As a three-time “Man-of-Honour”, this is the blog that should come easiest to Speechy’s Shai Hussain (not once been invited to be a Best Man but that’s a story for another blog!).
The Maid of Honour speech is sadly underrated, with many unfairly rejecting it as ‘not as funny as the Best Man’ or ‘dull emotional outbursts’. Also true is that most of the people who think these things are misogynists who boycott Taapsee Pannu films for the sheer audacity of empowering women.
As most of us already know, women are hilarious, emotive, and fun – and as the bride’s chuddi buddy or sister, you know this. So here’s your opportunity to share with a room of the bride’s closest loved ones (and a couple of hundred strangers who the couple’s parents invited through sheer obligation) what it is about the bride that you love so much.
You’ve been specially chosen to paint a strong picture of the lady of the moment to a crowd longing to get to know that person a little bit better.
SPEECH ETIQUETTE / LENGTH
Nothing kills a speech quicker than going on and on. And on. So we advise keeping your timing short – between 5 and 8 minutes is the magic spot.
With Asian weddings, there’s often a long list of people who want to wax lyrical about the happy couple. Since your speech will likely be in the middle of the running order, it’s especially important to try and keep things concise. Don’t feel like you have to summarise the whole of your friendship history or include all your favourite stories of your time together. Your only job is to tell your friend how fabulous she is and entertain the guests at the same time.
You don’t need to thank anyone. That’s the newlywed’s job!
YOUR SPEECH STRUCTURE
The basic job of a maid of honour speech is telling the guests how wonderful the bride is and why you’re best friends/close sisters. You obviously want to wish her well with her future marriage and it’s also good if you can make the guests laugh and tell them some stories that they don’t already know!
It’s a given that you’ll compliment the bride on how amazing she looks but you also need to pay tribute to the groom too even if she is way out of his league.
So here’s the plan…
INTRO – Start by introducing yourself and how you know the bride.
Then, cut the chronology and dive straight into something funny. This could be about the wedding prep or a humorous insight into the bride.
Do NOT resort to any ‘wedding gags’ you’ve found on Google. Keep your humour original.
CREATE A THEME – Your speech will mainly be made up of good stories and insights but instead of simply retelling your classic anecdotes, see if you can find a theme that links them all. Creating some sort of narrative puts your speech into the premier league.
A theme could simply play on one of the bride’s most recognisable characteristics – for example, how unlucky the bride usually is, or ditsy, or competitive.
Or maybe it could be based on her occupation. If she’s a teacher, what has she taught you over the years (the good, the bad, and the ugly!), or maybe your speech can ask why exactly it took the high-powered recruitment exec so long to head-hunt the man of her dreams!? You get the idea.
Once you have a solid theme, you should find it relatively simple to connect all your favourite stories, for example, “If you thought that was brave of her, you’ll never believe what job Madhu did straight out of uni…!”
SENTIMENT – Of course, as well as all the fun anecdotes, your speech has to have a big old dose of sentiment in it. We suggest this is more powerful toward the latter third of the speech so you’re concluding with the mushy bit.
Make sure you avoid cliches. Instead, talk about what makes the bride truly stand out as an individual and as a friend/sister.
Don’t pretend she’s the perfect princess, love her for the friend she really is!
Prove, don’t tell. Instead of telling everyone that she’s kind and caring, tell them about the time she came round to your flat at midnight with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s just because she thought you were a bit miserable. What a gal.
CONCLUSION – Finally, make sure you pay a heartfelt (but concise) tribute to the groom and give him some advice on keeping the bride happy in their future life together.
A good tip; have two serious pieces of advice and end with a humorous one. That’s guaranteed to make you sound suitably thoughtful without being pompous.
THE RIGHT TONE
It’s likely your speech will be wedged in the middle of the running order, maybe after the Best Man, which can often be a hard act to follow. Their speech is usually the most outrageous, which can be great but can also be seriously cringeworthy.
Whatever the case, don’t feel the pressure to either live up to that previous speech or to win back the crowd if their speech just alienated the entire room.
Your tone depends on you as an individual. Unless you have the acting chops of Shabana Azmi, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. While we always advise adding humour to a maid of honour speech, if you’re naturally a person of few words, play to your strengths; make every word count, and accentuate those pauses. Of course, if you have the high intensity of Alia Bhatt, let out that speech like a machine gun.
With Asian weddings, the tone is often quite conservative, so if you’re planning controversial material that could make the nanas and dadis blush, it may be best to check it over with the bride first. Okay, it may land fantastically with the college friends, but there are things that the couple’s parents would really rather not know. As hilarious as Simran’s drunken escapades around Bangkok might be, this may not be the time or place to share those stories.
Delivery is half the battle when giving a great speech.
One of the best ways to avoid the biggest speech pitfall is, rather predictably, to practice. A lot.
Having notes on the night is perfectly fine, but nothing keeps attention more than eye contact with the audience. Keep nerves at bay by knowing where you’d like to place your pauses, and being super familiar with the story you want to tell. You’ll be able to emote authentically and read off the notes as if you’re Chitti 4.0.
Once you have your speech written, record yourself and watch/listen back to see what works, and amend or remove anything that isn’t working.
Try out your speech on a friend and get their feedback on anything that might not hit the mark. If they don’t get a line or you have to explain the joke, then it clearly doesn’t work.
Finally, on the day, our top advice is simply to smile and enjoy it. A smile is literally infectious and if you look like you’re having fun, others will too!