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I was asked to be my baby sister’s Maid of Honor on a Sunday in December exactly five months before her wedding. She popped the question in the laundry room of our mother’s home and the hum of the washer and dryer couldn’t keep rhythm with my excitement. But then I thought, “Maid of Honor comes with a Maid of Honor speech!”
Excitement Turned Scattered Mental Chatter:
- “How long is my speech supposed to be?”
- “What things am I ‘allowed’ to talk about? And what’s a ‘no-go?’
- “How am I going to be able to talk on her fiance when I have so many more memories with my sister?”
- “Is there anyone I can call on for help with writing this?”
- “I’ve never been a bridesmaid, let alone a Maid of Honor; where do I even begin?
It was a 2 month whirlwind of questioning, typing, and coffee but I made my first (and best) Maid of Honor Speech and am here to share my list of 10 Steps to help you write the most personal and heartfelt Maid Of Honor speech ever.
1. Abide By General Rules of Speech Formation
- Start writing at least 3 weeks before the wedding (it took me 2 months to perfect mine)
- Do not bring up their ex’s or drunken nights
- Do not curse. Confession: I intentionally said “Damn” once
- Do not use inside jokes; they leave the other guests confused & they may start asking questions to neighboring friends during your speech if they felt they’ve missed something
- Do not mention the high divorce rate
- Avoid comments / memories that could cause tension between either the bride and groom, parents of the bride or groom, or the attendees
- Avoid cliches; they never summarize the special marriage you’ve come together to celebrate
- Length depends on your comfort ability giving speeches and your writing ability
- Most commonly between 2 – 5 minutes long
- Mine was 9 minutes long but if it is written, organized, and presented well, family and friends will not mind and most likely will start to interact at key points
2. Gather Memories
This can be from any source that has a collection of information you personally kept or posted. Here are some examples for information inspiration:
- Journal Entries: I personally have been keeping a journal since 2009 so I had the advantage when it came to specific moments in time dealing with my sister & her fiance. If this isn’t applicable to you, move on to “Instagram Posts.”
- Instagram Posts: Swipe through their profiles on Instagram and write a little list of recurring values or hobbies, memories they have posted whether with each other or with you, and any nostalgia you felt while looking at old photos or videos throughout the years.
- General characteristics that comes to mind when you think of either the bride or groom. This is the most important part of the “Research” because it will illicit the most up-to-date, current emotions regarding the newlyweds. Here is an excerpt from my Maid of Honor Speech formulated around the single characteristic of “Generosity”
Alone, you have always been one of thee most generous people I have ever met. Now I’m not talking, “here let me lend you a hand,” I’m talking you could call her up saying you’re anxious at a location an hour away or that your old car broke down in the middle of the road in below freezing temperatures, and she would be there. It might not be in the time frame she outlined (probably because she has to finish up helping the person before you) but she will be there.
3. Follow an Outline
Once you have all the information you need; it’s time to organize it. I personally followed this outline below. Start by typing up the title to each portion of the speech into a document (Introduction, Bride, etc.). Then, one by one move the collected memories to be under the respectable section given the criteria described for each below. Then, turn it into sentences… paragraphs… a speech.
- Introduction (1 Paragraph)
- Show appreciation to those who made it to the wedding and thanks those who helped prepare the beautiful event (bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, etc.)
- Tell the audience who you are & how you know the bride
- If you’re comfortable, tell a joke to set the mood for your speech
- Bride (2 Paragraphs)
- How did you meet the bride? Or a story that exemplifies your friendship / sisterhood? Or do you two share a bond over something? Write about it.
- Talk about memories of the bride whether from your perspective or a general public perspective. Be sentimental.
- When I think of the bride I think of…
- Groom (2 Paragraphs)
- How did you meet the groom? First memory you recall with him? Best memory you have had with him?
- When I think of the groom I think of…
- Describe why he has your blessing to be your sister / friend’s “person” (even if it means replacing you as that person).
- Couple (2-3 Paragraphs)
- Talk about how they compliment one another. How the things the bride is not good at are balanced by what the groom is good at.
- Talk about the love between them that you have witnessed. Is there a memory you can share that will make it clear you’ve witnessed their true love first hand.
- Advice to Groom (1 -2 Paragraphs)
- At the end of the day, you main job as the Maid of Honor is to take care of the bride; make sure she gets a plate of food, her dress doesn’t take a dip in the toilet, and that you can make her laugh when called upon by the photographer. I think this care-for attitude should include making sure her husband knows how to do so too.
- How can the groom be the best husband to someone like the bride?
- My personal advice went as so:
Here is my expert, marriage-saving advice from the unwed, but wise older sister who loves you both dearly (even more so together). If you have to drive away, make sure it is to buy her ice cream. Even if $5 doesn’t fit into the budget; even if you have to pay in all quarters. Even (ESPECIALLY) if you’re mad at her. She is worth it. That damn ice cream is worth it. And this marriage is worth it. Right?
4. End it With a Toast & State the Bride’s New Last Name
Make it clear when it is time to cheer, hoop and holler, clink glasses, and/or throw confetti. This is the part where the audience gets to show “Hey, I agree with everything you said & I want to show the Bride and Groom we are over-the-moon for them.”
Now, everybody could you please join me in raising a glass to the happily, newly married, young lovers, Mr. and Mrs. Joshua and Brianna S——.
