or a more unique outfit for a unique person.
Dressing The Maids
As maid of honour, you’ll likely have a hand in helping select the bridesmaid dresses. Traditionally, brides would have paid for the bridesmaid and maid of honour dresses, but etiquette around the dresses has changed, and there really is no standard any more. If the bridesmaids are contributing or paying for their own dresses, they may be more inclined to choose themselves or have more input in the styling. Some brides prefer the bridesmaids and maid of honour to wear matching dresses, while others might prefer coordinated dresses that are more personalised to suit the wearers. Or even totally unique and uncoordinated dresses.
Regardless of the preferred styling, as maid of honour, it’s likely that your opinion and contribution will be appreciated. It’s ultimately the bride’s decision, and it might be your job to work as a mediator and diplomat between the bridesmaids and bride to keep things running smoothly. Ensuring that all parties feel heard and listened to… and hopefully satisfied with the outcome!
Probably the biggest responsibility of a maid of honour is arranging the hen night. The bride may have strong ideas, and that’s really helpful. But if it’s left to you to plan a surprise, it can feel like a lot to take on single-handedly.
Think about this well in advance so that you have plenty of time for planning. You know your friend, so you’ll know whether you should ask the bride outright what they would like or if they want a surprise.
When it comes to arranging a date, it’s best to offer everyone two or three dates that work for you and the bride. This makes it a lot easier to narrow down a weekend that suits everyone.
The last thing to be mindful of is everyone’s budget. There isn’t much point in booking a fabulous week away in Barbados if your friends don’t have the funds.
Planning a wedding is stressful. Yes, it’s fun and certainly worth it, but you can’t deny that trying to organise a large volume of people has its strains.
Then there’s the expectation on you to listen to the bride’s woes of delayed RSVPs, stresses about flowers out of season or how aunty Violet is INSISTING on sitting on the top table. All of that empathising and sympathising can be exhausting!
You might feel like it’s becoming an unpaid, part-time job or even taking over your life. So it’s important to have great communication with the bride. Make sure that not only are you supporting the bride but that you’re getting the support you need too.
Ideas And Action
As maid of honour, you’re a sounding board. From start to finish, you’re there to discuss ideas, browse and put together Pinterest boards, peruse magazines and check out the Insta wedding pics for inspiration. Talk through menus, venues, dresses, guests and DJs. But you won’t just be called upon for ideas… you’re also likely to be needed for some kind of physical help too.
Weddings nowadays have many unique features, from hand-tied flowers for the tables to creative and personalised wedding favours. Your bride might have some big ideas, and they’ll want your help to make it happen.
The bride may ask you to make a speech. Either during the ceremony or at the reception. It’s worth checking with the bride, when and where you will be making your speech. The traditional wedding speech order usually begins with the father of the bride, followed by the groom, the best man and then other toasts.
It can also be helpful to talk to the other people who are making speeches and toasts and talk through ideas of what to say and what not to say.
The Honour Of Being A Maid Of Honour
When somebody you love and deeply respect has asked you to be their maid of honour, you can feel a range of emotions. It is undeniably an incredible honour. But it’s also lots of responsibility.
The whole process of organising and being an integral part of a wedding is a special and unforgettable journey. And certainly, a one-of-a-kind experience to share with somebody who you’re close to.
But as with any big role and responsibility, the more prepared you can be, the less anxious you will feel and the more you will enjoy the adventure!
We hope this blog has helped you with advice and ideas of what you might expect as maid of honour, and we wish you the very best of luck in arranging a magical wedding with your bride!
For more wedding planning tips, read our blog and see our website to have a look at our Baddow Park House brochure.
Fleur & Andy
Kirstie and Andy
We want to thank you sincerely for making our wedding day so special. Everyone thought the organisation was excellent and everything went so smoothly. Baddow Park is a beautiful place to hold an intimate wedding, the house and the gardens are just delightful. Everyone there said what a lovely venue it was. We had the most beautiful wedding and we are very grateful.
Mrs & Mrs B
Nick & Lorna Bastian
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