Your best friend is getting married, you’ve been asked to be her maid of honour, and you’re elated. It’s a chance to be alongside your BFF while they plan one of the happiest days of their life.
You’ll help the bride choose a dress, build a wedding gift list, book a venue, decide on a menu, organise an unforgettable hen party and provide indispensable support on the big day.
Oh, and as you’re so important to the couple, you’ve been asked to give a speech. On the most important day of someone else’s life. In front of a room full of emotional people. Most of whom you don’t know. You can see them now, a hundred deathly silent strangers staring at you in anticipation. Nerves kick in. Your mouth is already dry. Sweat is forming. The urge to run builds.
There’s really no need to panic though! We’ve got a two-part series on how to overcome writer’s block and anxiety to give a great speech at your best friend’s wedding.
Today we’re starting with the basics of how to put the speech itself together.
If you haven’t been struck by divine inspiration or given specific instructions, just go for a basic formula:
1. Acknowledge the guests, families, and those who made the day happen
2. Introduce yourself and explain how you know the bride
3. Tell a story about the couple, ideally funny, sentimental or both
4. Compliment the groom, ideally in a way which ties back into your anecdote
5. Offer some sagely wisdom if you have any to share
6. Express your well wishes for the future
7. Initiate a toast
8. Thank the audience, sit down and bask in the post-speech buzz
Don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines, but stick to a coherent spine for what you want to say.
Just make sure you don’t fall into a few common pitfalls when taking our advice:
Remember it’s not your big day
This isn’t your chance to get discovered as a stand-up comic, this is someone else’s wedding. Try not to get too impressed by how incredibly talented and clever your writing is and keep the couple in mind.
Pick your stories wisely
A funny story is always welcome, but there’s a fuzzy line between a mortifying story about the bride and a story about the bride which mortifies the audience. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to find a great story for your speech.
Don’t mention exes
It doesn’t matter how hilarious you are, or how many laughs you’ve shared in the past with the bride about her exes, you’re not funny enough to pull off your hilarious bit about Richard the plumber at her wedding.
Don’t rely on inside jokes
Not everyone else remembers how weird your year ten maths teacher was, or what happened on your gap year. If you’re mentioning really specific experiences, give the audience enough context to feel involved or don’t mention them at all.
Putting a bit of work in can create a great maid of honour speech, but we can’t turn you into Steve Jobs at a keynote. The couple asked you to speak, just be a great version of yourself.
Keep it short
Try and keep it under three minutes. It might not seem like a long time right now but trust us, once you’re up there it’ll feel like a month. Not to mention you won’t be the only speaker, so for the sake of the whole party keep it tight.
Keep quotes to less than ten words
If you desperately do need to quote someone, keep it to less than ten words. Also, please, for the sake of everyone in the room don’t go with “Love is patient…”.
In the next blog we’ll cover how even the most anxious maid of honour can overcome their nerves and turn in a great speech. View the blog here