Maybe you found out that your best friend got engaged when she FaceTimed you from Paris or perhaps weeks before when the groom needed your expert advice on the ring. Either way, the day has finally come, and to top it all off, she’s named you her maid of honor.
Not only is this a great honor (hence the name), but being MOH also comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s easy to get bogged down in not-so-trivial details like planning a bridal shower and/or the inevitable destination bachelorette party with a dozen of the bride’s closest friends. Then before you know it, you look up two weeks before her big day and remember, “Oh right. I have to give a speech too.”
Don’t freak out! Below, you’ll find a foolproof recipe, perfected from years of event-production experience, advice from seasoned friends and firsthand bridesmaid experience. Every speech that has followed this format has been followed by endless compliments throughout the reception — in other words, a total crowd-pleaser. Use these tips and you’re basically guaranteed to deliver a winner.
Timing is everything
Throughout your speech, it’s important to keep pacing in mind. Even with the best speeches, audiences will only be able to pay attention for about five minutes — but it’s best to keep your speech to around two to three minutes. Time yourself and practice. There are handy apps out there that can make this way easier. Keeping things short won’t just hold the guests’ attention; it’ll also help keep your talking points focused.
Keep it classy
Though this may seem obvious, it’s important to avoid content or behavior that reflects poorly on the bride. Though best man’s speeches often include a bit of roasting, avoid going this route for speeches about the bride unless you’re absolutely sure she’s the type who would appreciate it. This includes keeping away from the following topics: benders you went on together, previous hook-ups and any stories you wouldn’t want her boss and/or grandmother to hear. Additionally, keep pre-speech drinking to a minimum, i.e., a glass or two of wine for bravery (not six shots, which will guarantee a slurry speech).
Keep it together
This is your best friend’s wedding, so it’s normal that your emotions and love for her are all over the place that day. Crying is an occupational hazard of being an MOH (and wedding attendee in general). Even though it’s beautiful that your love and friendship could bring you to tears, do your best to keep it together. A tasteful tear is totally acceptable, a crack in the voice might perhaps be unavoidable, but a full-on sob-ridden meltdown is both difficult to recover from vocally and very awkward for most people to witness. The audience has already been processing the bride’s and groom’s emotions and vulnerability throughout the day, so it’s best not to throw any more into the mix.
A how-to formula for speech success
First: Introduce yourself & your friendship
Ladies, this can’t be stressed enough: Please introduce yourself! Even if you are the MOH of a 30-guest wedding and there’s a blurb about you on the wedding website, I can pretty much guarantee that a large number of people won’t know who you are or how you know the bride. A quick sentence or two with your name and relationship to the bride (years known, how you met) will help give your speech context.
Next: Highlight a character trait or aspect of the bride’s personality that you love
This is your best friend, so odds are, you’re going to know and love her better than most people in the room. As such, picking what you love most should be easy. Questions to inspire you: What’s something she’s always shown you? What’s something she’s taught you? What about her has changed you for the better? Illustrate this trait in a story if you can — if she’s particularly strong, what story best captures her strength? If she taught you how to be more compassionate, when did she do this especially well?
Then: Link this trait to the bride/groom’s relationship
Now that you’ve set the stage for how [insert characteristic here] your fantastic bestie and bride du jour is, it’s time to loop in/back to her new spouse (after all, this is a day celebrating them both)! An easy way to link to him/her would be to speak to how the they bring whatever characteristic you’ve highlighted out even more in the bride. Maybe the bride is passionate about giving back to her community and her partner helped her organize a Kickstarter for a foundation they both love. Or maybe it was their shared passion for giving back that led to them meeting during a day volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The link-back options are endlessly flexible, and the connection you draw shows that this thing you love about her runs through their love too.
Finally: Wrap up with a conclusion & toast
Now it’s time to raise a glass (literally and physically) to toast the new couple and conclude your speech. A helpful tactic here is to turn to speak directly to the bride’s partner and let them know how the characteristic and/or trait in your bestie will contribute to their love throughout their lives together. Is your friend particularly brave? Let her spouse know that whatever life will throw their way, she’ll always be there with them to face it. Is she an excellent problem-solver? Let them know she’ll be there with a solution to every curveball life throws. It’s OK to turn up the cheese-factor on this final statement — everyone will be feeling a little mushy by now. Then turn back to the room and have everyone join you in toasting to the new couple’s happiness.
Cheers, woman. You did it.