Help! I’m the Maid of Honour!

Image of woman panicking with the title "Help! I'm the Best Maid of Honour" for information about preparing a maid of honour's speech and other things

Being chosen as the maid of honour for a friend’s wedding is one of those great roles people long for. But what, exactly is expected? And with the changing nature of weddings, do you have to deliver a maid of honour’s speech? Here’s a quick guide to get you started.

The role

First and foremost, a maid of honour should remember that she is there to support the person who invited her to take on the role. If that person says no hen’s night, there will be no hen’s night. If that person is stuggling to zip up her dress, you should be ready to help. If that person wants to wear a hot pink pantsuit, you may have to wear one too, help them find the hot pink pantsuit, or stage an intervention. Or possibly all three!

However it plays out, if you’re focused on helping, you’ll do well.

Task list

Now, the term maid of honour is slightly in decline, and even the customs around what she does are not set in stone. There is certainly no reason why this role cannot be undertaken by a man, and even a female maid of honour could be there to support a groom!

Whatever the context, the list below is a random collection of things maids of honour over the years have taken on. In twenty-first century weddings, no task should simply be assumed: always speak with the couple about what they expect, and follow their lead.

In order of the most common roles that fall to a maid of honour to the least, here it is:

  • Get the bride ready for the ceremony
  • Help the bride select her outfit, and those of the bridesmaids
  • Witness the bride’s signature on the marriage certificates
  • Help with wedding planning and act as a point of contact for suppliers on the day
  • Help with DIY projects
  • Join the first dance with the Best Man
  • Organise a hen’s party
  • Help with outfit planning for the groom and his attendants
  • Collect cards and gifts from guests

Maid of Honour’s speech

It has not been a long-standing tradition for maids of honour to deliver a speech, but it is certainly becoming more common. The role could be done in conjunction with a best man, or a maid of honour could deliver it independently.

So if you dont know where to start, the most important thing to do is start early!

A simple approach is to follow this pattern:

  1. Talk about the person who asked you to be their maid of honour, and why they matter to you
  2. Talk about the person they’re marrying and why you support the marriage
  3. Wish them well.

If that sounds too simple, get started and you’ll quickly realise only the third point is easy! But also remember that if public speaking is a challenge for you, one paragraph on each of those points is enough. If your maid of honour’s speech is two minutes of heartfelt congratulations, it will be perfect.

If you are more comfortable with public speaking, I would encourage you to have a look at my post about humour in wedding speeches. It is focused on queer weddings but very relevant for straight weddings too.

Most importantly

Have fun. If youre not having fun, the bride is probably not having fun either, and as their primary support person, its your role to change that. And keep in mind that this may mean supporting their partner as well!

There is no right or wrong way to be the maid of honour, there’s just your way. Be yourself and stay focused on making bride’s day special.

Published by Trevar Alan Skillicorn-Chilver

Trevar Alan Skillicorn-Chilver is an authorised celebrant, a playwright, a teacher and quite a few other things!

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