When someone asks you to be her maid of honor, it's a huge compliment. The bride wants you by her side on the most important day of her life. It's a big deal, and like most big deals, it's also an enormous responsibility.
Your Mission, If You Choose to Accept It
As maid of honor, you're the bride's second-in-command. You help with the wedding planning logistics, organize a bridal shower and/or bachelorette party, and keep the bride from losing her cool.
On the big day itself, you help the bride get ready. You calm her nerves and stand by her side as she makes a very important promise. And then there's the speech.
If you're not really a public speaking person, this may be the part that's making you secretly want to become the Runaway Bridesmaid.
The Value of a Maid of Honor Speech
Lots of people get nervous about speaking in public: 25.3 percent, to be exact, which makes public speaking the most common fear in America. So you're in good company – but you're also going to push through because your speech is an important part of the bride's big day.
Remember, no one else knows the bride as you do. The bride's parents might also speak, but their speech won't sound like yours. They'll probably wax poetic about the little girl who grew up before their eyes, but you have different stories to tell. Whether those stories are about the kid she “married” in second grade or her phone call to tell you about the amazing person she just met (spoiler: it's her partner), you can tell her part of the story like no one else can.
How to Write a Maid of Honor Speech – Five Steps
Writing wedding speeches isn't something you're likely to learn how to do in school, and the maid of honor title doesn't exactly come with a handbook. It might seem like you're just expected to wing it.
It's tempting but resist the urge. Improvised wedding speeches are hardly ever the ones that get tons of likes on social media, at least not for the right reasons. You'll do better, and be much calmer if you take the time to plan it out in advance. Here's an easy five-step plan you can follow, with a couple of maid of honor speech examples to get you started.
1. Introduce yourself.
Even if it's a small wedding, there's a good chance that at least one person there won't know you. Besides which, opening with who you are and how you know the bride is a great way to segue into a juicy story.
Try something like “Hi, everyone, I'm Julie, and I'm Susan's favorite cousin. We met when Susan was three days old, but what I remember most is ...”
Remember, as interesting as your own life has been, always bring it back to the bride. She's the one they all came to see.
2. Choose the stories you want to tell.
If you know the bride well enough to be the maid of honor, you probably have lots of stories about her, but not all of them will be appropriate for this particular setting. Weddings tend to have elderly relatives, children, co-workers, and religious leaders. This might not be the place to talk about that drunken New Year's Eve when you and the bride made out in her brother's car. Stick with family-friendly and safe-for-work kinds of stories.
Consider the Tone
You'll also want to think about what you want the feeling of the speech to be. There are funny maid of honor speeches, there are those that are full of warm fuzzies, and there are still others that are deep and spiritual. It all depends on who you are, what the bride and her partner are like, and yes, who will be in attendance. If the bride's and her partner's families are jokesters, then by all means pull out the funny stories. But if it's a more serious atmosphere, go with the flow.
Make the Connections
You probably still have lots of stories to choose from, so pick out the ones that connect best to the wedding and to the bride's relationship with her partner. If you knew her when you were kids, did she ever talk about who she wanted to marry? Extra points if it was someone like the person she's marrying today.
You probably still have lots of stories to choose from, so pick out the ones that connect best to the wedding
It's also hard to go wrong with a story about how the bride met her significant other. Was she talking about them for a full week afterward? Did she call you after their first date to tell you the juicy details? Or was it one of those relationships where she just wasn't sure at first, but then she fell for them?
Give Her Partner Some Love
"How they met" kinds of stories segue beautifully into an anecdote about how you got to know the bride's partner. Maybe there were some memorable double dates, or maybe they're the kind of people that make you feel like the most valued third wheel in the world. Or has their relationship has brought about a fun and rewarding friendships between you and your bestie's new spouse? Whatever it is, use it to bring the speech back to the two of them as a couple.
3. Wish them well in the years to come.
Now that you've told all of these stories about the past, it's time to start talking about the future. After all, weddings really are about the first day of the couple's new life together. Take some time in your speech to tell them all the wonderful things that you wish for them.
If You've Been There
If you're technically a “matron” of honor (the traditional term for an attendant of honor who is married), you may have some advice about wedded life to share with the happy couple. If you feel like the couple would welcome it, and if you can present it in a fun and playful way, feel free to add it in.
