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Maid of Honour Speech

Maid of Honour Speech Advice

We love a maid of honour speech. Boom! That’s the best man blown right out of the water.

Of course, being asked to give a maid of honour speech is a bit of a ‘responsibility’. An honour, hell yeah, but a shed load of pressure too.

Entertaining a room full of strangers, some elderly relatives and a load of drunken mates can be scary. But follow our advice and you’ll deliver a speech that will leave the best man weeping.*

* Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out our maid of honour template, speech edit service, or bespoke service

Or, work with our new AI-powered team member –SpeechyAI! 

Maid of Honour Speech Etiquette

Maid of Honour etiquette isn’t overly complicated. 

There’s no need to be overly posh or formal just because you’re wearing a fancy dress, and you don’t need to address everyone as ‘ladies & gentleman’; a simple ‘well, hello everyone’ will be fine. 

You don’t have to thank anyone and there’s no official toast to adhere to. 

Your job is simply to let your best friend know how much you love her, and make the guests laugh. 

1. Maid of Honour Speech Structure

It’s simple really…

  • Introduce yourself and how you know the bride
  • Script a laugh as soon as possible; within the first 20 seconds. 
  • Establish the main theme of your speech (we’ll get to that in a bit) 
  • Tell a few great stories which illustrate the bride’s characteristics in action. This should make up about two thirds of your speech
  • Introduce your joy (scepticism?) when her partner first came on the scene
  • Pay a (short but heartfelt) tribute to the bride’s partner and sum up your happiness at their union 
  • Pay a more thoughtful tribute to the bride; highlighting her best traits and illustrating your love for her
  • Sum up the theme of your speech with a funny line and propose a toast to the couple

 

maid of honour toast

2. Maid of Honour Opening - How to Start Your Speech

Introduce yourself, how you know the bride and try to get an early laugh. It will relax you and your audience. 

Ideally, your ice-breaker should be original and reflect the style of the wedding day and the personality of the newlyweds. 

Often, a bit of self depreciating humour works well too…  

Examples of Maid of Honour Opening Lines… 

  • “Greetings, friends and family! Today, I’m honored to stand before you as the self-appointed spokesperson for the bride’s questionable life choices… starting with her choice of me as Maid of Honour. Kidding! Or am I?”
  • “Good [morning/afternoon/evening], everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the festivities so far. If you’re not, just blame the DJ – it’s what I plan to do later. Now, as the Maid of Honour, my main job is to make sure the bride doesn’t trip over her dress. So far, so good. But I’m also here to deliver a speech, and let me tell you, my track record with speeches is about as consistent as my attempts at a low-carb diet. Let’s see how this goes!”
  • “Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests. I’m [Your Name], and I’m thrilled to be the opening act for this matrimonial main event. I promise to keep it short, sweet, and scandalous.”
 
maid of honour toast

3. Maid of Honour Closing Lines & Toast

Other speakers get first dibs on the classic toasts but quite frankly, who wants them?

Ideally, you want your toast to tie in with a theme or back-ref a story you told earlier in the speech, even if it’s just raising a glass to ‘the coolest couple this side of the Hog’s Head’, or ‘to a lifetime of dancing on tables together’. 

Examples of maid of honour toasts…

  • “So, here’s to the newlyweds– may your love be as enduring as the memories we’ve shared and as resilient as [Bride’s Name]’s waterproof mascara. May your days be filled with laughter, your nights be filled with Netflix, and may you always find joy in the little things, like a perfectly timed GIF in a group chat. To [Couple’s Names]”

  • “To the newlyweds, may your marriage be the greatest love story ever told, filled with plot twists, happy endings, and the occasional dramatic soundtrack. Cheers!”

  • “As we raise a toast to the happy couple, remember that marriage is like a roller coaster – thrilling, occasionally stomach-churning, and best enjoyed with someone who won’t let you throw up alone. May your days be filled with more joy than a kid in a candy store and your nights be as cozy as a cat in a sunbeam. Cheers!”
 

(TIP – SpeechyAI is great at crafting truly unique toasts to deliver on the day!)

