You've been asked to play a huge role in your best friend's wedding—maid of honor! But the job comes with a slew of important tasks, including giving the maid of honor speech. While this is a moment to celebrate your friendship, the idea of getting up in front of a crowd can be nerve-wracking if you're not used to giving speeches.
As staunch advocates of BFF love, we've taken it upon ourselves to create a go-to guide for penning the perfect speech to see your bestie off on their new life with their partner. With a few tips and tricks along with plenty of practice, your maid of honor speech will go off without a hitch.
With expert insight from professional speechwriter Katelyn Peterson—founder of vow- and toast-writing company Wedding Words—and examples of real-life speeches, we have all the details you need. Read on for helpful tips and guidelines to deliver an absolutely unforgettable maid of honor speech.
Maid of Honor Speech Template
While every maid of honor speech will be different, we've put together an outline to get you started on yours.
Start with the bride; end with the couple. Of everyone at the wedding, you have the best insight into how much your bestie's partner has changed them for the better. Your speech needs to be about the friend you knew long before meeting their soulmate and then pivot to what role they have played in their life. Maybe your friend is even funnier now, or maybe you've simply never seen your BFF so happy. This is also a great way to incorporate their new spouse into the speech if you don't really know them that well; speak to the way that they complement each other or how your BFF's new spouse has made them a better person.
Pepper in anecdotes. Stories do a better job of getting your point across than blanket statements do. "Each anecdote you share should have an underlying theme that ties all the short stories together," says Peterson. "Reveal that theme near the end of your speech, and you’ll achieve a strong emotional impact."
End with a positive outlook. The nature of this speech is not so much about your relationship with your friend, but the bond the couple shares. Make sure all of the separate components of your toast draw a positive conclusion, ending in how happy the couple is together and your best wishes for their marriage.
Maid of Honor Speech Tips
Keep in mind these helpful tips from professional speechwriter Katelyn Peterson to ensure you nail your maid of honor toast.
Brainstorm. Kick-start the creative process by writing down any memories, emotions, or ideas that make you think of your BFF. "I recommend free-writing for 20 minutes," says Peterson. "When you’re done with this exercise, you should have some quality material that you can weave into the form of a speech." This allows you to create a blueprint of all the major points you want to make—more or less creating a roadmap for your ideas—and then fill it in with supporting information.
Ditch generic praise. "Use entertaining and engaging stories to show the bride’s personality," advises Peterson. There's a big difference between simply saying, "She is such a great friend!" versus telling a story that illustrates just that.
Half the guests may not know your BFF all that well, so use this moment to paint a picture of how amazing they are. Bring their character to life with details only you could know.
Remember it isn't about you. While a lot of the anecdotes should be about your time with your friend, you should not be the focal point. After you briefly introduce yourself (remember: most of the people probably won't know who you are or your relation to the couple), you shouldn't be making any additional references to yourself. You're simply the vehicle to explain why the newlyweds are so fantastic.
Do not mention exes. No one wants to be reminded of past relationships, particularly in front of their family, friends, and new life partner. Keep the tone of your speech positive, and it will reflect positively on you also. You don't want to come across as though you're trying to roast your friend.
Keep it short. The longer your speech, the more opportunities you'll have for people to start losing attention. "Keep your speech under five minutes," suggests Peterson. "Anywhere between two to five minutes is great."
Pause. Be sure to pause for a few seconds after each joke to let the audience laugh. When you immediately start speaking right afterward, you won't give people a chance to laugh or even understand the next line. Keep in mind that starting the speech on a funny note can help you capture the attention of the audience for a minute or two, but it's the meaningful content that will keep them enthralled until the end. "Your goal should be to have guests laughing and wiping tears away by balancing humor with sincerity," says Peterson.
If you experience public-speaking jitters, try looking just above everyone’s head. This can minimize your anxiety while allowing guests to think you're looking right at them.
Don't use inside jokes. If the joke or situation is something other wedding guests would have to be there to understand, avoid using it. If people don't understand the context behind it, it will probably go over their heads. It's okay to poke a little bit of fun at your friend, but keep it light. Don't say anything that would be embarrassing or make them feel uncomfortable.
Practice. "The more you recite your speech out loud, the more comfortable you’ll become," notes Peterson. Practice your speech twice a day, starting at least a week beforehand, and record yourself a couple of times so you can hear your pacing and tone. Rehearse the speech in front of friends, too, in order to see if your jokes get a laugh, and try practicing in a mirror to nail your physical presence.
Answer These Questions to Get Started
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to start brainstorming ideas for your speech.
- Who will be speaking before or after you, and how will this affect the content of your speech? (You might want to include a reference to their toast in your speech, thank them for an introduction, or introduce the next speaker.)
- What would your friend want their in-laws and newly acquired family to know about them, and how can you attest to those qualities or characteristics from your own experiences with them?
- What's a warm memory of the newlyweds that always makes you smile? (Ask yourself: If their relationship were a Hollywood movie trailer, what key moments would be featured?)
- When you picture the couple's life together in a few years (or from this moment forward), what do you see? Is there any advice you can give them for their lifelong journey ahead?
- Is there something you want to say to your bestie's new spouse? (Perhaps a few lighthearted tips on how to handle more trying situations that you've learned from your own experiences with them.)
Maid of Honor Speech Examples to Make Your Own
"Good evening, everyone. I’m Cami, the maid of honor and the bride’s best friend. Over the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed Madison prioritize everyone else’s happiness, but today, we get to honor hers. With Madison being my most fun-loving friend, I knew she’d be down to join me on a two-week adventure traveling throughout Europe. We lived together, but nothing cements a friendship quite like sharing a full-size bed in dingy hostels from the Netherlands to Spain. Madison’s luggage kept breaking, and she went through four suitcases in 14 days! There we were, strolling down a busy street in Madrid and Madison’s clothes were falling out of her over-packed suitcase, painting the path behind us with her sundresses and socks. But she never let her rundown luggage ruin the trip. She just kept rolling with it. Literally. I can always depend on Madison to roll with any situation, to show up for the people that she loves, and to have a good time.
She has this belief that the more she can give you, embrace you, and love you—the better off she is.
But the truth is everyone in this room is better for knowing you, Madison. You love so deeply, selflessly, and unconditionally. And I know that Pete is the best partner for Madison because I’ve seen him mirror these traits for her. No matter what may come your way, your combined patience, resilience, and love will make you an unstoppable team. And most importantly, I know you two will continue to keep rolling with it. Cheers!" —Cami
"I’m Ashley and welcome! I was introduced to Sarah through a mutual friend to evaluate if she would be a fit as my future roommate. I showed up to that first dinner wearing a casual sundress and flats. Meanwhile, Sarah walked in with voluminous curls, smoky eyes, red lipstick, and a smile that showed me she deserved that Miss Florida title in ’04. I just thought, 'Who is this girl?' Over the next two hours, I learned that this girl was the coolest, funniest person and that I had to live with her. We moved in and it was truly an immediate fit from watching the same shows to downing bottles of the same wine. Despite our homebody nature, we did enjoy our Saturday nights running around the city. One night after several margaritas, Sarah and I found ourselves locked out of our house. So we came up with the best plan we could imagine: Let’s cannonball into our pool. There we were: Two tequila-loving girls cannonballing to see who could create the biggest splash. From that night on, whenever we went out, we’d ask ourselves one key question: 'Is it going to be a cannonball in the pool kind of night?'
Inspiring joyful moments is what Sarah does for everyone else in her life, and it makes me happy to know that her new husband will do exactly that for her.
And just like she’s always filled the gap in our friend group—we know that John has entered her life to level her out in the best of ways, too. Let’s raise a glass to Sarah and John! May your life together be full of cannonball-in-the-pool kind of nights." —Ashley
"Hi, my name is Makena and I’m the bride’s younger sister and maid of honor. As I look at Winnie and Miles today, I see two people in the most loving, trustworthy, and nurturing relationship I’ve ever witnessed. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that even on her wedding day, Winnie is teaching me about life and love. Because the truth is Winnie has been my lifelong teacher. She’s the one who taught me how to read and how to ride a bike, but my most memorable teaching moment was when I was 11 years old. We had this mutual understanding—or so I thought—that we would not read each other’s journals. But I, of course, read hers and naively assumed she did not read mine. I learned the truth when I opened my journal one day to see an entire page filled with Winnie’s handwriting. There in the middle of my journal was a critique from my sister detailing out how I could improve my writing.
That’s one of the things I love and admire about Winnie: She inspires the people around her to be the best versions of themselves.
I know that if it weren’t for my sister, I would not be the person I am today. I’m inspired daily by the woman she is. Her confidence is unshakable, her excitability is contagious, and her determination is awe-inspiring. Winnie will finally get to experience what I’ve felt like my entire life with her. She’ll be cared for, unconditionally loved, and will learn every day with Miles as her lifelong teacher through love. Please raise a glass to Winnie and Miles! May you two never stop learning from each other as you continue to love each other." —Makena