4. Organize your thoughts.
Once you've decided what you want to say, then it's time to put it into a logical order. An outline is a great place to start, even if it does remind you of English class. Jot down what you want to say in your introduction, what story you want to lead into, and how that story will lead into the next.
Don't Forget the Conclusion
Most maid of honor speeches happen in the form of a toast, so asking everyone to raise their glasses is always a good fallback. It's even more satisfying if you can incorporate references from earlier in the speech: “Let's all raise our glasses and wish Julie and Sam a future rich in love, full of hope, and sprinkled with eventful bowling trips.”
Another option is to end with a quote, either one that reminds you of the couple or one that you know they like. Your quote can even segue into the toast itself. As long as it says “the end” with a personal touch, you're golden.
5. Practice, practice, practice!
Now that your speech sounds perfect on paper, make sure it sounds perfect read aloud. After all, that's how your audience is going to be taking it in.
Get some feedback.
Read your speech in front of other people if you can, or video it and watch it afterward. Chances are, you'll find at least one thing that you want to change or add. Also, check in about your delivery. Are you speaking clearly? Are you animated, but not over the top?
Every time you practice your speech, start a timer. If it goes on for more than five minutes, cut something. There are a lot of things that have to happen at a wedding, and you don't want to be the one holding up the boat. Shoot for between three and four minutes, so that you have a few seconds here and there to hold for applause, get a laugh, or wait for the bride's mother to find a tissue.
A Few Examples
Although your speech will be unique, it's worth checking out what other people have done. Here are a few examples of maid of honor speeches to spark your imagination.
A Maid of Honor Speech Example
Hello, everyone. I'm so glad to see you all here to celebrate Jane and John as they pledge their love to each other.
In case you don't know me, my name is Beth, and I'm the maid of honor. I've been friends with Jane since we were bunkmates together at camp in sixth grade. It was my first year at camp, Jane's third, and it just happened to be the year that we were of age to attend the Saturday social dance with the boys' camp across the lake.
Dressing for the Dance
Now, if you know Jane, you won't be surprised that she brought five outfits and six pairs of shoes to choose from for the dance. We normally wore camp uniforms, but we were asked to bring one – one! – outfit for dance night.
I'd brought what I thought was a cool-looking outfit. Jane, of course, told me I was wrong. I believe her exact words were, “Sparkles are for little kids.” It's OK, I wasn't offended. I actually thought she was the coolest and most mature girl in the bunk, so I was kind of flattered that she took me under her wing. Anyway, we just happened to be the same size, so I ended up wearing her short skirt and spaghetti strap top. Also her brown strappy sandals. And her silver bracelet. I danced with four different boys, and I assumed that it was my super grown-up outfit from super grown-up Jane.
That night, Jane crawled into my bed and told me that she'd had her first kiss. Her coolness level shot through the roof, and I had a serious friend crush.
Some Things Never Change
The first day of summer camp when we were fourteen, Jane once again crawled into my bed and told me that she had her first boyfriend. Since then, she's told me about several new guys, but one of them was different.
Two years ago, when Jane came to visit me, she told me that she had found The One. And it's true, the look in her eyes was different than it had been for those other guys. From that point on, she mentioned him in every phone call, every text message conversation, and every Facebook chat that we had.
Meeting the Man
I finally met John last year, when I went down to visit Jane in August. We went to the beach, and Jane wore her favorite bathing suit. John couldn't stop watching her. Of course, that's not surprising, just look at the girl. But here's the kicker. There were a group of college girls just down the beach from us, playing volleyball in their string bikinis. He still couldn't stop looking at Jane.
We went to go splash around in the ocean. The college girls were standing there giggling while the guys bodysurfed the waves into shore. The three of us? We had a bodysurf race. Jane won every time, and she did her victory dance every time.
Jane, because I love you, I'm not going to ask you to show them.
Jane saw a dog walking by and knelt down to pet him, dog voice and all. (I won't make you show them that, either, Jane.) John crouched down right next to her and asked who was a good boy and a floofy doggo. That's when I knew that this was the real deal.
What True Love Looks Like
Jane is 100 percent herself around John, and he loves every part of her. And she feels the same way about him. She still can't sit through a football game, but she learned the names of his favorite teams and players so that she can get him the right jersey for Christmas.
Jane and John, I love you both so much. I can't wait to watch you love each other all the rest of your days, and I can't wait to do your victory dance on the dance floor later. To Jane and John!
