Bridesmaid and Maid of Honour speeches….slightly less common than the Best Man speech, and in our opinion, the slightly trickier of the two to nail! Recently we had the privilege of reading the incredible speech jewellery designer Samantha Wills delivered at her best friends wedding. Funny, heartfelt, inclusive, generous and self deprecating, it’s the kind of flawless piece of public speaking we all dream of delivering.
We felt compelled to share it (in it’s entirety, below), and also asked Samantha - a talented public speaker who we've witnessed firsthand deliver some incredibly inspiring speeches- for all her advice and tips, the do’s and the definitely do-not-do’s for preparing a Maid of Honour speech of your own. Here’s what she had to say…
My Best friend of 20 years, Melanie got married recently in London – We (as in Mel and I !) had dreamed of this day for as long as we could remember.
As kids of the 90’s, at our grade 10, 11 & 12 years where spent through the late 90’s – so you can bet your bottom dollar that we spent many a movie marathon sprawled on my parents living room floor, divulging 90’s rom-coms like they were our survival. Julia Roberts was a favorite of ours – so when My Best Friends Wedding came out, and we got our hands on the VHS – we had it on repeat as fast as that thing could auto rewind itself!
We made inspiration books of what we wanted our wedding & bridesmaids dresses to look like, our hair & accessories, (this also doubled as school formal inspiration!) - When, 20 years later, My Best Friend’s Wedding was actually upon us, and Mel had asked me to be her Maid of Honour (‘Obviously, you know you’re my Maid of Honour, right’ She said on the phone one day, her in London, I in NYC. I feigned surprise as to not appear obnoxious that I knew the position was mine, she knew I was feigning, ‘Shut up.’ She followed. ‘Obviously you are. You don’t have a choice! You know this! Ha! OK. Good. Done’) – I wanted to make sure make sure my Maid of Honour speech was on point. So – here are my tips for your Maid of Honor / Bridesmaids speech…
The basic flow of your speech should go along the lines of;
- Introduce yourself (Not everyone at the wedding will know you)
- How long you’ve known the bride
- Where you met & any funny stories you have from that time
- The Moment you knew you would be friends for life
- Special traits & qualities about the bride
- You knew she was in love with her fiancé when…
- What you admire about the groom / why he is great for your best friend / Why the couple are a perfect match & why they compliment each other
- If someone extremely close to the bride could not be at the wedding, toast & honour them.
- A wedding wish / toast to the couple
A Few Tips:
- DON’T …..I feel it is harder to give a speech as Maid of Honour / Bridesmaid rather then as a Best Man / Groomsman – because boys naturally can be slightly more risqué – make no mistake, it is NOT OK for you to talk about that crazy night you & the bride had in your early 20’s where you guys may or may not have disco-pashed 3 boys over the course of the night on the dance floor etc. NO.
- DO…. Tell cute / cheeky stories about the brides adventures, things that show a cheeky side to personality.
- DO…. Ask to have your speech precede the Best Man’s speech.
- DO… Be authentic – the speeches are the most sentimental part of the reception.
- DON’T … tell inside jokes. It might be hilarious to you & the bride, but no one else will find it even the least bit funny.
- DO… Close with a quote or song lyric – I find this is a beautiful way to end a speech, especially if you know a song lyric that is important to the bride (maybe it’s a song she has always referenced she would love for her wedding), it also makes the closing of your speech smooth & seamless.
- DO… Allow yourself a lot of time to write the speech so you can perfect it. Also enough time to practice – take the speech up with you to read, but you should know it well enough that you can read entire sentences (or a few sentences) without having to look at the paper. This comes across much more authentic & allows you to make longer eye contact with the room.
- DON’T… Rush through it. Take your time, speak slower then you usually would, and ensure you look at the bride and groom when you are talk to them / toasting them, then scan the room when you are telling stories about them.
- DO… After the wedding, it might be nice for you to print out your speech on beautiful paper & put in a card & send to the bride, for her to have as a keepsake.
