Gone were the days where the wedding microphone was reserved solely for the best man and father-of-the-bride. Modern weddings see a whole plethora of guests making speeches, the maid of honour being near the top of the list.
Whether you’re a seasoned public speaker or shake at the thought, we’ve got some top tips that’ll ease your nerves and help you craft the perfect speech for your best lady and her new hubby. Once you know how, you’ll be buzzing to get on that stage!
First impressions count, right? So, your opening line needs to be the one that grabs everyone’s attention and sets the tone for the rest of the speech. Do you want it to be funny, heartfelt, or formal? Remember that the groom will be covered by the best man – this is all about the bride.
· Funny – start with a joke. Perhaps a hilarious story about you and the bride; an embarrassing fact about her or perhaps a tongue-in-cheek account of how you met. Keep it PG and make sure to avoid revealing secrets that’ll turn the whole room sour.
· Heartfelt – This is your moment to show how much you love your best friend. Was she there for you during a moment of need? Does she always have your back? Perhaps you’ve known each other for a lifetime. This will let your audience know that your speech is going to be meaningful and that there’ll be no messing about.
· Formal – You may be going for this tone if you know the audience is not going to take kindly to crude jokes or soppy stories. Give them the facts: how long have you known the bride? Where did you meet? What are her achievements? Keep it simple.
There is no use performing a killer speech if nobody in the room knows who you are! Okay, most people will know you. But there’s likely to be distant relatives of the bride and groom and work colleagues who’ve never met you, so make sure you introduce yourself. Let them know how you know the bride and what your relationship is to her. If you’re feeling cheeky, maybe tell the guests how great they look – this is a sure-fire why to get them on your side!
It’s time to take a stroll down memory lane. Make sure to fill everyone in about your earliest memories of the bride. How did you meet? Was it friendship-at-first sight? Remember, this is about the bride, not you, so keep your focus on the lovely lady. What was she like before she met the groom? What were her first impressions of him? Keep it light-hearted – you don’t want to cause a divorce!
Stay off the vino and stay calm – This may be an obvious one, but trust us, a free bar and free-flowing processo may harm your speech. By all means, have a glass or two for Dutch courage, but nobody wants to listen to a slurred maid of honour speech. And, remember that weddings last for hours, sometimes days, to there is absolutely no rush to get through your speech. Take deep breaths and speak slowly.
Once everyone’s been filled in on the history of you and the bride, it’s time to dedicate some time to the happiest day of her life – the wedding day. Pay particular attention to all the hard-work and effort that’s gone into the planning and thank both sets of parents for all their help and contribution. If you want to make it appear that your speech is less scripted, then make an observation about the day so far; what a beautiful ceremony it was or how delicious the food is, that kind of thing.
Now you’ve got all bases covered regarding the bridge, it’s time to speak a little about the man of the day – the groom. If you’re going down the funny route, make sure to get some jokes in about how you think he’s not good enough for your best friend. Perhaps she’s got a celebrity crush who you think is far better suited. Of course, you need to come back to the fact that you think he is a genuinely lovely guy. It’s all fun and games but this really is a beautiful moment and something the two of them will remember for the rest of their lives. Let the audience know that you’re fully on their side.
So, you’ve spoken about the bride and groom separately. It’s time to talk about them as a couple or, as the Spice Girls say: ‘When Two Become One’. Make this has loving and as soppy as possible. State how happy they make each other, what a great team they are together and how you’re looking forward to seeing their future unravel. Do you have any cute stories of them? Just don’t be tempted to tell everyone about the huge row they had the birthday dinner that time… that won’t go down well!
Avoid Clichés - The beauty of the maid of honour speech is that it hasn’t been diluted with standard jokes like the best man’s has. However, it’s still all too easy to fall into the cliché trap. If you want your speech to be a success and to be remembered for years to come, make sure you come up with things that the audience have never heard before. Wedding jokes will make them groan. For example: ‘It’s been emotional – even the cake is in tiers.’
Of course, make sure to judge your crowd. They might absolutely love this!
This is the time to talk about the theme of love in general, so the audience better be prepared for more soppiness! Discuss the attributes needed for a successful marriage and perhaps use the bride and groom’s parents as an example to support your statement. Mention a time when you saw this in the couple and how that made you feel. This part can become awfully serious and a tearjerker, so end with a light-hearted quip to get everyone back in the mood for the party again!
It’s time to round everything off. Start by summarise what you’ve touched on and how much you’re looking for the rest of the day. Wish the bride and groom a lifetime of happiness. You can even call back to earlier stories or jokes which will tie everything up before the final few words. If you have a killer gag or anecdote up your sleep then this is the time to use it!
As maid of honour, we think that it’s normally best practice to keep along the theme of ‘love’ for the toast. If you have been mainly jokey or philosophical then stick with that till the end. You don’t want to ruin all your hard work with something that is out of place. Now make that toast and raise a glass. Make sure to enjoy the smiles and enjoy the applause rolling in and check to see the groom and bride’s reaction – it is their day after all. Now it’s time to enjoy the rest of the day, get the drinks in and party into the early hours!
Learn Your Lines - We are not suggesting you learn the speech off by heart but using some crumbled sheets of A4 will not fill your audience with confidence. It’ll give the sense that you were rushed and so haven’t put a lot of effort in. Instead, use cue cards. These allow you to maintain a linear speech with just a few bullet points. You’ll be able to keep looking up at the audience and will only need to glance down when you need your next prompt.
Maid of Honour Speech Jokes
It’s not just the best man who gets to have all the fun. You want the audience to look forward to your speech, expect a few laughs and get the feeling of sentiment. Nobody is expecting the UK’s answer to Joan rivers, but this is your chance to really get everyone giggling and let the happy couple’s mates have a good laugh at their expense. Don’t waste it with bad, cheesy jokes. Getting the right delivery is paramount – so make sure to practice beforehand.
Tone of the Jokes
This is a vital factor to think about. Remember your audience. This is a wedding, not a brash comedy club. Make sure to include the audience and don’t fill your speech with inside jokes.
Also, don’t over-explain the story with unnecessary information and side notes. Everyone is going to be waiting for the punch line, so don’t wait an age to get there.
It’s All in the Delivery
Confidence is the key to many things in life. Whether you’re on a first date or winging it at a new job, confidence will likely get you through. People are drawn to those who look like they know what they’re doing. Comedy is no different and sometimes a poor joke delivered confidently will get more of a reaction than a great joke done meekly.
Make your voice loud and assertive. Relax your body and, most importantly, breathe!
Furthermore, never try and act like someone you’re not. Your friends aren’t going to mind if you make a few mistakes. In fact, if you do slip up, just laugh it off and make a joke out of it. This will ease out the tension and help you move onto the next part of your speech.
Maid of Honour Speech Quotes
Here are a select few little nuggets of wisdom to get you thinking.
"The capacity to love is tied to being able to be awake, to being able to move out of yourself and be with someone else in a manner that is not about your desire to possess them, but to be with them, to be in union and communion." - bell hooks
"Love is the sum of our choices, the strength of our commitments, the ties that bind us together." - Emily Giffin
"Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more." - Erica Jong
"We love because it's the only true adventure" - Nikki Giovanni
"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get -- only with what you are expecting to give - which is everything." - Katherine Hepburn
"We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond." - Gwendolyn Brooks
" In a great romance, each person plays a part the other realy likes" - Elizabeth Ashley
"Love makes your soul crawl out form it's hiding place" - Zora Neale Hurston
"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. That is what makes a marriage last." - Simone Signoret
"Love is the lifespring of our existence. The more love you give, the happier you feel and the more love you will have within you to give." - Susan L. Taylor