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Does The Maid Of Honor Wear A Different Dress? [Typically]

When it comes to planning your wedding attire, one question that you will likely have is how to dress each member for your bridal party. But what about the maid of honor? Should she closely match the fellow bridesmaids or wear something different altogether? I spent some time researching both tradition and etiquette to find out exactly how I would approach this for my special day. I would like to share my findings here with you today.

So, does the maid of honor wear a different dress? Traditionally, the maid of honor does wear a different dress to the bridesmaids, either in style or in color. This is to distinguish her from the bridal party, helping her to stand out and bring special attention to her. The difference in appearance can be more subtle, or more dramatic, depending on the bridal couple and the maid of honors preferences. Equally a change of accessories, flower bouquet or shoes are all something to differentiate her by.

As the name suggests, the maid of honor, is a pretty big deal. Normally a relative or very close friend, they also are responsible for a range of both pre-wedding and wedding day duties.

They in many ways ensure the day is as special as possible, especially for the bride. Doing all you can to can make them feel more special, enabling you to recognize them for who they are and all the support they have given you.

Let us now take a closer look at some of those other questions you may likely have; such as do they have to wear a different dress, how you can make your maid of honor stand out, the colors she should wear, and who typically pays for her dress.

Does Your Maid Of Honor Have To Wear A Different Dress?

Your maid of honor does not have to wear a different dress, although this is one such way that you can differentiate her from the rest of the bridal party.

If you did decide to do so, the dress could be slightly different in style, such as around the neckline, its length, the pattern or the overall color.

Otherwise, you could differentiate her more subtly by color, accessories, flower bouquet or shoes. (We will explore these in further detail in the section below)

Either way, it is important to recognize her for all the effort that she will have likely put into the wedding. From planning the bridal and attended rehearsal dinners during the pre-wedding activities, to helping the bride get ready and look at her beautiful best on the wedding day itself.

Of course, there is a lot more to her duties, but these are the main ones.

Equally, being either a relative or close friend, providing your maid of honor with a different, perhaps more elegant dress is one such way of acknowledging your relationship and a showing a sign of appreciation for it.

How Do I Make My Maid Of Honor Dress Stand Out?

Making your maid of honor stand out is all about brining the theme of your wedding, the rest of the wedding attire, and your maid of honors preferences together.

There are in fact several ways you can make her stand out, let us know look at each one below:


The dress is perhaps the most easiest, most popular and somewhat direct ways to individualize.

For starters, you could opt for a dress that is a shade lighter, or darker than what your bridesmaids will be wearing. Nevertheless, they should align with the theme and be coordinated in a way to make it clear she is the maid of honor. Unless you have two, of course..

Having a striped design for the dress, whilst the bridesmaids wear a solid alternative is another option.


There are a number of different hairstyles that your maid of honor could wear and that you could get your wedding hairdresser to do.

It could be different altogether from all of the other bridesmaids (whom wear their hair in the same style). But, just be careful that it does not match the brides!


Different accessories can make a discreet difference, but one nonetheless. It could be a bracelet, a hair-piece, a broach, a necklace or a pair of earings.

In fact, you can even pair a change of hair with a hair-piece accessory.

Providing different accessories works well; and it offers you an ideal opportunity to gift your maid of honor. It can be a nice touch and a way to make her feel very special for the occasion.


In regards to flowers, you can always get your florist to differentiate her bouquet in some way.

They could have a larger bouquet, include a certain type of flower that the bridesmaids do not have, or it could be a set of flowers that are different in colors altogether.

What Color Of Dress Does The Maid Of Honor Wear?

The maid of honor can either wear the same color as the be bridesmaids, or a different color; it depends on how you would like to differentiate her, and how much by.

Whether the color be drastically different, or a single shade; what is important is that she is recognized for her role, duties and responsibilities and is comfortable and confident in what she will ultimately wear.

When selecting a color for the maid of honor, along with the bridesmaids, think carefully about the skin tones and hair color of your bridal party.

Just because the wedding theme may have pastel colors; this may not necessarily mean these colors look good or are what your bridal party would be happy to wear.

Generally speaking, brighter colors suit most complexions whereas pastel hues suit fairer complexions.

If your maid of honor and bridesmaids have an array of skin tones then select the colors that suit them and the wedding theme.

Who Pays For The Maid Of Honor Dress?

Traditionally, the maid of honor would have to pay for her dress, along with any accessories set out and defined by the bride.

This was the case for all wedding attendants, including the rest of the bridal party (including the bridesmaids and the groomsmen)

However and more recently, it has become much more popular and common for the bridal couple to cover the costs of the wedding attire – either totally or contributing towards. Again this would mean for the maid of honor and for the rest of their bridal party.

This is a considered a nice gesture, but ultimately depends on whether the bridal couple can afford to take on the cost and their opinions on it.

Sometimes, the bride may pay for accessories, the makeup or the wedding hair aswell as or instead of the dress.

However, one thing to consider is that this is typically the exception rather than the norm. Traditions are still mostly followed.

For this reason, the maid of honor, along with the fellow bridesmaids and groomsmen, should be prepared to cover the costs of their expenses. Not just with their attire, but their transportation and potentially accommodation costs too.

Nevertheless, it is the bridal couples responsibility to communicate with the bridal party early on. Setting expectations and letting everybody know their financial responsibilities.

Equally, if the maid of honor or fellow bridesmaid(s) are struggling with the costs, it is their responsibility to have this conversation with the bride.


The maid of honor is a special person; one in whom should be acknowledged for such.

Whether this be by differentiating her from the rest of the group subtly, or by giving her more attention with a more drastic change, there are plenty of options to consider.

The dress, hairstyle, accessories and flowers are all such ways to set her apart. Just be sure to have the conversation with her well ahead of time on what you are planning to do and how she feels about it.

Take her advice, listen to her opinions, and ensure that she will be fully comfortable and confident in the choices you make.

And if you can afford it, consider purchasing/ putting some money towards her dress, buying her a special accessory/item of jewelry, or paying for her hair and make up on the day of the wedding.

While it is not the traditional thing to do, its a lovely gesture and one such way of saying thank you for all that she will do for your special day.

Want to learn more about the Maid of Honor? My following guides may be of help: