When you accepted the role of your bride's maid of honor, you likely knew that the position came with several responsibilities. While most of those duties revolve around providing support at the appropriate moments, there's one in particular that puts you front and center: the reception speech. To help you craft the perfect address to the bride and groom, we tapped three industry experts to come up with the ultimate maid of honor speech template. Hit their recommended key points, and your time with the mic will be both a delightful surprise to the couple and a highlight of the reception, guaranteed.
Start with a brief introduction.
Before you hop into that hilarious anecdote, you'll want to ground your audience. That means beginning by quickly introducing yourself and explaining your connection to the bride. We can't emphasize brevity enough—especially since "speeches should only be between two and three minutes," says Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Special Events. You don't want to take up precious time outlining the minutiae of how you met the woman of the hour.
Express your gratitude.
Being chosen to be your bride's maid of honor is just that—an honor. "You are the maid of honor for a reason. You are loved and important to the couple," says Rocket Science Events' Gretchen Culver. Now's the time to thank your best friend (or sister!) and her spouse for their friendship, love, and support—and for including you on one of the biggest days of their lives, Culver advises.
Talk about the couple as individuals.
You'll want to dedicate the majority of your time with the microphone actually talking about the couple. Start with the bride, suggests Keegan—outline her incredible personality traits and share a poignant or funny anecdote before doing the same for her new spouse. Whatever details you decide to share, be sure to "tell a story you feel connected to," advises event planner Jaclyn Journey, since you'll be more likely to speak from a place of "joy and confidence." Use humor if that's a language that you speak well, but don't force it if comedy isn't your strong suit. "Be funny if it is natural, otherwise stick to sentiment and compliments," Culver adds. It's just as important to note what not to share: All three experts agree that inside jokes, past relationships, and incriminating stories are all on the banned list. "You should also avoid making the speech all about you," adds Culver. "The speech should be focused on the happy couple."
Talk about the couple as partners.
Be sure to enunciate what makes these two great—their mutual interests, their ability to grow together in the face of hardship, their commitment to their friends and family. If you're married, you can also slip a few words of practical advice into this section, says Journey: "Giving sweet and funny examples of how to settle a fight or make up for a mistake could make the entire speech feel relatable and memorable.
Finish with a toast.
After months of practice ("Maids of honor should write their speeches a few weeks in advance, so that they can practice and feel super confident," says Keegan), you've utterly nailed your short and sweet address. Conclude by raising a toast to the newlyweds and their bright future. According to Keegan, this should only be your second drink of the night. "Drink just one cocktail or glass of wine before you speak—the last thing you need is to be nervous and drunk!" she says.