5. Take Out Unnecessary Details
In the beginning stages of my speech I was under the impression I would start with the beginning stages of my sister and her high school sweetheart’s relationship. It started as so:
October 5, 2015. It was a Monday just like any other for me working on my homework for my Physiology of Large Animal course but for Brianna it was anything but…
Why did I need to include the course I was working on? Does this add anything to who the bride and groom are as a couple? Will it maybe become important later in the speech? No. No. And no.
It was omitted. As should any detail that does not serve the purpose of the speech: to make the happy new couple feel seen and appreciated by their hand selected Maid of Honor.
Just the same, if you are writing about something that does serve a purpose to the speech, only share the important content, not unnecessary descriptions. It doesn’t matter that you saw Phil Vassar together in a rinky dink theater in Sellersville.
You aren’t writing a book, you are expressing a feeling.
6. Don’t Trail Off
The guests want to be considerate to who is speaking. If they believe the off-topic story is important to you, they will listen. But if “the point” doesn’t come quick enough, they may strain to see its relevance and lose interest. Only tell stories that have relevance to the marriage today.
If you trail off for too long, you will be the only one following. You follow me? This may mean re-wording long-winded stories in a way that doesn’t take so long. Be concise.
7. Read Your Speech to a Friend & Record it
I have a good friend who had a whole recording system passed down to him and when I asked if I could read my speech to him, he asked if he could record it. We recorded my reading as well as the hour and a half conversation following so I could have his feedback to listen back on when I went to make the appropriate edits.
- Give Them a Piece of Paper and a Pen. They can write whatever they want. “Change this,” “I didn’t understand this,” etc.
- Don’t Let Them See it as You Read It; no one else at the wedding would be able to read as you spoke, so have them focus on how you present it. This is especially important since you may use grammar to help dictate intonation in presenting it, even though grammatically it is not correct
- Don’t Critique Yourself as you are reading it the first time through to someone. You may just be bringing to their attention things they wouldn’t have noticed on their own.
- Once it has been read aloud and initial opinions were shared, set them up with a visual of the speech so they can go through step-by-step with you. Copy and paste the exact same speech into a new document to be shared so changes can be made by your friend but you’ll still have the original if you’d want to go back to it.
- Take Their Creative Criticism with Grace; be thankful they are giving you a guide of how a guest will perceive your writing. Have a growth mindset, not a fixed.
- Questions to Ask Your Friend Once Finished:
- Was that too long? Too short? Were you bored?
- Was I using superfluous content?
- Do you think it’s sappy enough?
- Were there any specific spots when I was reading that you want to say something but wanted to wait until I was finished reading?
- Do you like the fact that I say…? Did you understand what I was getting at when I said…?
- Do you think you’re being as critical as I need or how much you think I can handle?
8. Questions to Ask Yourself When You Think You’re “Finished”
I was lucky enough to have a wonderful friend help in chiseling my original speech. If you aren’t so lucky I have comprised a list of all the questions he had asked me during our close to 2 hour recorded conversation
- Where do you want to go from there?
- What is the amount of time you are looking to be speaking for?
- Have you ever been to a wedding? Do you remember the Maid of Honor speeches?
- Have you talked to (insert name of mutual friend who was a Maid of Honor before) about this? They can give you tips on how they created their speech and could share very helpful incite.
- I liked the tying back into previously mentioned content, but is there a way to do it without being out of order?
- Where will you be standing in relation to the bride and groom when presenting your speech? Are there any points during your speech that physical touch with the bride or groom could be beneficial, funny, sentimental, etc.? Don’t force it but if it feels right, do it.
- What’s the point of this section? (Ask yourself this before each section). If your answer brings light to something meaningful that wasn’t reflected in the section, revisit and add it in
- Tell me about their relationship? How do they handle frustrations? Level-minded? How do they help each other? Willingly?
- Do you think that what is written accurately conveys what you feel about the bride/groom/their relationship? If not, change it.
- Are you toasting?
9. A “Fresh Start” Exercise:
For this exercise, lose the speech you have in your mind right now. Don’t delete; we will come back. Try “starting from scratch with raw emotion.”
Record a Maid of Honor speech with nothing in front of you (including the speech you’ve been working on). You can take long pauses in between but don’t pause the recording, delete, and restart. Once you get the ball rolling, you may start to say things about the bride, groom, or couple that may not have entered your mind and ultimately your speech yet. Try not to spend the recording remembering what you wrote in the one you’ve been working on. Try and have a “fresh start, spoken speech.” Once you have finished, you may have more, from-the-heart material to add to the speech you’ve been working on.
Questions to try & keep in mind while free-formulating your speech:
- What do you want to say to the bride & groom?
- What do you want to say to the audience about them?
- What’s the thesis? What’s the purpose? – I personally wanted to hit on the fact that they are young, while making people laugh, and talking about how good the bride and groom are for each other
10. Mean Every Last Word
The most magnificent part of being asked to be a Maid of Honor is knowing there is a reason you were picked to be that person. Whether because you have the most memories with the bride or because you’re the bride’s strongest childhood facet, there was a meaningful reason you were chosen as one of the two VIPs in the bride and groom’s wedding day.
Use that. As long as you mean every last word, even if not perfectly written, you will accomplish exactly what all speeches should set out to do: show your love for the relationship that is now bonded forever as well as the two people it encompasses. Well done, I’ll toast to that.
Above is the a video of the Maid of Honor speech I wrote for my sister’s wedding. If you enjoy it, these “10 Steps to Writing a Personal and Heartfelt Maid of Honor Speech” were written using my course of action and speech as a guideline. Thank you for watching / reading & good luck in writing your beautiful account of beautiful people,
What is, or was, the hardest part in writing your Maid of Honor Speech?