By Jordan Elizabeth. The night my sister got married, I decided I wanted to pursue stand-up comedy. Maybe that sounds like an inappropriate reaction to the occasion. But after I gave my Maid of Honor speech, and people laughed and were moved by things I said...I was hooked. Forgive me if this sounds arrogant, but my speech slayed. And I’ve been to weddings where speeches were the most boring part of the night. So, being a self-proclaimed expert, I wanted to share some tips on how to write a great Maid of Honor speech.
- Open With a Joke Please don’t kick it back to your High School English class, when a famous quote - or even worse, the definition of “love” or “commitment” - was a suggested essay opener. It’s super lame and sounds exactly like a paper you were forced to write.Instead, open with a joke or a funny comment. You don’t have to be a comedian to pull it off. I had a built-in opener at my sister’s wedding, because I had a stress fracture and was wearing a knee-high walking cast. I made some joke about how I originally planned a whole variety show song-and-dance number, but my injury caused me to cancel. If you’re not blessed with a visible injury, find something to make a joke about (ex: Thank you, parents of the bride, for springing for the open bar!). Keep in mind that people love self-deprecating humor, so don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself (ex: Are you wearing taffeta? Was the bride kind enough to let you wear a dress that another single there might actually find you attractive in? That one’s a win-win, because it’s funny and you let the singles know you’re available.) A joke is the best way to grab the guests’ attention and you’re letting them know that what you’re about to say is going to be interesting.
- Make It Interesting For Everyone The worst speeches I’ve ever sat through are ones that are a 10-minute inside joke. It’s alienating, and no one really cares about that crazy time freshman year. Keep in mind, that just like the wedding itself, your speech isn’t about you. It’s not even about the bride. It’s about the 200 other people in attendance. We all want to feel important at the wedding, so don’t be the one to make everyone else feel out-of-the-loop. Stick with anecdotes or feelings you have with the bride and/or groom everyone will enjoy hearing. So maybe leave out the story about the time the groom lost his virginity to the stripper you rented for a frat party sophomore year.
- Be Funny, Be Heartfelt While it’s good to open with a joke, make sure it’s not all gags. A wedding is a happy and emotional time, so play to both emotions. What’s your relationship to the bride? What’s something they taught you? The tricky part, then, is to vacillate between being tear-worthy one second and then laugh-worthy the next. In my speech, I talked about how, growing up, I wanted to be nothing like my sister. She wanted to do theater and meet boys, I wanted to play hockey and make people think I could be a lesbian. But as we became adults and I saw the person she’s become and the person she’s found, and that was a life worth emulating. It got some good “awww’s,” because it was genuine, and maybe unexpected.
- Wrap It The F*** Up Again, it isn’t about you. I once sat through a rambling 15-minute speech, and people tuned out after about 4 minutes and started talking over her. No one wants to hear a complete oral history of your relationship and every emotion you’ve had about her getting married. Stick with 5 steps: Joke opener; introduce yourself and who you are in relation to the bride or groom; funny story/heartfelt thoughts; your wishes for the couple; and goodnight I’ll be the open bar all night.
- Procrastinate! This might be one of the few times that waiting until the last minute is a good idea. I didn’t write mine until the cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception. I think the best stuff comes while you’re living in the emotions of it all. If you’re the MOH, you’re probably related to the bride or a lifetime bestie, so you’ll be emotionally raw, which is good. If I had written my speech beforehand, I would not have been so lovey-dovey and honest. It would have been very canned and cliche. This leads to the final, yet optional tip:
- Work Up Some Tears Since everyone is so emotional and happy (unless you invite your ex, they might be bitter and sad), it’s good to give everyone an outlet to weep a little bit. When you’re talking about what the bride means to you or your wishes for them, let it out. There’s something about making the bride cry that feels really good and like you nailed it. Maybe it’s the Lemon Drop shots talking, but communal crying makes you all feel like something good just happened.
At the end of the day, you know the bride best and what she wants out of her special day, so don’t be afraid to veer from my unsolicited advice. But these are tried and true steps to writing a kick-ass speech, so don’t ruin the whole wedding by going totally rogue and blabbering nonsense. Because then you definitely won’t get laid by the hot, single groomsman you were trying to impress all night with your “Kid In Play” dance routine.