4. Questions Maids of Honour Should Ask the Nearlyweds

If in doubt, ask the two folk in charge… 

  • INTRO – Will you be be introduced by an MC or will you need to introduce yourself?
  • THE SPEAKER SCHEDULE – When will you be speaking (stagger your alcohol intake accordingly). 
  • SUGGESTED DURATION –  how long do the couple want you to speak? 
  • EQUIPMENT – Will there be a mic? Will you have time to test it on the morning? If so, it’s worth making sure you know how far to hold it from your mouth etc.
  • KIDS – Worth knowing if any children or prudish adults are in attendance so you can cater your content appropriately. 

5. Length of a Maid of Honour Speech

Some couples say they’d like their friend’s wedding speeches to be between three and five minutes long. We think that’s quite tight, so do negotiate for a few more minutes if you can. 

A good length for a maid of honour speech is around eight minutes; long enough to say everything you need to say but still leave people entertained. There’s never an excuse for a wedding speech to be over ten minutes. 

Generally, you want a wordcount of between 800 and 1,200 words. 

The wedding experts agree… ‘There’s a great saying; delivering a speech shouldn’t take longer than it does to consummate a marriage.’ Alison Hargreaves, Founder of Guides for Brides.

Lots of sites offer quick estimates of your speech duration based on your wordcount and speaking speed. 

wedding speeches feminism bridesmaids help

6. Any Special Considerations for Sisters of the Bride?

Just a lot more material to consider… 

Check out our sister of the bride blog for more ideas.

wedding speeches sister of groom help

How to Write & Deliver a Maid of Honour Speech

So, you know how to start and end your speech, but what about the bit in between? 

Here’s how to source, script and serve up the speech-meat… 

The trick to starting your speech is to view as it as series of mini-challenges, rather than writing a great speech in one hit.

Sometimes it helps just to answer a few simple questions. Once, you do, suddenly you have content to play with. 

So, the next time you have a spare 15 mins, pick a question to ponder…  

  1. What makes your friend distinctive, unusual and so darn brilliant
  2. Stories & anecdotes that show these qualities and quirks in action 
  3. What is the bride’s guiltiest pleasures / strange habits / passions in life? 
  4. What they surprisingly good at? And shockingly bad at? 
  5. How and why do they make you laugh? 
 
Once you’ve done that for your friend, do a similar thing for their partner. 
 

Then, when you come to writing your speech, you already have strong building blocks to work with and it feels like a less intimidating task.

wedding speeches team help

Neuroscientists have discovered that our brains lights up when we hear stories, and all good speeches have great stories at the heart of them.

A maid of honour speech usually has about three strong anecdotes within it – and as well as the individual stories, the whole wedding speech needs to have a narrative arc. 

Rather than just recounting a series of desolate memories, your speech needs a ‘throughline’; an idea that connects all stories, insights and compliments into one seamless tale. 

Here are some examples of some classic maid of honour speech themes:

Lessons in Love (and Laughter):

    • Share lighthearted lessons the couple has taught you about love.
    • Sprinkle in humorous advice for a successful and amusing marriage.

Fairy Tale with a Twist:

    • Put a humorous spin on the classic fairy tale theme.
    • Imagine the couple as characters in a quirky fairy tale with unexpected twists.

Journey Through the Chaos:

    • Describe the bride’s single days with you as her sidekick
    • Describe the couple’s journey together with a humorous twist.
    • Share amusing stories of the chaos and adventures they’ve navigated as a couple.
 
(As a team of storytellers, our favourite part of working with clients, is helping them uncover their best stories & create a strong theme. Check out our Bespoke Speech Service if you’d like us to help!)
 

eulogy writing service dearly departed

Cut the cliches and concentrate on what makes your friend unique.

Avoid too many of the obvious adjectives or anything that’s overused. Instead nail her individual and quirky characteristics.

Is she a library-lover, a technology fiend, a total foodie? Is she the most competitive Scrabble player in the world, or the one person you can rely on to respond to a WhatsApp at 2am? 

Being specific and truthful helps make your tribute more meaningful and entertaining. 

Remember, everyone is weird in their own way so cherish the nut-job she is! 

brides party

Whether it’s a same-sex or heterosexual wedding, your friend’s new spouse deserves more than a few cursory or superficial compliments. 

