What is the Difference Between a Maid of Honor and a Matron of Honor?

Image by jumpyjodes on FlickrAs a bride, you’ll have many details to attend to. Once you are engaged, thoughts will immediately turn to the people you intend to ask to be in your bridal party. Bridal parties have changed a little recently. Many brides are choosing male friends as part of their bridesmaid ensemble and many grooms are choosing female friends as their groomsmen or Best Man.

So, how do you navigate the confusing terminology such as Maid of Honor versus Matron of Honor? What’s the difference?

It’s actually quite simple. A Maid of Honor is the head bridesmaid and she is an unmarried woman, typically the bride’s best friend, sister, or favorite female relative. A Matron of Honor is exactly the same thing—a head bridesmaid—but the difference is that she is a married at the time of your wedding.

That’s really all that differentiates between a maid and matron. Maids will typically be younger, unmarried girls and the matron will typically be a married older sister or relative or best friend.

There are some things you should consider before choosing your Maid or Matron of Honor. First off, once you ask someone you can’t un-ask them. So choose wisely. You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by asking them in haste and then having to retract your offer. Another thing to consider is availability. Your best friend from college may be your first choice, but if she has to fly in from China for the ceremony, she’s probably not the best person to ask to be your Maid of Honor. She will not have the time to spend with you that the role of Maid of Honor requires.

Image by Miss Molly G. Willikers on FlickrAlso, you will want to consider your Maid of Honor’s schedule. Does she work crazy hours as an Emergency Room doctor and may not be available when you need her? Would asking her make her feel obligated to accept when she really won’t have the time she’d like to devote to you? Does your sister’s work schedule often call her away on business unexpectedly? Talk with her and ask her if she has the time and willingness to devote to the job. Make it known that your feelings won’t be hurt if she has to decline.

A Maid of Honor may be young and therefore not able to contribute monetarily to the bachelorette party and bridal shower as much as she’d like to. If this is the case, family and friends may help out,  but be sure that she is comfortable with her role before you assign her the job.

Another huge factor to consider is a Matron of Honor’s family life. If she is pregnant and going to be nearing her due date right before your wedding, she’s not the best choice for your Maid of Honor. Not only will she be uncomfortably pregnant but she could deliver at any time. Also, if she has small children, she may have to attend to them and prefer you chose someone else as your first bridesmaid. It all depends on the relationship you have to your family and friends. Be honest and tell them your concerns. Avoid making any public announcements about who will definitely be in your wedding party before consulting everyone involved.

And amongst everything, don't forget to get her a maid of honor gift, after all her hard work, be sure that you thank her appropriately!

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