Being asked to be a maid of honour (or "MOH") is a very special occurrence. It's a bride's way of telling you how important you are to them and to their relationship. Whether it's a sister or a best friend who's asked you to participate in their special day in this way, being a MOH is a very special and exciting way to be involved in a wedding. Of course, being a MOH comes with a checklist of tasks to complete, including supporting the bride, managing the bridesmaids, and planning a bridal shower. But there's one big assignment that the job calls for that might have you feeling a bit nervous, and that's delivering the maid of honour speech at the reception.
Maybe public speaking isn't exactly your forte, or maybe you're worried you won't be able to sum up your love for your best friend and their partner in a quick speech. Whatever your concerns are about delivering the MOH speech, no need to worry. POPSUGAR spoke with celebrity wedding planner and luxury event designer Samantha Goldberg, aka "Sassi Sammi", who has been planning events and weddings for the past 30 years. Ahead, Goldberg shares some key tips that will help you write and deliver a thoughtful, memorable speech.
What Should You Include in a Maid of Honour Speech?
Remember to introduce yourself.
As MOH, you have been carefully selected by the bride because you share a deep connection, so make that connection shine. Perhaps the bride is your sister, or you went to college together, or you grew up down the road; whatever your connection to the bride or groom is, be sure to share that with the other wedding guests to give your speech a sense of history and connection. Additionally, be sure to greet everyone with either "Good evening" or "Welcome," and tell them your full name. Sure, you'll probably know a good number of the guests in attendance, but it's always better to make sure everyone knows who you are before you get far into your speech.
From years of speaking with brides, Goldberg shared that the best speeches are the ones that are personal and highlight the relationship between the maid of honour and the bride. Talk about your friendship, including funny moments, adventurous trips, and other memories you have together. Sharing these warm and fuzzy (and oftentimes funny) memories is a great way to reminisce about how far everyone has come, celebrate your friendship, and demonstrate your love for each other.
Just remember there are specific things you shouldn't mention, like prior relationships or any awkward fights. "Knowing when you can share specific things and why sometimes you can't is important to know beforehand," Goldberg reminded. "My suggestion is to know your bride and what she would be comfortable with." You want to use this moment to remind the bride and guests of the good times, so keep that at the forefront when considering what stories to tell.
Talk about the couple.
At an event focussed on how two people met and fell in love, it can be really fun to hear about the maid of honour's first meeting with their best friend's partner. Maybe you remember how happy your friend was after she met them, or maybe you remember the hilarity of her calling off dating only days before meeting her future love. Whatever the story is, it can be a fun way to give another glimpse into their relationship from a different vantage point. And don't be afraid to put your emotions into it. "You want what is said about the couple to resonate with the bride and maybe cause a few laughs or tears," Goldberg said. "Now is the right time to share these emotions. You may even want to add a cute video or photos to show some of your favourite moments with the couple."
Whether or not you're generally comfortable with public speaking, remember to practice your speech beforehand. It helps to write a draft on your phone or an index card to keep the words flowing, but don't read off the physical copy robotically. On the other hand, don't feel like you need to memorise the entirety of the speech either, as that adds undue pressure. The goal is to practice enough that you've familiarised yourself with the speech, that you can give most of it off the cuff in a conversational manner, but that you have your written backup should you need it. Odds are, you'll probably get a bit emotional, so having practiced will help you carry through the speech, even if you're a little choked up.
What Should You Skip in a Maid of Honour Speech?
A good rule of thumb is to keep your speech short and sweet, Goldberg advised. "Do not allow your speech to take over the many other speeches ahead," Goldberg said. "Most weddings have a timeline, so keep that in mind so you cover the most important parts." Typically, speeches should not exceed the three- to five-minute mark.
Steer clear of anything inappropriate or embarrassing.
This is a formal event, and you are in a room full of the bride and her partner's closest family and friends. It's important to make sure you're on your A game when delivering your MOH speech. That means excessive drinking beforehand is probably not the best idea. Goldberg also advised keeping private stories or anything that may be viewed as inappropriate to yourself. Those hilarious stories about the bride's partying or hookups might be best saved for the bachelorette party, rather than the reception where Granny is sitting five feet away.
You clearly mean a lot to the bride to have been entrusted with the role of maid of honour. Make sure you think about what you want to say beforehand, and do not improvise your speech on the day of the wedding. The bride clearly means a lot to you, so really take some time to think about your relationship, reflect on your best times together, and remember the big points in the couple's relationship that you were by their side for. It might seem like a daunting task, but the more prepared you are for the speech, the easier it will be and the less stress you'll have on the day of the wedding.
At the end of the day, the MOH position is an honourable place to be. Speak from your heart, speak clearly, and remember that you are very special to the bride.