You need to pay tribute to their character too.

Even if you have a wealth of material, be strict with yourself. Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length, and we guarantee it will be twice as good.

Ernest Hemingway said ‘The first draft of anything is shit’. This is not only true but reassuring.

People are generally more powerful when their words are punchy. It’s the same with jokes – keep ’em snappy.

(If you’re really struggling with this stage of speechwriting, send in the experts. We offer an ace Edit Service which is guaranteed to make your speech better – or your money back!) 

Strong delivery is just as important as a brilliant speech.

A great speech can lose all its charm, humour and power by a rushed delivery or a nervous demeanour.

TAKE NOTE

The first thing to think about is if and how you’ll use notes.

As Speechy’s Andrew points out, ‘Delivering without notes is like ‘doing a wheelie’; pretty cool but, ultimately, unnecessary. It’s just showing off really.’

HOW TO PRESENT YOUR NOTES

Paper, cue cards or tech?

It comes down to personal preference but our recommendation, every time, is old school A4 paper.

Mobiles and iPads are increasingly being used but, we think it looks overly casual and sends out the wrong message.

HOW TO LAY OUT YOUR SPEECH

  • Lay it out on A4 so that the bottom third of the page has no text. This means your eyeline doesn’t drop too low.
  • Ensure the page turn is at an appropriate point; after a story has concluded, where you’d expect laughter or if there’s a natural pause.
  • Codify your speech. Use bold or italics to help you remember emphasis. Use ellipsesto pinpoint where you should pause, for example. 
  • Use a symbol. Ampersands (&) work well as a reminder to add an ‘ad lib’ – i.e. a line that you’ve scripted but memorised so you deliver it ‘off script’. This is a great technique that ensures you seem spontaneously witty and more relaxed than you may feel.
  • Use page numbers. In case you drop the speech.

 

Wedding Speech Delivery

Having notes is no excuse to be lazy.

While we encourage clients to use notes, Speechy also stress the importance of memorising the speech or, at least, ensuring the words are deep-rooted. 

On the day, you should only be using your notes to reference, rather than read from.

Public speaking expert, Alan Berg suggests, record yourself reading it and listen to it repeatedly. On your commute, going to bed, whenever you can.

Studies have suggested a few extra techniques might help retention…

  • Write out the speech by hand (typing doesn’t count)
  • Read the speech out loud three times in succession
  • Recite the speech just before you go to bed
  • Try delivering the speech without notes. If you lose track, pick up where you left off and force yourself to carry on.

rehearse your wedding speech

The aim is to come across as eloquent, confident and conversational. You also want to look like you’re having fun.

Here’s just some of the presenting techniques we consider when providing Delivery Coaching to our clients. 

PROSODY

This is the linguistic area concerned with intonation, stress and the rhythm of your speaking. It’s what adds life to your speech. It can change an average sentence into something magical.

If you know you’re prone to a monotone style (and so many people are) then work at reprogramming your brain.

Record your speech and consider where emphasis should be. Experiment with the undulations of your delivery. It will feel odd initially; like you’re hamming it up, but you need to do a bit of that. You need to act out your speech, not simply deliver it.

If you have a flat style of speaking, pretend you’re telling a story to a toddler. Get expressive. Become playful.

Once you’ve nailed it, codify your speech accordingly.

PACE

So, how do you strike the balance between authority and confidence, and sounding like you’re playing a podcast at half speed?

Well, what you’re aiming for is a conversational tone. You want the pace of a chat with your friends, anywhere between 130 and 170 words per minute.

Time yourself and check your pace.

PLAN TO PAUSE

A conversational style includes pauses.

A pause is essential when you expect laughter, and you should never talk over it once it lands. Speakers often move on from the joke too quickly and don’t give their audience a chance to react.

BODY LANGUAGE

It’s a biggie. As well as sounding relaxed, you need to look relaxed. An audience picks up body language cues.

Film yourself and check your posture.

  • Are your shoulders back?
  • Do you look relaxed?
  • Is your chin upwards and your head tilted towards your guests?
  • Are you using your hands?
  • Are you using facial expressions to full effect? Facial expressions can add an extra layer of humour so work on this. I want at least a couple of eyebrow raises in there.
  • Are you smiling? A smile puts your guests at ease and it will help relax you too.

