Start early (but be okay if inspiration doesn’t hit until later).
Start giving some thought to your Maid of Honor speech a month out. Write a few drafts, go back at different times and edit and cull. About a week before the wedding try and get it finalised. I often find things tend to flow better when they have a looming deadline. It’s nice to start thinking about it well in advance, but don’t feel like you have to really pull it together more than a week beforehand!
When you feel like you’re hitting a wall, free write.
Sometimes, you know what you want to say but the words aren’t coming. Often this is because you’re thinking about what everyone else will think, instead of concentrating on what you think. For the first draft, get everyone else out of your head and just write as if no one will ever read this. It’s for you and you only.
Here are some questions to get you thinking:
For your sister:
- What was it like growing up with your sister? Were you guys close or did that come later?
- How do you look up to your sister? What have you learned from her?
- What is it that you admire about your sister?
- When you look back on times spent with your sister, what stands out?
- What was she like before/after she met the love of her life?
- Why are your sister and new brother-in-law perfect for each other?
For your best friend:
- How did you two meet? When did you know you were going to be best friends?
- What is your relationship like? What do you two like to do together?
- What do you love about her? What do you admire?
- Brainstorm times that she helped you out of a pickle, made you laugh, was there for you when you really needed it, or you did something epic together.
- How do you know she’s found the one? What do you love about her new husband?
Sometimes it’s easier to start in the middle.
An introduction, and similarly a conclusion, can be difficult. However if you have the bones of the speak done, you’ll find this will flow – try starting with the middle of the speech. Start by listing all the things that make the bride awesome, and write a paragraph about that. Then try listing the things you love about the bride and her new hubby together. Once you have that down you can add in the intro and conclusion, and then make sure everything flows, go back and tweak it as you see fit.
Have a point.
I’ve been to a few weddings in my time and seen a few speeches. For some reason, most people find speeches to be the time to tell all the embarrassing/funny stories of the bride & groom they can think of, followed by a “congrats”! Just pick one story that you feel is the best demonstration of how much the bride/sister/best friend means to you or how you know the bride & groom are perfect for each other and stick to it. ‘In’ jokes might be funny but no one else will get them and you will lose your audience, try and keep them to a minimum. Remember the bride is sitting up there as the centre of attention, after spending hours getting ready for the most important day of her life, telling embarrassing stories about her getting drunk and throwing up in a friend’s car is going to take a little bit of a shine off her ‘princess for a day’ dream.
Remember there are two people.
Don’t forget about the groom. Include him in your speech, speak of the first time you met him, how happy he makes your friend or sister and welcome him to the family.
Keep it short and sweet.
I think the ideal length is 2-3 minutes. You’ll lose your captive audience and people will get bored. You’re not the only one giving a speech remember, so if there are four 15 minute speeches it can be a long process for the guests. Have a plan and stick to it.
Seek advice from a few reliable friends.
Once you have a first (or second..) draft that you’re happy with, consult a few friends to see what they think. Even better if it is someone who isn’t going to the wedding so the speech isn’t ruined for any guests.
Memorise as best you can.
Maid of Honor speeches sound so much more genuine if you’re not reading off notes, so try and memorise what you can. However don’t be afraid of having some notes on hand too. They can be great to refer to if the nerves kick in and your mind goes blank and will help if you start getting off track.
Here is a little video to help you on your way of a Maid of Honour doing her thing: