Does the Maid of Honor Wear a Different Dress?

Your maid of honor is someone who’s been by your side long before you met your partner. They probably gave their approval when you first started dating, listened to you complain when you argued, and applauded when you made up.

They might have been the first one you told about your engagement and you knew that you were going to ask them to be your maid of honor. After all, it has to be someone you trust completely. They’ll be planning your bachelorette party, step in if there’s conflict amongst the bridal party, and help you choose the most important dress you’ll ever wear.

While you, your partner, and some of your wedding guests will know who the maid of honor is, chances are that there are a lot of people who won’t. That’s why it’s a good idea to make your maid of honor stand out from the rest of the bridal party. But what’s the best way to do that? Does the maid of honor wear a different dress?

Let’s explore the many ways to set them apart from the bridesmaids, look at the pros and cons and hopefully find a solution for you and the one you loved before you found true love.

Trends in Maid of Honor Dresses

Now, any trends will depend on when you’re planning on getting married. The dresses worn at a winter wedding will be very different from those worn at a late July one. Just like fashion, wedding trends change year on year so if this is important to you, make sure you’re buying up-to-date wedding magazines so you can stay ahead of the trend.

The bridesmaids and maid of honor’s roles in a wedding isn’t modern practice. If you look back through history, you can find mentions of bridesmaids throughout. In Roman times, brides would often travel long distances to their husband’s village, usually with a large dowry in tow.

This meant that they were targets for bandits who wouldn’t just steal the dowry, but also the bride! “Bridesmaids” would accompany the bride on her journey and dress similarly, in the hope of confusing the bandits. This is likely where bridesmaids originated from.

The veil can also be traced back to this era. Veils were worn by the bride to stop evil spirits taking hold of the bride on her wedding day. Obscuring her face was thought to confuse the spirit and hopefully, they’d move on to someone else

While we do have our superstitions and traditions around weddings (something old, something new, something borrowed or something blue anyone?) or saying that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony, it’s unlikely that evil spirits or bandits are going to make an appearance at your 21st-century wedding. This means that you have more freedom on what to dress your maid of honor in.

the bride in white with her maid of honor and bridesmaids in lilac gowns. A short dress is used to make the maid of honor stand out from the other bridesmaids.

How to Make the Maid of Honor Stand Out

As we’ve already established, a maid of honor is someone very important to the bride. It could be your sister, your bestie from college, or maybe even your mom. Their presence in your life is cherished so they should stand out from the rest of the wedding party on the big day.

But how can you do this without making everyone else feel inferior? Does the maid of honor wear a different dress? Let’s take a look at some common ways of making the maid of honor stand out.

Complimenting Colors

Your maid of honor can wear a dress in a complimenting color. So, if your bridesmaids are wearing lilac, get your maid of honor a deep purple dress. Or if your bridesmaids have gowns in dark blue, choose a sky blue for your maid of honor.

It should be a color that fits in with your chosen wedding color palette, not a completely different color. Make it noticeable enough in a subtle way, perhaps play with the shades, so that people know she has an important role but not so out there that she looks out of place!

Pretty Patterns

Consider using patterns on the dresses. Your bridesmaids could wear block colors while your maid of honor has a floral pattern in the same color scheme. This is a good way to have contrasting bridesmaid outfits without being too mismatched.

Neat Necklines

Another way to make your maid of honor stand out is to change up the neckline on her dress. If the bridesmaids have straps, make hers strapless. Or choose sleeves for your maid of honor while the bridesmaids have halter necks. This is a good option if you don’t want to disrupt the color palette but still have a different dress for your maid of honor.

Fun with Fabrics

If you want to stay with the same color combinations, don’t be afraid to mix up the fabric combinations so your MOH’s dress is just slightly different. Bridesmaids in satin dresses – why don’t you try your maid or matron of honor in chiffon or velvet? Or maybe add some sequins?

Don’t be afraid to change up the textures to make your maid of honor stand out! Just be sure to order some fabric swatches in advance so you can get a sense of how they’ll look.

Swap Silhouettes

A common trend these days is to have mismatched bridesmaids’ dresses by style or silhouette, not just the neckline. And this can apply to your head bridesmaid as well. You can give her a completely different style, maybe with a maxi dress if the other maids are wearing shorter lengths.

Beautiful Bouquet

If you’ve chosen to give your bridal party bouquets, they’ll already match the color palette of the dresses. Consider giving your maid of honor a different flower than the rest of the bridal party. Why not include this flower in your bouquet too? You could also tie in your groom’s best man and give him the same type as his boutonniere.

Or, go completely rogue and give your maid of honor something else to carry instead of flowers. There are literally so many possibilities here!

Jazzy Jewelry

We all know that accessories make an outfit. Instead of having a different dress for the maid of honor, she can wear some different jewelry. You could even buy a nice necklace or a hairpiece for your maid of honor to wear and gift it to her before the wedding as a token of her hard work; it’ll be a lovely piece of personalized wedding attire.

Does the Maid of Honor Wear a Different Dress? Pros and Cons

Does the maid of honor wear a different dress? She does in this picture of a beautiful bride with her maid of honor and two bridesmaids in flowing gowns.

Are there pros and cons to having unique maid of honor gowns? Of course there are!


  • The maid of honor is allowed to have some more input into the dress she wears, hopefully helping her to feel more confident on the day
  • It shows her that you value her time and her input in helping you plan your dream day
  • There are many ways to make her stand out, it doesn’t have to be her dress you change. This gives you more control as a bride over the aesthetic of your day and the all-important photos.


  • Whether it’s the color of a dress or a different hairpiece, you might find that making your maid of honor stand out comes with additional charges neither of you had budgeted for.
  • It might make the rest of your bridal party feel inferior or not as important.
  • The changes you make might look out of place and ruin the overall feel of your day.
  • The style or color that you want to use for your maid of honor gown might not suit her frame or complexion.


Does the maid of honor wear a different dress to the rest of the bridal party?

It’s all down to personal preference. What works for one bride might not work for another and it’s down to the individuals involved to decide what is the right choice for them. It can be difficult to strike the right balance when it comes to something like this.

Sit down with your maid of honor and get her input. She might not want to stand out from the rest of the bridal party. But whatever you decide, your wedding will be perfect for you.

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