A Maid of Honor Speech for a Sister
Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for coming out tonight. Don't adjust your television sets, you're not seeing double. I'm Kate, Bridget's sister. And no, we're not twins, although we do get that a lot. I'm 11 months older, but I'm totally okay with my little sister getting married before me. She's always wanted to find the love of her life and settle down.
A Child Bride and Other Games
Bridget loved to play house, and she loved to play wedding. She was one of those little girls who walked down the upstairs hallway with one of Mom's good pillowcases bobby-pinned to her hair, making the rest of us hum “Here comes the bride” as she promised herself to Sam.
Sam was a very patient cat.
Bridget got “married” in kindergarten and I think again in second grade. But she wasn't one of those girls who had the pretend wedding, ate the pretend cake, then went back to believing that her beloved husband had cooties. She would ask the kid to play house with us and insist that he be the dad, and she be the mom. She would even share her pudding snacks with him at lunch.
Wait, Bridge, Mom knows about this right? Oops...
Point is, Bridget loves to have someone to love. But she's never found anyone that she loves quite so much as Sam. John. Frank? ... You know I'm kidding, Will, I love you. New bro.
My New Best Friend
Our family met Will when Bridget brought him home from college for Thanksgiving in her junior year. He sat between the two of us, and I think she regretted it by the end of the night. We were both obsessed with the TV show “Lost,” and by the end of dinner, we had about ten theories about how the show would end.
We were also both huge Marvel nerds and had seen “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man” twice each. We talked to each other like Yoda all night.
The Cutest Couple
Bridget was oddly silent with me that night. But then we all sat down on the couch to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" – it's a tradition in our family – and she sat between the two of us. She snuggled with him the whole time, and at the end, I leaned against her and told her how cute they were. Cuter than Wall-E and Eva, I believe I said.
Fast forward 10 years, and now I have the best brother-in-law in the world and the happiest sister. To paraphrase Mary Jane when she met Peter Parker – that's Spider-Man for you uninitiated – “Face it, tigers, you just hit the jackpot.”
They really did. Let's all raise our glasses to Bridget and Will. May you have a lifetime of wonderful memories and give me lots of adorable nieces and nephews. To Bridget and Will!
Maid of Honor Speech for a Best Friend
Friends and family. I'd like to welcome you again to Carolyn and Tim's wedding. I'm the maid of honor, Kelly, and I've been Carolyn's best friend for 15 years. We met at our high school orientation when they broke us up into small groups to tour the school, and we were committed to being besties by the time they showed us the chemistry lab.
Guys, I'm so lucky. Carolyn is the best friend a girl could ask for. She double-dated with me to both junior and senior prom, she backpacked across Europe with me after college, and she waited for me outside my first job interview. In all those years we've had lots of conversations about what we envisioned for our futures, our own and each others.
Teenage Dreams of Love
I particularly remember the day that I broke up with my boyfriend, Dan, when we were juniors in high school. Carolyn came over the second I called to tell her about the breakup and of course, she brought hot chocolate.
This comes as a surprise to none of you, I'm sure. Carolyn knows how to take care of people, and she pays attention to what they like.
Anyway, over our mugs of Swiss Miss, Carolyn and I decided that when the time came to find our forever guys, we weren't going to settle. Carolyn was absolutely, positively going to have a man who was outdoorsy but not macho, loved animals, wanted exactly three kids, and was close to his family.
A Dream Fulfilled
Well, all of you who know Tim know that she got exactly what she wished for. Tim has the most amazing family, and we're so glad to be joining our tow families today. He has an adorable Labrador retriever that he has promised I can sit for, and they're going to hike part of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Could you get any more perfect than that?
The Meet Cute
Tim and Carolyn have been showing us all what true love looks like for seven years. I, however, have known him for seven years and three weeks. We were day camp counselors together, the summer before our senior years of college. Tim had the 8-year-old boys, and I had the 8-year-old girls. He met Carolyn when she picked me up on a Friday afternoon when we were about to drive out to our cousin Cindy's wedding.
So, yeah, thanks, Cindy!
They met in the parking lot at camp, and I just happened to mention that they both loved soccer, ice cream sandwiches, and potbelly pigs. The next Friday, Carolyn picked me up again, and the next evening, they were eating ice cream sandwiches at a soccer game. They went out the following Saturday too, and by the end of the summer, she was picking us both up so that we could go hang out at our place. The three of us and Nick, who was my boyfriend at the time.
