Maid of Honor vs. Bridesmaids: What’s the Difference?

Maid of Honor vs. Bridesmaids: What’s the Difference?

Planning a wedding requires you to make a lot of choices. You need to decide on a venue, decorations, food, the guest list, and countless other details. A support system helps you take care of all of this without feeling too stressed so you can enjoy the time leading up to your wedding. This is why having a Maid of Honor and bridesmaids is so important. But what’s the difference between the two titles? In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • The reason for bridal parties
  • Who the Maid of Honor is
  • Who the bridesmaids are
  • How to build the ideal team
  • How to propose to your bridal party

With some clarification from this guide, you’ll have an easier time assembling the bridal team to help you navigate your prenuptial journey. Check out the guide below for all the must-know information!

The Reasons for Bridal Parties

Have you ever wondered why brides have a group of bridesmaids at all? The wedding party has always been essential across cultures and religions because the couple needs support. But bridesmaids had to do much more than supporting the bride in the time leading up to her special day.

A Bit of Wedding History

This tradition dates to ancient times. Back then, the bridesmaids would support the bride, but in some cultures, they also helped protect the bride. For example, in ancient Rome, some believed that evil spirits could hurt the bride or wish bad fortune upon the couple.

In other cultures, people would try to kidnap the bride for money! So, the loyal team of bridesmaids worked as decoys to protect the bride and prevent thieves from kidnapping her for the dowry. 

Weddings Today

Nowadays, the Maid of Honor and bridesmaids don’t serve that same purpose, and instead, strive to assist the bride in whatever way they can. If she needs someone to rant to, they’re ready to listen. And if she can’t decide whether to include carnations or roses in the bouquet, they’ll help with that too. Although they may not be protecting their bestie from evil spirits or kidnappers, bridesmaids are still pretty tough and help beat that pre-wedding stress—which can be monstrous.

A Tie Between History and Today

One commonality between ancient and modern weddings is that the one bridesmaid—usually the Maid of Honor—acts as a witness alongside the best man. Of course, today, you only need one or two witnesses depending on where you live, but back then, you needed a group, which is another reason bridal parties tend to include 8 to 12 people.

You Need a Witness

There are a few reasons a witness must sign the marriage license, and the main one is that their signature signifies that they saw the wedding ceremony. The law requires their signature in order to obtain a marriage certificate.

Who Is the Maid of Honor?

Although your Maid of Honor is one of the bridesmaids, this individual has more responsibilities, as they are often in charge of the bridesmaids. Typically, this individual is the bride’s closest friend and may even be a sister or sister-in-law. There are no rules stating who it has to be; no matter what anyone else tries to tell you, the choice is yours.

Tips for Deciding on a Maid of Honor

You may have many close friends or sisters, and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The Maid of Honor isn’t necessarily the person you like the most, though they typically are your closest friend or relative. Think of the Maid of Honor as the individual who will get things done. They’re a self-starter, responsible, reliable, and creative, to mention a few. Your Maid of Honor helps you the most and may even assist with planning if you need her to.

Maid of Honor vs. Bridesmaids: What’s the Difference?

The Job of the Maid of Honor

As explained, the Maid of Honor usually helps the bride plan the wedding and celebrations leading up to it, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette parties. But that’s not her only job. The Maid of Honor also:

  • Buys the required dress and accessories
  • Ensures the bridesmaids have their dresses
  • Gives a speech at the wedding
  • Attends bridal dress fittings with the bride
  • Answers questions from guests, such as gift registry-related ones

She also helps the bride get ready on the wedding day; the Maid of Honor may go through a rundown of the checklist to ensure the bride and all the bridesmaids have what they need. The Maid of Honor will take on many jobs that ultimately help keep the bride happy and ready for her walk down the aisle.

Her Job on the Big Day

She’ll hold the bride’s flowers at the wedding plus her own. The Maid of Honor usually stands by as the couple signs the marriage license. And she’ll give a memorable speech at the reception to toast the new couple so the celebrations can begin!

Throughout the night, the bride may also need her help holding up that poofy wedding dress during bathroom breaks between all the dancing at the reception! Additionally, the Maid of Honor helps the couple host their wedding by telling guests where to put their gifts, where they’re sitting, and more.

What’s a Matron of Honor?

