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Historically, the maid of honor defended the bride by attending all functions with her. Her job as chaperone extended to insuring that the bride's virtue remained intact until the wedding day. On the day of the wedding, the maid of honor and bridesmaid dressed similarly to each other, in part to provide physical protection, but also to confuse any evil spirits that might malign the bride and groom. In everything leading up to the moment the bride says "I do," the maid of honor served as her partner.
The maid of honor serves in a multitude of functions. Following the initial honor of being asked, her first major task is to arrange the bachelorette and bridal showers. While the two events are often confused, it is the maid of honor's function to give the bride what she wants. The bridal shower is a family and friends event while the bachelorette party is one last night on the town with the ladies. Other functions the maid of honor will fulfill are assisting the bride in scouting locations for the wedding and more often than not, helping the bride register for gifts.
The maid of honor will be the bride's right and sometimes her left hand, particularly when it comes to shopping for the wedding and bridesmaid dresses. While it is typical for the bridesmaids to purchase their own dresses, the bride still picks out the dresses and it is the maid of honor who helps facilitate the purchasing of the dresses as well as shepherding the bridesmaids in for their fittings. The maid of honor will also help the bride pick out favors, run errands and generally do her best to help the bride out as she prepares for her wedding day.
The maid of honor will be called on to perform many tasks in the days, weeks and months leading up to the wedding day. Her job, however, is not over the day of the wedding. In fact, on the big day itself she must fulfill some specific types of obligations to help the bride out. For example, the maid of honor will likely pick up the
bride or arrive at the bride's home to help prepare for the wedding well before anyone else. She'll act as messenger to and from the bride, fielding simpler questions and help reducing the stress on the bride.
She'll ensure privacy by acting as gatekeeper and not admitting anyone the bride doesn't want to see. When it comes time to walk down the aisle, she'll fluff the bride's dress and carry the ring for the groom. During the ceremony, she will hold the bride's bouquet. She will also legally sign the marriage licensed as an official witness to the ceremony. Finally, she will head over to the reception before the bride and make sure everything meets the bride's requests. The maid of honor is the hostess behind the scenes for the wedding, fulfilling the more detail oriented tasks leaving the bride free to concentrate on her wedding.
The maid of honor will be required to toast the bride and groom. She should spend some time before the ceremony and reception preparing the speech. Some brides ask their maids of honor to handle other tasks for them with relation to the wedding; in order to make sure nothing is forgotten she should make a checklist to keep track. Beyond all the tasks that the maid of honor will do, her primary duty is to the bride. Whether it is to act as a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on or old-fashioned moral support, the maid of honor is 100 percent about the bride, her feelings and her success.
The mark of a great maid of honor is that her contributions are noticed only by the bride. In many ways, being maid of honor is a thankless round of job after job, but the goal is not the accolades, but the bride's happiness. A maid of honor should never expect to outshine or outdo the bride no matter how many tasks she fulfills and it's her job to make sure she stays in the background or in the bride's shadow. Her satisfaction and acknowledgment comes from knowing that the bride's day is perfect because of her contribution, not because anyone applauds her for the work.