So you got picked to be a maid of honor! Congratulations. Chances are, if you’re recently appointed to your role, you’re probably still adjusting to your awesome new title and potentially many and varied appointments and duties. Aka you haven’t even begun to think about delivering what is obviously going to be a five-star, ultra-stellar toast at the wedding reception. For some of you, this is NBD. You’re sitting there like, “Stephanie, I’ve got this. I’ve been mentally writing my maid of honor speech since the day my BFF and I met in second grade and she helped me get off the bus and I will finish it tonight, ten months before the wedding, and it will be perfection.” And that’s cool! Snaps to you. Please spread some of that gumption around. But for the rest of you who are like like, “OMG GIRL WHY DO I HAVE TO GIVE A SPEECH PUBLIC SPEAKING MAKES ME CRY I CAN’T DO IT WHAT DO I DO,” I got you.
So let’s break it down: In its simplest form, the maid of honor speech is one to four minutes wherein you will wax poetic about how much you love your BFF, how you can’t believe that she and her partner found each other but that they are so perfect together, and how you can’t wait to see what kind of life they will build together. You’ll throw in a few anecdotes (tales from summer camp or college, erring on the side of caution and eschewing details that no one except the two of you need to know). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll toast the couple, and it will be brilliant. But if any part of you is worried about how that might come together, I’ve got some very specific tips on how to make it happen:
don’t wait too long: I’m not saying you really need to prep for ten months. That’s way early. Ten minutes? No, no, let’s not do that. Instead, try to start writing your speech the month before the wedding so that you can practice on a friend (not the one who is getting married) or partner, and adjust as needed.
don’t worry about the best man: Best men have a rep for being… uncool during their speeches (truly, dudes, let’s avoid that), but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to dig deep and bring on tears if that’s not your style. If you want to be funny, be funny! Totally steal the best man’s thunder. It’s fine.
don’t treat it like a joke: That said, your maid of honor speech is not the time to try out your future career as a stand-up comedian. No one is expecting Maya Angelou to suddenly appear and speak through you, but they probably are expecting something heartfelt and sincere. So really consider the speech and take it seriously, even if humor is your vehicle of delivery.
Get personal: Obviously this is not the time to use every awful partner your friend has had as evidence for how excellent her chosen life-mate is, but it is the time to share a few personal stories. You’ll want to talk about how happy you are for the couple, how much as you knew your BFF was your BFF the second she traded shoe laces with you, you knew that her chosen partner was perfection when they showed up to her house wearing bacon-themed socks. You dig? After that, wrap it up nicely and sweetly, toast the couple, and have a seat.
when in doubt, use the formula: Just about everyone gets the jitters when they’re in front of a large group and have to speak—it’s fine! If you’re super freaked out, just use the formula:
In fact, here’s a sample maid of honor speech that follows the formula perfectly:
Haley and Rachel,
I love you both so much. Haley, not only for you being one of my best friends, but for being there for me when being my friend didn’t just involve late night Wal-Mart runs and hours of watching ’80s movies. We’ve grown up together and I am so very grateful that we did not grow apart. And Rachel, I love you, too, for not only being such an incredible partner for my Haley, but for being a great friend to me also. I know you didn’t expect that dating Haley would include helping her flaky friend after she locked her keys in the car three times in one month, but you are a doll for doing so with a smile and only laughing at me a little.
However, what I love most about the two of you is how you are together. I’ve never seen two people that fit so well in each other’s lives; it’s hard to imagine a time when you weren’t “Haley and Rachel.” It may seem to some like you two were just meant to be and that fate put you together, but I think to look at it that way diminishes how amazing your relationship really is.
Having been there from the beginning, I know that what appeared to be seamless was the effort of two people who truly loved one another and were determined to make their relationship work. They didn’t just magically fit into each other’s lives; they rearranged their lives to make room. They changed priorities, made time for one another and learned to love each other’s little quirks… like Rachel’s not-so-secret love of R&B vocalists.
But nothing shows this as much as Haley, Rachel, and the hockey debacle. You see, when they started dating, Rachel noticed that Haley had a framed Gretsky jersey in her living room. And, deciding to play it cool, Rachel started asking Haley if she wanted to go to local hockey games and watching the latest game on TV just so she’d have something to talk about to Haley the next time they chatted. Haley, oblivious to all of this, thought Rachel really liked hockey so she enlisted my brother to teach her more about the game. Because, you see, Haley never watched hockey. The jersey belonged to her Uncle Mike, and Aunt Laura gave it to her as a reminder of him after he passed away. Meanwhile, both my brother and Rachel are pretending to know more about hockey than they actually do and were starring in their own sports-themed comedy of errors.
Eventually, they figured it out… and by eventually I mean seven months later. However, once these two worked on their communication skills, they had a new favorite hobby to do together… and further proof that Uncle Mike really is watching over Haley. AND, he’s bound and determined that she marry a hockey lover!
And it only goes to show not only how goofy these two are for each other, but how much they truly are committed to being in each other’s lives. Your love makes us smile, makes us tear up with joy and makes us believe in the kind of love cynics would make you feel is impossible. Thank you for being an inspiration and my friends.
To Haley and Rachel! (everybody drinks)
Have you ever written or heard a truly great maid of honor speech? What works—and what doesn’t?