A lot of us have heard of the Maid of Honor, and some may have heard of a “Matron” of Honor. Both titles are for the same role, but the Matron of Honor refers to a married woman, while the Maid of Honor is not married.

Who Are the Bridesmaids?

Unlike the Maid/Matron of Honor, bridesmaids don’t typically tackle a lot of the planning aspects of the wedding, but they still attend all major events; they help the bride and Maid of Honor whenever necessary. Similar to the Maid of Honor, the bridesmaids are close friends or relatives of the bride. As the bride expands her inner circle, one or two bridesmaids may also be her future sister-in-law.

Tips for Deciding on Your Bridesmaids

Knowing who to pick can be challenging because you don’t want to upset one of your friends by giving them a wedding invitation instead of a bridesmaid proposal. But you have to do what’s right for you, and asking all your friends to be a part of your wedding party isn’t realistic. Jot down the pros and cons of a big bridal party, then weigh them against a small party.

Small vs. Big Bridal Party

Large bridal parties are great because you don’t have to worry about upsetting anyone, but it can be a lot harder to coordinate dress fittings. Not to mention, big wedding parties come at a higher cost to you because it’s tradition for the couple to give gifts to everyone at their wedding. Whether they’re a guest or bridesmaid, your friends and relatives will provide you with support in your time of need.

Maid of Honor vs. Bridesmaids: What’s the Difference?

The Job of the Bridesmaids

So, what do the bridesmaids do now that they don’t have to act as decoys to deter thieves and evil spirits? Usually, the bridesmaids help the Maid of Honor with planning and serve as cohosts at events like the bridal shower and rehearsal dinner. They’ll collect gifts from guests, keep track of who gives the couple what, and more. Other jobs of the bridesmaids include:

  • Helping decorate for the shower and rehearsal dinner
  • Buying required dresses and accessories plus keeping track of them
  • Attending all pre-wedding events
  • Paying for the bride at the bachelorette party
  • Running last-minute errands

The bridesmaids also offer the bride all the emotional support and knowledge she needs and lend a helping hand to keep things moving smoothly. Everyone works as a team to keep the day running smoothly so everyone can have a fantastic time celebrating your union.

Their Job on the Wedding Day

On the big day, your bridesmaids still have work to do. While they don’t have to give a speech, they may need to help direct guests and get the party started! They’ll also help make sure you’re ready and look gorgeous for your walk down the aisle. In other words, the bridesmaids work alongside your Maid of Honor to ensure your wedding is the party of the century.

Build Your Ideal Support System

You can pick whoever you want to be a part of your wedding party because this is your day. Sure, bridesmaids are traditionally a group of women; there is no rule stating that’s the only way. You call the shots on your wedding. If you want your brother, guy best friend, or other non-women to stand beside you, do it! The only rule about weddings is to have an incredible time and ask your favorite people to stand by you.

Choose Who You Want

If all your bridesmaids aren’t women, think of alternative outfits. For example, you can pick out a dress for those who want it and pick out a corresponding dress shirt for others. This way, everyone still looks uniform but also feels their best.

Ideas for Proposing to Your Bridal Party

Once you have a list of the people you need by your side on this special day, you need to think about how you’ll ask them. Would you rather give them a gift box or a monogrammed sweet?

You can choose from all kinds of bridal party proposal gift ideas. Most brides-to-be gift a combination of items like a wine glass, facial products, and something to wear for the wedding.

The way and timing of when you ask your bridesmaids to stand by your side is up to you. You could have a party and invite them over as a group or schedule time with each individual to pop the question.

Maid of Honor vs. Bridesmaids: What’s the Difference?

In the End: Do What Feels Right

The most important part of picking out your bridesmaids is deciding on people who make you feel the most supported and loved. You shouldn’t feel pressured to include anyone. And remember, your bridesmaids and Maid of Honor help plan events like your bridal shower and bachelorette party. It’s best to pick reliable members of your inner circle, so you don’t have the stress of wondering whether they’ll do their job without being micromanaged.

When things are stress-free, you can enjoy the bliss of wedding planning. Though they have slightly different roles, your bridesmaids and Maid of Honor are always there to support you before, during, and after the wedding. Pick out a loyal team you know will accomplish that mission with ease!

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Everyday Bride

Freelance Writer
September 14, 2022

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