Google+ Southern Etiquette: Maid and Matron of Honor - Southern Weddings

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We all know bridal parties are famously large in the South, and with the effort to squeeze out as many honorary positions as possible often comes dual roles: choosing both a maid AND matron of honor to stand by your side on the big day. Karen wrote us with a question about this potentially sticky situation:

Hello ladies!

One of my best friends is getting married this summer. She has asked her cousin to be matron of honor and has asked me to be maid of honor, and let me know that I would be very busy helping with things for the wedding because of my title. However, so far she has not spoken to me about any of the usual things a maid of honor would handle, and instead has spoken to her cousin. For example, she mentioned a wedding shower, and then said that she needed to talk to her cousin about more details. That was the first I had heard about the shower, which is fine, but I just don’t want both her cousin and I planning the same things. Can a maid and matron of honor share duties, or not? Another concern is that I’m in school, and so don’t have a lot of money to pay for events or activities, but still want to help in any way I can. All advice will be greatly appreciated!!

Karen, you are in good company! I think many maids and matrons of honor are confused about their duties even when they’re the only one in the role. And the tricky thing is, while there are general guidelines, every bride is a bit different in terms of what she expects or would like her honor attendants to do, which is a recipe for hurt feelings on both sides. So that’s my first piece of advice: Sit your friend down (virtually, if necessary!) and let her know that you’re honored to have been asked and look forward to celebrating this special time with her. Let her know that you’re more than happy to assist in any way you can, but that to do so well you would love for her to elaborate on what, exactly, she expects from you, as well as what her matron of honor will be taking care of. Hopefully that will start moving everyone toward being on the same page! If she’s comfortable putting you in touch with her cousin, that could be a great next step toward you two working together instead of around each other.

I also completely understand not being as financially able; the best thing to do is to be up front with your friend if she asks or asks something of you that you’re not capable of. And remember, joyful, thoughtful emotional support (and sometimes your donated time and labor!) is more priceless to a bride than expensive trips and gifts.

Jessica Lorren

In the meantime, for all those facing a maid or matron of honor position without prior experience, here’s our general guideline to typical duties:

Be willing to help in whatever way possible with wedding planning. If you live nearby, this could mean helping to address invitations or assemble programs. If you don’t, you might offer to set up vendor appointments or research florists.
Lend an ear during the engagement. Even the most cheerful bride will likely need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on at some point before her wedding. Weddings can be stressful — do what you can to alleviate that stress.
Help the bride select bridesmaids’ attire. Listen to and, if necessary, help squash, unreasonable grumblings from bridesmaids about said attire.
Make sure a shower and/or bachelorette are addressed. Make sure you ask the bride her wishes for these events, and then execute to the best of your ability with ample assistance from bridesmaids.
Organize bridesmaids’ gifts to the bride (if you’re giving one) and organize the bridesmaids’ luncheon (if you’re holding one). Brides sometimes like to host the luncheon themselves as a thank you to their ‘maids, so check with her before making plans.
Go into the wedding day over-prepared. More than any of the other ‘maids, it’s your responsibility to make sure you are aware of the timeline for the day, the order everyone will be walking down the aisle, where you’re taking portraits, etc. This way, the bride won’t be the only one fielding questions on her wedding morning, which can be very stressful.
Take control of the bride’s cell phone on the wedding morning. Of course, you’ll want to consult with the bride before you attempt to commandeer her phone, but setting up a sort of electronic forcefield around her while she’s getting ready means that only the truly important calls will get through.
Hold the groom’s wedding ring and the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony. Reposition her train if necessary.
Witness the signing of the marriage certificate.
Run interference. Between the bride and bridesmaids, between the bride and her mother-in-law, maybe even between her and the mother of the bride. Learn to be gracious, but firm. The skills of a diplomat are essential to successfully fulfilling this role.
Anticipate the bride’s needs. Make sure she eats something so her blood sugar doesn’t bottom out. If she has mentioned little things (having a bottle of champagne in the dressing area, wanting a through-the-door convo with her groom before the wedding, wanting a moment alone with her new husband just following the ceremony) execute her wishes to the best of your ability.
Bustle her gown post-ceremony. If you live nearby, it could be helpful to attend the final fitting so you can learn the ropes — er, buttons and snaps — before the big day.
–- Help the bride change into her going-away clothes and take care of the bride’s wedding dress and accessories after the reception.

