Ancient Romans believed that evil spirits haunted weddings so to protect the bride and groom they required ten witnesses to dress in the same clothing as the couple so the spirits wouldn't know who was who. The maid of honor was one of these attendants. She and the other bridesmaids dressed like the bride for another crucial reason – to trick very mortal aggressors, the men in the groom’s village who were jealous of the groom and might try to steal the bride away before the ceremony. Brides in ancient times traditionally traveled to the groom’s village for the ceremony so she really needed reliable protection. The maid of honor made sure to stick by the bride, dressed exactly like her, to confuse any threats natural or supernatural until her fate was secured.
The maid of honor also helped the bride dress before the wedding, as she still does today, and helped her weave a wreath of aromatic flowers believed to protect her from evil spirits. The term “maid of honor” came from the United Kingdom, meaning female attendants to the queen.
The position of maid/matron of honor today is usually reserved for the bride’s closest confidante. She plays an essential role in the event planning and assisting the bride. She performs all of the bridesmaid expectations as well as many additional tasks to ease any stress on the bride.
When you begin to plan a wedding, you may be a little confused about all the terms involved with the wedding party. Some wedding parties include simply the bride and groom, but more often than not, wedding parties will have several bridesmaids and groomsmen. One special member of the bridal party is the maid or matron of honor. What exactly, though, is the difference between the maid of honor and matron of honor?
Traditionally, the maid of honor is the unmarried best friend or sister of the bride. Most brides have at least one maid of honor in their wedding party.
The matron of honor is usually a close friend or relative of the bride who is already married.
No matter which title is used, the duties are the same. Here are a few to mention:
Generally the MOH shops with the bride for wedding dresses and attends fittings. She also usually has a voice in choosing the bridesmaid dresses.
She helps the bride with wedding event planning as the bride needs. Some brides want the MOH to come along to all vendor consultations; others just want someone to bounce ideas off of.
Takes the lead on any bridesmaid group gift to the bride (if applicable) and organizes a bridesmaid luncheon, if the bride chooses to have one.
Serves as the bride’s assistant on the wedding day, helping her with everything from lipstick freshening to herding the single ladies for the bouquet toss.
Gives a toast at the wedding reception.
Often plans the events such as bridal showers or bachelorette parties, but is not required, and these duties can be split amongst other bridesmaids and friends.
Just keep in mind, although you are the “go to” person for the bride, don’t let that get to your head. You are there to help the bride and assist, she trusts you more than anyone, don’t try to take over. Many relationships have ended due to “power hungry” MOA’s. Don’t worry ladies, your day will come.
You should know by now what you plan to do and how to go about doing it, but here are some “DON’TS” to add to your list:
DON’T: Get drunk.
At least not before your speech! If you are one of the terrified 15% of Americans, use other relaxation techniques to calm yourself. Feel free to jump into the libations (responsibly) when you’re done. If you make a fool out of yourself while drunkenly attempting to deliver your speech, you will most likely end up on YouTube.
DON’T: Be anti-marriage.
Don’t express these sentiments in your speech, even if you are doing so in order to emphasize how the bride’s relationship defies your preconceived notions. You might be booed offstage before you can get to that part. For example, avoid quotes such as this one from Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary:
“Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
If your goal is to never be invited to another wedding ever again, this is the way to go.
DON’T: Mention the bride’s past boyfriends or any other intimate details.
There is no good reason to mention past boyfriends, and if you do you’re liable to make everyone in the room uncomfortable. The last thing you want to do is open a can of worms between the bride and the groom on their wedding day. Also, don’t mention past exploits, including those crazy college nights or anything that happened at the bachelorette party.
DON’T: Drag on forever.
You can say everything you want or need to say within five minutes. Anything else can be said in private later on. You are probably not going to be the only one giving a speech, and you don’t want to put your audience to sleep. Ceremonies can be long, so everyone probably wants to get to the dancing and eating by that point. You don’t want the only memorable thing about your speech to be that it wouldn't END.
DON’T: Express your undying passion for the groom.
Or the bride. Or anyone really.
DON’T: Take your frustration out on crew and vendors the day of the service.
This can be a little tricky to explain, but if you have an issue with someone who is hired help, the worst thing you can do is cause a scene and feel you have to address it then and there. If it is something you feel you need to take care of that moment, find the appropriate person to bring it up to in private. Normally if you have a wedding planner, this is the correct person to go to. You have to remember that these workers are getting their orders from several different people leading all the way up to the bride. I know we all want everything to be perfect for this special day, but do remember that they are still human and mistakes may be made. If you can wait, bring these issues up after the service. This is supposed to be a fun filled day, don’t let something get in the way of achieving this.