Have you been asked to be a maid of honour, and therefore must embark upon writing your maid of honour speech? If the answer is yes, you're in the right place. Being a maid of honour has many, many perks. Watching and helping someone close to you on their big day is probably the best of those perks. Assisting with the wedding dress, the hair, the hen party, and all of the in-betweens a close second. Rarely, however, do people think of the speech as a perk. Writing and giving a speech can be nerve-wracking for the best of us. That's why we thought we'd help out, with a guide on how to write a fantastic maid of honour speech! Don't worry, we're certainly not novices in this department - our article on groom's speeches proves that.

Maid of honour speech - what it is, what to include, and what to avoid

What is a maid of honour speech?

For those of you who may not know, a maid of honour essentially serves as the chief bridesmaid. Organising, assisting and essentially being an ever-present figure of support. There are many other responsibilities that the MOH must undertake, but we're focusing on the speech element today. The maid of honour speech follows that of the bride, close to the end of the speech order.

How long should the speech be?

If you're worried about filling up time, fret no longer. Luckily for you, a maid of honour speech really doesn't need to be that long. Aim for about 2-4 minutes, without going over the 5-minute mark. Short and sweet, that's the name of the game! Of course, if you've got a lot to say and feel more comfortable in speech-making, do your thing. Just make sure you read the room!

What should the speech include?

The reason you have been chosen as maid of honour is most likely because of your close relationship to the bride. The guests are going to want to hear about that relationship! How you met, and why you're so close. Personal anecdotes about the bride are warmly welcomed, too. However, try to steer clear of any memories that may paint the bride in a less family-friendly way. Drunken nights spent at university are great over a glass of wine, but maybe not to her grandparents. Your toast should remain positive, light and sincere.

To joke or not to joke?

Now, that is the question. When people think of wedding speeches, one often associates them with overly-crafted, three-minute-long punchlines. The line between a standup gig and a wedding speech is nowadays very blurred, but it doesn't have to be! To answer the above question, the amount of jokes you have in your speech is up to you, in consideration. If you're a natural comic and feel comfortable in front of an audience, then A) I wish I were you, and B) fit in as many jokes as seems appropriate. No matter how funny you are, though, it's best to scatter the jokes sporadically. Give the guests a chance to breathe in between laughing! However, if you don't feel as comfortable, then don't worry about it. Your maid of honour speech doesn't have to include a multitude of jokes. A straightforward and sincere speech will be greatly received. At the end of the day, the most important box to tick is that the bride feels special. As long as you do that, you can rest assured you've done a great job.

General structure

For a fairly basic skeleton for a maid of honour speech, look no further.

  1. Introduction
    Start off by introducing yourself! Say hello, thank everyone, and let the guests know how you know the bride in question.
  2. Bride time
    The reason you are giving this speech in the first place is because of the bride - so give her some limelight! Talk about why you two are so close. Try to avoid empty sentences like "she's very nice" without giving reason afterwards. People aren't interested in adjectives, they want to know the details! Share a story about why she's nice, adventurous, funny, etc.
  3. Groom time
    Now it's time to give the groom some love, too. Say some nice things about him, and talk about your version of how they met. What was her first impression, did you see this coming from the get-go? Then go on to explain why he is a great match for the bride - we all love a bit of a romantic story now and then.
  4. Couple time
    Then, talk about the two of them together. Why they're so good together, that you're incredibly happy for them, and how their lives are about to change, but for fantastic reasons.
  5. Advice and toast
    To finish off your fantastic speech, some people opt for giving a bit of advice. This can be fairly basic, like simply wishing them great things for the future. If you're a wise owl-like friend, then feel free to offer some marriage- or life-related dictums. Finally, raise your glass. "Here's to the happy couple", you say - take a sip, and you're done. Woohoo! Well done.

Things to avoid in your maid of honour speech

As I have aforementioned, your speech is just that; yours. You can do with it what you wish. However, we do have some general tips of what to avoid.

  1. In-jokes
    Inside jokes that only involve the two of you are adorable, but sort of alienate everybody outside you both. Leave the in-jokes for when it's just you and the bride together, otherwise you might lose the audience's interest.
  2. Exes, drunken nights...
    We've touched on this already, but there are certain topics that are best to avoid in your MOH speech. Potentially the most important topic to miss out on is that of exes. No matter how funny the story, a wedding is not the time to bring up ex-boyfriends, or god forbid, ex-fiances.
  3. Anec-don't go overboard
    Everyone loves an anecdote. There is a limit, however. When your speech is no longer a speech but instead simply fourteen anecdotes in a row, that's when people start to get a bit bored. One or two good stories well told is the best formula, in our humble opinions.

Final pieces of advice

We're nearing the end of our guide to writing your maid honour speech. Before we go, though, we've got some final (hopefully) helpful tips.

Firstly, practice makes perfect. There is absolutely no shame in rehearsing your speech in front of either a mirror or a friend. The benefits of a friend do outweigh those of a mirror if you're wanting some feedback, though. Knowing your speech well enough to maintain eye contact with the audience for a fair amount of it (looking back at your notes to jog your memory every now and then) is great. It makes the whole event more personable and connected.

Secondly, less is more. Don't go over the top with any aspect of it. Wedding guests are there for a good time, so there's really no need to take away from that. Keep your speech short and sweet, the anecdotes and tearful memories infrequent, and in-jokes at bay.

Finally, try not to scare yourself. Whether you're a speech master or a complete novice, this will only be about 4 minutes of the entire day. I'm no mathematician, but statistically speaking, that's not a lot at all. The bride knows well that the maid of honour must give a speech - so they have faith in you that you will succeed. And succeed you will! Just picture your ice cold drink and dancing shoes waiting for you at your table once you've finished, and the actual speech will go by in no time. You might even enjoy it!

Maid of honour speech - done and dusted!

And just like that, your speech is complete, and you can enjoy yourself and the wedding fully. We really hope this guide has helped you in any part of the writing process. Although the maid of honour is an incredibly important part of a wedding, we have seen a rise of the best woman, too. So if that's more your thing, then fantastic. The idea of best woman and maid of honour has also made the rounds in terms of where they stand from a feminist standpoint. That's why we've got a podcast episode on whether having a feminist wedding is possible, too.

Sasha Kirkham

Written by Sasha Kirkham

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