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Perhaps there is an obvious choice for your maid of honour but before you make that final decision and ask her, you should probably be aware of what it is you are asking her to do. The maid of honour's duties are more complex than wearing a nice dress and following you down the aisle.
Here are a few of the roles your maid of honour might be expected to play in the lead up to your wedding as well as on the day itself:
By far the most important duty your maid of honour will undertake in the run up to the wedding is to listen to you with patience and understanding whether you are ranting about the caterer letting you down or wavering over which china pattern to choose. No matter how many times you cover the same ground she should be there to reassure you that all will be ok and to offer advice when appropriate.
Wedding planning is an emotional time and for many brides; the slightest hiccup can have them in floods of tears, or send them into a fierce rage. Your maid of honour should have the capacity to cheer you up or calm you down, and their most valuable quality will be to make you laugh. Laughter is the perfect antidote to wedding stress.
Your maid of honour will be responsible for any other bridesmaids you have, and it is her job to make sure they get to their dress fittings, that they all have the right accessories and bouquets, and that they arrive at the rehearsal and the wedding itself on time. Although the other bridesmaids may have a hand in organising and hosting the bridal shower and hen party, ultimately the buck stops with the maid of honour.
In the next section we will look at many of the pre wedding tasks that the maid of honour might help out with, but in fact she can delegate many of these to her troop of bridesmaids.
As the bride you may be full of great ideas about how things should be done, but it will often be the maid of honour that turns your ideas into positive actions. If possible the maid of honour should be present on all shopping excursions, both for the bride's wedding gown and for the bridesmaids' outfits. She will often get involved in designing table centres or hand tying favours, and she is often called on to address and send your wedding invitations.
Unless you are including a registry card in your invites, your maid of honour will play a part in telling guests where you are registered, and she will be responsible for keeping track of any gifts given during bridal showers or hen parties so that the bride can write thank you notes at a later date. Simple but significant tasks such as picking up the wedding cake can be delegated to the maid of honour; the bride probably wouldn't trust anybody else with such an important task.
On the wedding day itself the maid of honour will play an invaluable role in supporting the bride. The maid of honour often spends the night before the wedding with the bride and helps her to get ready for the ceremony. She may be asked to co-ordinate with the hair and make up artists as well as the bridesmaids, the father of the bride, and the wedding car chauffeur, to be sure everything runs smoothly.
The maid of honour will either precede or follow the bride down the aisle and will stand at the altar during the ceremony, possibly holding the bridal bouquet during the vows. She is responsible for the groom's ring which she may take from the page boy. Once the ceremony is over she will sign the wedding register as a witness to the marriage.
During the reception the maid of honour should make sure the bride continues to look immaculate, and should let her know if her make up gets smudged or her hair gets messed up. The maid of honour should also make sure the bride takes time to eat something, collecting a plate of food for her if necessary. Keeping the bride supplied with non alcoholic drinks is also an important job, particularly on a hot day.
Finally the maid of honour should help the bride change out of her gown and may be responsible for transporting and storing the gown until the bride returns from honeymoon.