A good maid of honor speech starts with a few good ideas and anecdotes. How you piece these together is entirely up to you, but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind when sitting down to translate your sister’s third birthday fiasco, or your best friend’s intolerance of mayonnaise-based sauces into a wonderful and, hopefully, well remembered speech.
The pressure to create and deliver a successful speech can be daunting, especially if public speaking isn’t your strong suit. What if you get tongue-tied? What if you inadvertently offend someone? What if you burst into uncontrollable tears and are physically incapable of continuing on past the first few lines? Here, find some pointers for writing and delivering your speech if you find yourself at a loss for words.
One of the first things to keep in mind when writing your speech is to consider the wedding’s attendees. Chances are, as the maid of honor, you have a pretty good idea of who’s in the audience—who’s sure to laugh at that strategically-placed punch line, and who’ll never let you live it down should you falter over a sentence or two. You’ll have to carefully gauge the collective scruples, sense of humor, etc. of the crowd to determine whether it’s appropriate to retell some of the infamies of your youth. If you’re a little unsure of the temperament of the groom’s family, always err on the side of caution by keeping it light-hearted yet family-friendly.
While there’s no hard and fast rule pertaining to the length of your speech, try to keep it on the leaner side of three minutes. You want to be able to offer up more than a couple of one-liners, but don’t want people to lose interest after your third anecdote. If people start checking their watches or yawning, this may be a good cue for you to skip your long-winded, yet amusing, story about the infamous road trip along the coast.
It’s up to you to decide the emotional tone of your speech, but pithy dialog smattered with a dose of humor for good measure tends to be a winning formula. You might start by introducing yourself. While everyone may know that you’re the maid of honor, for those in the audience that may be casual acquaintances, or haven’t seen you since your high school days, it’s a great icebreaker, and a perfect segue into a good joke or story.
Don’t forget to include some fun facts about the groom as well—a quick recap of your first meeting paired with funny or heart warming insights is always a reliable fallback if you find that dreaded writer’s block starting to set in. It’s customary to wrap up your speech with a toast, sending the bride and groom off with warm wishes for a bright and happy future together.
Whether you’re planning to read, memorize, or ad lib, you should try to run through your speech aloud at least once. Preferably, enlist the audience of a friend or two who’ll still do you the honor of laughing when they’re supposed to on the big day. They’ll be able to give you feedback and may even offer some ideas you hadn’t even thought of. Even if you just read it to yourself in your bathroom mirror, it’s worth the effort.
Hearing it out loud will give you an opportunity to recognize possible stumbling blocks, gauge length, and analyze your speech’s rhythm. It will also make you aware of any bad speaking habits you may have—like the tendency to rush when nervous, or to use “ums” or “ers” if you lose your place or need to collect your thoughts.
Use this opportunity to get theatrical. Engage a little intonation and throw in some hand gestures where you think they might invoke the best response. Your bathroom mirror is a great place to pretend you have a rapt audience and the best way to get comfortable with your speech.
Your speech can be equated to the final exam of your educational career. You’ve made it down the aisle without tripping over your stylish (yet perilous) five-inch heels. You’ve managed to get through the vows without smudging your carefully applied makeup. The speech is the final hurdle before you can truly relax and enjoy the party. So grab your cue cards, dab those palms, and take a deep breath.
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