Your best friend is getting married, and she’s asked you to be her maid of honor—one of the most meaningful and important roles in helping your best friend bring her wedding daydreams to life. With this honor comes a number of important duties, and at the top of that list is delivering the maid of honor speech.
The maid of honor speech traditionally takes place at the wedding reception, but it’s possible you might deliver it at the rehearsal dinner. Regardless of when the speech will take place, it’s best to get started writing it at least three weeks before the wedding day. After all, a meaningful maid of honor speech isn’t something you can write up on your phone the morning of the wedding—it requires some thought, preparation, and maybe a round of edits or two.
If the task of giving a moving speech to a room full of people feels a bit nerve-wracking, don’t panic. We’ve broken down everything you need to know to craft the perfect speech from start to finish, along with how to keep your nerves at bay when it comes time to deliver it.
You don’t need to be a professional writer or orator to create a meaningful maid of honor speech. Use the tips below to get an idea of what to include and get an idea of the overall structure of a solid speech.
Begin your speech by introducing yourself and your relationship with the bride. Then, share a word of thanks for those who had a hand in planning the wedding—the bride’s family, the groom’s family, and anyone else who you feel should be mentioned.
Now it’s time to get personal about the bride and your history together. You might share an anecdote about how you two met, what her friendship has meant to you over the years, or any other endearing story that illustrates why she’s so special. It’s best to focus this section of the speech on the bride before her partner came into the picture, which you can lead into in the next section.
Now is a good time to discuss the bride’s spouse. While you’re certainly the designated right-hand woman to the bride, remember that the focus of a maid of honor speech should be on celebrating the couple, the beauty of their relationship and their future together as newlyweds.
When thinking about what to say about her partner, you can share any number of special sentiments that you feel illustrate who they are and what they mean to the bride. You also might decide to talk about what you love about her partner, mention their greatest characteristics, or share a story about how much he or she means to the bride.
While the last section focuses on the bride’s partner as an individual, use this section to talk about who they are as a couple. If you’re close friends with both partners, you might have some special memories to share looking back on the journey of their relationship. If not, you might talk about the impact the bride’s partner has had on her and how you saw her grow as their bond grew over time. Whatever you choose to speak about, be sure to keep the focus on the beauty of their relationship.
As you near the end of your speech, try closing with a word of encouragement or advice for the couple and their future together as newlyweds. After all, the whole point of the maid of honor speech is to celebrate the couple! You might include an inspirational quote or poem if you feel like it fits, but be sure to keep it short and sweet to avoid a long-winded reading.
The closing of your speech should be short and sweet—simply share a closing remark to commemorate the happy couple. Then, invite the guests to raise their glasses in a toast to the newlyweds.
While the steps above are helpful in nailing the structure of your speech, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind that will help you write a compelling and meaningful speech.
Before you even attempt to write your speech, it’s a good idea to carve out some time to simply think and reflect. This can help kick off the creative process and get you into the right headspace as you ideate what you might want to include. Spend this time reflecting on the memories you share with the bride, and try to pinpoint any ideas or emotions that come to mind when you think of her. This way, you come away with a road map of all the major points you want to touch on in your speech.
As you’re planning your speech, it’s helpful to define your overall objective before you dive into the nitty gritty details and stories you’ll share. Think about the goal you want your speech to accomplish: is it to make the wedding guests laugh, cry, maybe both? Is the couple known for their sense of humor? Perhaps you add some comedic flair to your speech.
If you’ve been through a lot with the bride or want to touch on some more serious memories, perhaps you craft your speech to be more emotionally moving. In the end, defining your objective will help you find the direction your speech will take.
If you have a ton of history with the bride, you might have a miles-long list of heartwarming stories you want to share. However, one key to a compelling speech is keeping it short and sweet. A standard maid of honor speech should only be three to four minutes long, and you don’t want to risk boring the guests or taking the focus off of the celebration. To avoid this, choose one or two must-have memories or anecdotes that you know you want to include, and nix the rest.
Along with keeping things short and sweet, another key to writing a compelling maid of honor speech is to tell it like a story. Any story worth hearing has a defined beginning, middle and end. While you’re in control of the details that fill the story, you want to ensure that every detail aligns with the main point of your speech. Whatever you talk about should clearly tie back to the overall focus of the speech, which is celebrating the bond the couple shares and wishing them well for their new future together.
The bride chose you as her maid of honor for a reason, so you shouldn’t feel like you have to be anything but yourself when you give your speech. Throw off any pressure you might feel to sound a certain way if it doesn’t ring true to you and your connection with the bride. A great maid of honor speech is about speaking openly and honestly about the bride and her partner—remember to write in the same way you’d speak to avoid sounding stiff or robotic.
If you feel like you need to memorize your speech word for word, don’t! Instead, focus on practicing your speech in the weeks leading up to the wedding day. This way, the main points will be well committed to your memory and you won’t need to memorize it line by line. However, it’s still helpful to use a bulleted list of the main points when it’s time to give your speech—this way you don’t have to worry about losing track mid-speech.
When you’re practicing your speech, make sure you’re practicing out loud so you can get a feel for the overall flow and rhythm of what you plan to say. It’s also helpful to read it aloud to a friend or the other bridesmaids to get some outside perspective on how your speech sounds and any tweaks that might help it shine.
Your maid of honor speech should be authentic and personal, and there’s a number of directions you might choose to take your speech in. If you’re stuck on where to begin, the template below is a great starting point to give you an idea of the general structure and flow of a maid of honor speech. Fill it in with your own words to personalize it according to you and your unique relationship with the bride!
“Hello everyone, I’m [name] and [bride’s name] maid of honor. I met [bride’s name] X years ago when [how you met]. When [bride] and I became friends, it was [personal anecdote about your relationship with the bride]. I’ll never forget [personal memory between you and the bride].
When [partner’s name] came into the picture, [personal anecdote about how you met their partner]. [Partner’s name] was [personal anecdote about the partner’s characteristics or favorite memory].
Watching their relationship grow over time has been [personal sentiments about the couple’s bond. I’ll always remember how [personal anecdote about the journey of their relationship]. Ever since then, I’ve seen [bride’s name].
It’s a privilege to join with you all in honoring the marriage of [bride] and [partner], and I know I speak for everyone when I say we’re thrilled to stand by your side today and support you both as you enter your new life together. If there’s one piece of advice I’d share, it’s [word of advice or encouragement for the newlyweds]. Thank you both for showing us what it means to love unconditionally. Please raise a glass to [bride] and [partner]! May you two never stop loving each other, growing together, and showing up for each other today and every day. Cheers!”
Whether this is your first wedding speech or your 20th, feelings of nervousness are normal! With some dedicated time and practice (and a few deep breaths beforehand) you’ll be more than ready to nail your maid of honor speech. All that really matters is that your words come from the heart. After all, the couple might not remember every single word you share, but they’ll always remember the love and care that went into it.