 

(If you want personal feedback and tips on your presenting style – check out our Delivery Coaching Service. Online coaching with Speechy’s Topdog, Heidi Ellert-McDermott

Funny Maid of Honour Speech

Even if the core of your speech is sentimental, it should include lightness and humour too… 

Being funny isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet. Avoid any articles like this basically – Wedding Speech Jokes. The jokes will illicit groans not giggles.

The fact is, you’ve already got a ready-made characters that you can play with; including yourself and the bride!

Yes, it’s more effort to write original lines but that’s no excuse for jokes about it being such an emotional day, ‘even the cake is in tiers’.

wedding speeches edit speech writing uk

Self-deprecation is a brilliant tool to utilise. Arguably, the strongest, most powerful form of comedy. It’s also the safest.

Sometimes, the people who you think will be good sports aren’t.  The only thing that’s 100% safe for you to take the piss out of, is yourself.

Not only is it safe, it’s sensible. Studies have shown that people who use self-deprecating humour are seen as more humble and consequently more emotional intelligent and attractive. Yes, physically attractive.

So, while you don’t want the speech to be all about you, add a few self-depreciating lines in there. 

  • “Being the maid of honour is a lot like being vertically challenged – it comes with its own set of challenges, like reaching the top shelf and convincing people that I’m not a lost child at the wedding. But here I am, ready to give a speech without the need for a step ladder.”

 

wedding speeches lyrics hire a writer

Start by thinking about the things that make the bride unique. Everyone’s a little bit odd in their own way, so what traits will her friends and family recognise as truly ‘her’?

Ask yourself lots of questions – what’s her worst habit (Crocs), what’s her guilty pleasures (Dire Straits), what might she love more than her bride/groom (Abdul’s kebabs), what’s odd about him (her unusually short T-Rex arms).

Once you have good content to play with, the comedy will be much easier to find.

speeches celebration speechy

Imagine the bride was the central character in a sitcom. What type of person would she be?

The health freak who transforms into a borritos-eating monster after a few wines? The workaholic accountant who still calls on her dad for tax advice? 

Once you find a basic premise, use anecdotes to help build on the character you’ve created.

wedding speech laughter

A little comedy writers tip for you. 

The callback is where you plant a story or a piece of info at the start of the speech, possibly as a throwaway line, and then reference it later on. It makes it seem that you’ve been working up to that punchline the whole time and suggests you’re smarter than you are.

For example, you tell a story about how the groom accidentally stapled his shoes to the floor when he was renovating his first house. Later, you conclude your speech by wishing the couple a life adventure and travelling the world ‘…just make sure he doesn’t staple his shoes to the floor before you get the chance to leave.’

The callback is basically establishing an inside joke that everyone is part of.

To make it work

  1. Plant something funny, and crucially, memorable in the first third of your speech.
  2. Then simple refer to it towards the end of your speech.

Voila. You’ve become a comedy pro.

Speech Do's

Use a cheeky quote

If you’re struggling to sum up everything you want to say, see if someone else can! Using a great quote in your speech is an effective way of adding wit or sentiment to your speech. Check out our Maid of Honour Quote post

Practise your speech and film it on your phone

Watch it back, ignore the unflattering lighting and spot where your speech can be improved.

Check out more funny tips

Get inspired

Check out how other Maids of Honour do it, by visiting our collection of videos of bridesmaids in action . 

Speech Don'ts

Don't thank anyone

It’s not your job.

Don’t pretend your friend is a princess

She might be in a big white frock but everyone loves her for who she is, whether that’s ditsy, gobby or an absolute loon.

Don't ignore the feedback of friends

It’s always worth testing your speech out on a mate but this also means you have to listen to them. If they don’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day.

Don't talk over laughter

You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until your guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.

If you want to deliver a legendary speech, work with us.

We’re rated ‘excellent’ on Trustpilot and that’s why we offer a DELIGHT GUARANTEE on all our bespoke services.

And, of course, in the world of Zoom, Whatsapp and Death Wish Coffee, we work with clients around the world.

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