Nick and I didn't last, but Tim and Carolyn sure have. And they've welcomed into the picture my amazing husband Dave, who is one of Tim's groomsmen today. Wave, Dave! (I've been waiting all day to say that.)
Tim makes Carolyn glow, and she does the same for him. It makes my heart so happy to see my best friend so content and full of hope for the future. All of the dreams that we planned are coming true.
Well, most of them. The whole three kids thing is still pending, but I'm thinking it won't be long.
The Best Is Yet To Be
See, Carolyn is still a planner, but now they plan together. They have a house, with a big yard for Bozo. His dog, now their dog. Don't worry, Mom and Dad, they're not going to name any of their kids Bozo.
I mean, at least I don't think so. I don't like that look in Tim's eye right now. Tim, don't even think about it.
Seriously, though, these two are the kind of match anyone would want for their best friend. The kind of match that brings all of us here together to celebrate them. So let's raise our glasses to wish them many years of love, happiness, and beautiful mountain vistas. To Carolyn and Tim!
All three speeches keep things very light, but with an undercurrent of emotion. They all open with stories from the bride's childhood and teenage years, and sprinkle funny anecdotes throughout.
In the first speech, the writer uses her childhood "friend crush" on the bride to talk about their relationship and how much the bride means to her. In the second speech, the writer's close relationship with the bride – as her sister – lets her gently tease the bride about some of her childhood quirks, including her obsession with weddings. The third speech takes a slightly different tone. Its stories don't try to be as funny; instead, they emphasize that the bride is a caring person.
At around the halfway point, each speech stops being about the maid of honor's relationship with the bride, and becomes about the bride's relationship with her partner. The focus remains on them, and how happy they are together, until the end.
An Added Bonus – 5 More Tips for Writing a Maid of Honor Speech
Still feel like you need some guidance? Here are a couple of tips that can help you take your maid of honor speech from “Hey, you're a good speaker” to “OMG that was amazing and I'm crying!!”
1. Make notes to follow, but don't write it out word for word.
When you're sitting at home with your newly minted speech in front of you, easy to think that you can remember everything you're going to say. But unless you do this kind of thing for a living, it's easy to draw a blank when you're standing there in front of everyone.
That said, you don't want to be completely reliant on a script. You want to be able to spend the majority of your speech looking at the audience and at the bride because this is all really about connection. Jot down a few words that will help you connect one thought to the next, but only enough to prompt you.
2. Stay away from the inside jokes.
You're giving a speech to the whole room, so make sure you include everyone. If you and the bride are the only ones that will “get it,” save it for a different time. It's okay to tell a story and have to explain the context, but don't leave the crowd wondering what you're talking about.
3. Keep it lighthearted and fun.
The bride and her partner may have had their rocky moments. Every couple does. It's OK to acknowledge those times in passing, but don't linger. Keep the focus on the happy times and the joy that the couple experiences together.
4. If you can't say it without bawling, pick a different story.
It's okay to get a little teary-eyed. This is the wedding of someone who is really special to you, so of course, you'll be emotional. It's even OK if your voice catches a little while you're speaking. But if you start talking about how the bride held your hand at your mother's funeral and you completely break down ... it'll just be awkward. Make sure you can keep it together.
And while we're on the topic of keeping it together, for pity's sake, stay sober until after the speech. No one wants to listen to a maid of honor slur her words or bump repeatedly into the microphone. (Think about how awkward that one would be for the aforementioned elderly relatives.) There'll be plenty of time for that extra glass of champagne after you're out of the spotlight.
5. Be yourself.
Don't worry about what a maid of honor speech is “supposed” to sound like. The bride wants to hear from you – after all, she picked you out of all the women in her life to stand beside her on her big day. Celebrate the times you've shared and the years to come by offering a speech that sounds like you.
Call in the Pros
It's totally okay to not know what you're doing! Whether you're writing a maid of honor speech for Sister Susie or presenting your maid of honor speech for your best friend Jill, you want her special day to be the best ever. Don't be embarrassed to bring in outside help.
Compose.ly's speech writing services will match you with an experienced professional who will collect your ideas and turn them into something that sounds polished yet loving. And because it's personalized, it will sound like you and express your unique relationship, just as if you'd written it yourself. Then you can relax and enjoy the big day.
This post was written by Compose.ly writer Laura DeCesare.