Anything to add, ladies? Have you ever been a co maid or matron of honor? How did it go?

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    One thing my sister (MOH) did that helped me SO much was come up with a list of bags to pack and help me pack them for the wedding day. We had a bag for getting ready (that included toiletries, makeup, etc) , a bag for the church (that included undergarments for dress, wedding shoes, lipstick, etc), a bag for the reception (change of clothes, change of shoes), and finally the honeymoon bag. She put herself in charge of making sure all the bags got transported to the proper location and that everything was there that I needed. It was SO helpful!

  2. avatar Kate Collison reply

    As a bride with a middle-sized bridal party and multiple MOHs, I have been very lucky in that my special-est gals have simply agreed to get along wonderfully and share responsibilities. They deserve a lot of credit for their own behavior and decisions, especially taking this all on without knowing one another previously. I think they felt daunted at first, but really, it’s worked out so nicely, and they are now friends. I came to this decision because I am equally close with these women, but they don’t have exactly the same strengths and weaknesses. Where one may not feel as comfortable, the other steps in. I talked with them initially about what I hoped for in the planning process, what I expected of their roles, and asked if they had concerns about sharing duties. I make sure to be grateful to each for her lovely attention and help — communication has been SO key. My big day is coming up (June 8th) and I plan to ask each to help with one thing. One with the bustle, one with the veil, etc, so that my MOHs feel dutiful and helpful. I would advise brides to choose MOH’s wisely, however, because much of the success of this is choosing young ladies who are close to you, but who are also going to get along even under stress. Make sure to thank them well (as we always should, no?) and in your own, heartfelt way. I am a perpetual note-writer and I have written each gal individual thank you notes for EVERY STEP of their involvement – wedding dress shopping, planning and attending the bachelorette, attending and helping at my shower, for an active listening ear when wedding-stress hits… I think because my women have chosen to get along and I have made time in my process to genuinely tell and show them how happy I am makes our arrangement much brighter!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    I just got home from my very best friend’s wedding, that I was the maid of honor in, and this list is spot on! I took a lot of pride in my role and really wanted to make sure this day was perfect for the bride, and I think it was! I think the most important part is to just communicate with the bride as much as possible.

  4. avatar southern etiquette. | "Tide the Knot" reply

    [...] Alright ladies, in most situations there is a Maid of Honor or a Matron of Honor, and in many cases you will have both! The only difference, contrary to what some believe, is that the Maid of Honor is an unwed bridesmaid and the Matron of Honor is in fact married. Both of these titles are considered the “principal bridesmaids”, these ladies will be your go to girls for the duration of the day. Now, who does what? Let us break it down shall we. Both the Maid and Matron should be there for the Bride right from the get go, this is not a job for the lazy that’s for sure! She should be able to help with the wedding planning in whatever way possible. Lend an ear during the engagement, this is important for the Bride, considering she will be under a certain amount of stress during the process of planning. So grab that bottle of wine and help her exercise her demons!  Make sure that there is a bridal shower/bachelorette party in the plans. Organize the bridesmaids gifts, and the bridal luncheon. Take full control of the brides cell phone on the day of, that thing will be blowing up, and you don’t want it to stress the Bride out. Anticipate the Brides needs, and run interference between the Bride and others. These are only a few helpful hints, you can view a whole gaggle of  pointers on the Southern Weddings page @ [...]

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    [...] Pink Bridesmaids Cardigan captured by Jessica Lorren via Southern Weddings [...]

  6. avatar Annemarie reply

    I need to fine out if a maid of honor is foe who not been married yet? Them what is the matron of honor who been married but still call be the maid of honor too? I need to fine out this? I’m getting married in April 2015 . We r going to Hawaii to get married too. Please help me out please. Thank you


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    […] Southern Etiquette: Maid and Matron of Honor – Southern … – Jessica Lorren In the meantime, for all those facing a maid or matron of honor position without prior experience, here’s our general guideline to typical duties: […]

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