Wedding speeches are an important part of any reception, and done when well can bring the whole crowd together. But speeches done badly, can leave people cringing. For anyone tasked with being a speechgiver, there’s a lot of anticipation leading up to taking the mic, and more than likely a lot of effort has gone into writing the speech. And we’re very glad to see more ladies stepping up to the mic to give a speech these days (woot, woot!), especially bridesmaids and maids of honour, who have probably done a tonne of work in the lead up to the big day. Aside from the fun, it can also be an incredibly moving experience, and we want you to put your best, well-heeled foot forward. So here are our dos and don’ts to ensure your Maid of Honour speech is memorable for all the right reasons.
DO: Introduce Yourself
A great way to get the ball rolling is simply to introduce yourself. Don’t assume everyone knows who you are. It’s nice to give everyone a brief summary of how you know the bride, as it sets the tone of your relationship. Even better if your first encounter with the bride happens to be a funny story. But we stress the word brief – this speech is not about you and the focus should remain on the happy couple.
DON’T: Rush It
A really good speech , even one that seems off the cuff, is often the result of a lot of thought and prep. Write it well in advance, and not the night before the wedding, to give you plenty of time to edit your speech, time yourself, and practice or ask for advice. Chances are you’ve known the bride for a very long time, so there will be a lot of memories to unpack and things you want to say. But unfortunately time won’t allow for that, so editing your speech is essential. Take your time, and start jotting down ideas early on, even if it’s just on the notes app on your phone.
DO: Make Eye Contact
Looking up is the single most important piece of advice we can give you! There is nothing worse than watching a speech where the speaker is glued to their notes. No matter how tear-jerking or hilarious your speech is, your words will be lost if you don’t make eye contact and speak to the room. Try to have bullet points, that you’ve practiced expanding on, rather than a full speech in front of you, so you’re not tempted to keep looking down.
DON’T: Be Drunk
We probably don’t need to say this, but just in case… go easy on the bubbly at the the drinks reception, ya hear! There’s a fine line between Dutch courage and ‘Taxi!’…
DO: Avoid Controversial Topics
If there is any doubt in your mind that something in your speech might not land well, it is always better to play it safe. You and the bride are likely to have a back catalogue of risqué stories. However, it might not be appropriate to share them on this particular occasion, especially if there are little, or parental, ears in the room. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from humour altogether, but it’s better to keep it PG. Also, avoid discussing ex-partners, it’s a surefire way to kill the mood. Likewise veer away from money, sex, politics, or religion. Remember, what some people consider funny, could be offensive to others.
DON’T: Try Be a Comedian
A great speech will hit a variety of notes. Imagine you’re a wedding DJ – you’re not going to play the same tempo music the whole time, you need to mix it up. You want the guests to experience a range of emotions so it doesn’t get boring. For instance: An emotional anecdote could be followed by a lighter, more humourous story. Everyone appreciates a little comic relief, but at the same time, no one is expecting you to be a comedian. Trying too hard to be funny can come across as forced, and make people uncomfortable. Also, avoid in-jokes which will leave other guests confused.
DO: Seek Advice
Although you’re the one who is giving the speech, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask others for help. Sometimes an outside perspective can make a real difference. A fresh set of ears can pinpoint areas that don’t necessarily work or might need improvement, or more or less detail. You can always speak to the bride herself before you start writing in case there stories or topics that are off limits.
DON’T: Go On Too Long
Don’t give a long-winded speech. Our attention spans are declining by the minute (thank you social media!) so you’re better off keeping it tight and to the point.
Here’s a simple example of how to structure your maid of honour speech:
- Introduce yourself, then begin with a funny story about you and the bride.
- Mention a time when the bride helped you through a difficult situation, thus demonstrating what a good friend she is
- Talk about the first time she met the groom. It’s always a good idea to say you knew there was something different or special about him from the get-go.
- Recall the moment you knew they were made for each other with a sweet/emotional story.
- Finish by declaring how happy you are for the couple and wish them a lifetime of happiness.
- Sign off with a toast.
DO: Practice Your Delivery
Now that you’ve finished writing your speech, it’s time to focus on your delivery. What looks good on paper may not sound great out loud. Concentrate on your pace with pauses for laughter where appropriate, speaking a little more slowly than usual, as we tend to talk fast when we’re nervous. Rehearse your speech standing, or even walking around, preferably with a fake microphone to get a feel for it. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll be on the day. Lastly, print your speech on paper – it’s classier than reading from a phone.
DON’T: Be Afraid to Show Emotion
When your closest girlfriend or family member gets married, it’s a milestone moment. You might find yourself becoming emotional, especially when telling her and a room full of people how much she means to you. Expressing emotion in public isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you do feel yourself becoming teary, embrace it. This can really add to the sentiment of the moment, and you’ll more than likely hear a few sniffles coming from the guests too.
DO: Have Fun!
Last but not least, enjoy the moment and have faith in yourself. The bride obviously chose you to give a maid of honour speech for a reason. Remember, everyone in the room is going to be rooting for you, so take a deep breath, and go for it! Just picture the large glass of prosecco you will have earned when it’s all over.
We have lots of great tips on speeches below:
Listen and subscribe to the One Fab Day wedding podcast. We have a whole episode on Wedding Speeches to help you out!