Bridesmaid and Maid of Honor Etiquette


I’ve had the genuine pleasure of standing beside my girlfriends on their big day, just as they loyally stood beside me when I tied the knot. I fondly remember all of the merriment leading up to each of our nuptials – gorgeous bridal showers, laughter-filled bachelorette weekends, lunches where we swooned over the planning details – and of course excitedly watching as we each exchanged vows with our husbands on our wedding days. Such special memories I will always cherish! This coveted role of bridesmaid or maid of honor often includes a touch of flowing chiffon and attempt at catching the bouquet, however it really is so much more – it’s a true honor! Having been a bridesmaid in several weddings now, I have learned a great deal (and made some mistakes, event etiquette experts aren’t perfect!) about bridesmaid etiquette and what proper protocol entails. In case you’ve recently been asked to be a bridesmaid or maid of honor, you’re a blushing bride yourself and looking to learn a little, or are anticipating weddings down the road, here are my answers to various bridesmaid scenarios so you can be a supportive, loving, and fabulous member of the wedding party. Enjoy!


You’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid and accept!

Thank the bride for the incredible privilege of being a part of her wedding, and let her know how excited you are! Consider offering to take her to lunch or dinner  (perhaps with the other bridesmaids) to chat about the wedding, and celebrate this wonderful occasion.

You’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid and can’t afford it…

Being in a wedding is expensive, and sometimes it doesn’t fit within one’s budget. If you find yourself in this situation and you need to decline an invitation to be a bridesmaid, get together with the bride (lunch, coffee, etc.), and first thank her for including you in her wedding party, and second explain your financial constraints. She may be disappointed, however ultimately she will understand. Be sure to focus on how you will be at the wedding, and offer to help with planning leading up to the big day.

You’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid and need to decline at the last minute…

The only acceptable reasons to decline being a bridesmaid are family emergencies, medical emergencies, and unavoidable work obligations. These unfortunate and unexpected happenings are horrible for everyone, and if this happens to you (I hope it never does!), let the bride know ASAP about your situation, and how devastated you are that you won’t be able to be a part of her wedding. Again, expect her to be disappointed but she will ultimately understand. Once you’re able to, consider getting together with her after the honeymoon to catch up, hear all about the nuptials, and life as a Mrs.

You’ve been asked to be in the house party. What is that?

A southern tradition, the house party is essentially an extension of the bridesmaids. Often the house party helps with various wedding day duties, such as manning the guest book, handing out programs, or performing a reading during the ceremony. Additionally, ladies in the house party still attend all showers, the bachelorette party, wear a special dress (usually similar to the bridesmaids), and sit behind the family during the wedding.

You weren’t asked to be a bridesmaid or MOH and are feeling left out…

I know this scenario is upsetting, however truly try to look at it from the bride’s perspective and strive to be supportive and positive. Perhaps she has oodles of family that need to be her bridesmaids? Or Perhaps she could only pick a couple of girls and since you live out-of-town, she chose those who are local? The most important thing is to not confront her about it, and not complain, as this is her time to shine as blushing bride to be. Smile, celebrate her and the upcoming wedding, and be the great friend that you are!

Do you have to go on the bachelorette trip?

If possible (you’re able to take time off work and can afford it), it’s lovely to attend the bachelorette trip and share in the festive fun!

Do you have to give the bride a gift at her shower, or is planning the shower enough?

While planning the bridal shower is certainly a thoughtful and generous gesture, you need to give her a shower gift and wedding gift. As for the shower gift, consider surprising her with a large item off of her registry that you and the other bridesmaids can give together.

Quick Tips

Maid of Honor and Bridesmaid Duties


Maid of honor duties

Plan the bridal shower with the bridesmaids

Pay for own dress, heels, and accessories (*chosen by the bride)

Plan the bachelorette party

Attend all pre-wedding celebrations

Help the bride with any planning duties leading up to the wedding

Witness the bride and groom sign the marriage certificate

Hold the bride’s bouquet and groom’s ring during the ceremony

Give a speech at the wedding

Help the bride during the reception (i.e. rounding the troops for the bouquet toss, encouraging guests to dance, etc.)



Bridesmaid duties

Plan the bridal shower with the maid of honor and fellow bridesmaids

Pay for own dress, heels, and accessories (*chosen by the bride)

Attend all pre-wedding celebrations

Help the bride with any planning duties leading up to the wedding

Help the maid of honor and bride during the reception

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