When you are planning your wedding there are literally 75,000 decisions you will need to make. Ok, these may not be the actual statistics, but it certainly is a lot. And just one of those decisions is your maid of honour. But what is a maid of honour anyway?
Traditionally, the maid or matron of honour is your BFF or right-hand girl at your wedding. She is one of your bridesmaids but with the elevated status. This brings with it extra special responsibilities including organising your hen’s night or bridal shower, holding your flowers during the ceremony and signing the marriage certificate as an official witness.
It is indeed a position of great honour, signifying to the world that she is the closest to you, and the one you want most to stand up beside you during some of the most important moments of your life.
She will share in your laughter and tears, your stress and difficult choices big and small. She may need to be on hand with endless supplies of bridal magazines, wine or tea.
It is a big decision for a very big job.
Let’s look a bit more into the history and tradition of it – what is a Maid of Honour?
(photo supplied by Bridal Bling Bride Ashley Dixon: Photo by James Day)
Bridesmaids were originally a group of girls who dressed like the bride and accompanied her on the way to the wedding to reduce the risk the bride would get robbed.
This ‘decoy brides’ concept sounds bizarre, and fortunately has evolved into something quite different and slightly less dangerous. The number of bridesmaids used to be an indication of the family’s wealth and status.
Bridesmaids used to be women of marriageable age who attended to the bride on the wedding day. The chief bridesmaid was called the Maid of Honour if she was unmarried, or Matron of Honour if she was already married.
The term Maid of Honour is actually an official royal court title which has nothing to do with weddings. The Maids of Honour were junior attendants to a queen, the junior equivalents to ladies-in-waiting. In modern times the Queen only really has them for her coronation day, but they act in a role very similar to in a wedding.
A maid of honour is sometimes called the matron of honour if she is married. Of course, her marital status in modern times is less relevant in pretty much everything in life, so you no longer need to use the title Matron for your head girl at your wedding, whether she is married or not.
These are honorary titles only, and you can mix up the titles as well as their specific roles as much as you like.
Absolutely, not! There are no have to’s in modern weddings; it is all about celebrating your personal love story and you can do virtually anything you like.
Some brides will have bridesmaids but no maid of honour because of the difficulty of singling out just one friend. Others will have no bridal party at all. You can also, of course, have a Man of Honour if your BFF is male.
Anything goes in weddings today; the main thing to remember is to do what makes you happy. Having a maid of honour should be a special title granted on a special person. Don’t force yourself to have one if traditional is just not your style.
(photo supplied by Bridal Bling Bride Jaymie-Lee Bray; Photo by Bazland Image)
Some brides will need to listen to family requests with this one, and have their sister, sister in law or closest cousin as their maid of honour. If you have the freedom to choose anyone at all, here are some good guidelines to follow:
Choose someone who will make your life easier rather than harder at this time. This important woman is supposed to support you through stress as well as joy, so pick someone whose opinion you value and who you like having around.
Choose someone honest and who gets you without you having to explain yourself in detail. An intuitive maid of honour is a rare gift to be treasured.
Work out yourself how many roles you would like her to take on, and when you ask her to be your maid of honour, let her know how much work is involved (as well as what it might cost her financially).
It is an honour, but also a big ask, so your friends should be able to turn you down reasonably. You could also have two and split up some of the duties.
Consider family and friends and their feelings in your choice, but in the end, the best advice is to just go with your gut.
Because this incomparable person is taking on such a mammoth role for you, make sure that you thank her appropriately. Gifts for your bridal party are customary as well as thoughtful, but you might want to put some extra consideration into a gift for your right-hand girl.
We especially love this robe with her title embroidered on it, great for the big day itself and wonderful for lazy Sunday mornings for years to come:
Something smaller, but endlessly useful and so elegant is this personalised makeup bag
This lovely vintage look keyring with your own personalised message is sweet and versatile:
For the non-traditional maid of honour, we love these hip flasks:
As always with your wedding, do what feels most comfortable for you. Choose the right person to be behind you as you marry the love of your life. And have fun!