Read Samantha’s speech to Mel beneath the Gallery
“I am Melanie’s Maid of Honor. I’ve know Mel for exactly 20 years, we met in high school in August 1995.
I was enrolling in the front office at Port Macquarie High School, escaping my Christian School past to dive into the freedom of the public school system, nervous as hell as I thought I was going to get bashed up on my first day, because my new, cool public school uniform had not yet arrived, so my parents insisted I must wear my Christian school uniform til it did – Melanie did nothing to quell those nerves, as she rolled into the same front office, 30 minutes late for school, spotting me in my kooky religious uniform & giving me the dirtiest side eye I’d ever seen. She thought I was a religious prude, I thought she was a rebel without a cause, and so was the start of our unlikely pairing.
Everyone thinks Melanie is the angelic-butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth-type. In my first week at Port High, we got paired up in cooking class, to create our own restaurant, we worked on the menu, café name & branding all week, and on the final day we had to create one thing from the menu. We had decided on a gourmet pizza & Mel and I agreed she would bring in the pizza base & cheese, and I would supply the other ingredients. So the Friday comes around, I am sitting in class while all the other students are buddied up, creating culinary delights, my buddy Melanie was no were to be seen. Turns out one of Melanie’s friends had decided to runaway from home the night before, and had convinced Melanie to runaway with her, so while Melanie the innocent Bandit was on the run, and the police had a search operation in effect, this innocent little Christian girl was left to make a pizza from tomato, garlic, coriander & prayer. Needless to say, Melanie had a close brush with the law, my prayer was not enough to get us a pass on the tomato, garlic & coriander pizza situation, but it was the start of our friendship – Because as it turns out Mel’s Mum forbid her from hanging out with her renegade runaway friend, and forced her to hang out with me. And we have been best friends ever since.
We grew up in each other’s houses, I call her Grandparents Nanny & Poppy, we holidayed together, and for 6 years we lived together in Sydney.
I was born an only child, but I don’t consider myself one – Because I believe that unlike being born with siblings, as an only child you choose your siblings through your life, an such was the connection we had, that the day I met her I was no longer an only child, but have a sister. Her name is Melanie.
Mel is a very rare find in a person –
She is FIERCELY LOYAL – while she physically stands only at 5’4”, in her mind, I think she thinks she stands at 8” or 9” tall, such is her protection instinct of those she loves. One of many traits that I know will make her an incredible Mum one day, Mel without question is on your side – Most people would describe their best friends loyalty, that if the circumstance arose, there best friend would be the one to bail them out of jail. But not Mel, because I know she would be sitting right there next to me in the cell saying something like ‘Well that wasn’t one of your best ideas, but shit, it was fun!.... I’ll call Haran.’
CHARISMATIC – I’m not sure I’ve met anyone with more sparkle – I’m sure I speak for everyone here today, and I know Haran knows this better then anyone, that Mel lights up every room she walks into. Doing so with such grace & effervescence. But most beautifully, she is SELFLESS & makes everyone she meets feel like they are the most important person in the room.
These traits make up an extraordinary person, who I am honored to stand along side today.
Following meeting Mel in Grade 8, about a year later, she moved to Sydney – Living 6 hours apart in the late 90’s – a time before everyone had a home computer & we didn’t have mobile phones – We would send a ‘Letter Book’ back and forth – the cover was horrifically decoupaged with pictures out of DOLLY Magazine, glitter love hearts, photos of us, and pictures of Mel’s beloved TAKE THAT.
So instead of writing single letters & posting them, I would write a letter in the book, post it to Mel, she would write a reply & send it back. It reads like you’d expect any dialogue between two 15 year old girls growing up in the 90’s - Obnoxiously dramatic, world ending heart break & a level of teenage angst to an underlying soundtrack of Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, but it’s a beautiful archive I know we both treasure, it is our story.
And the newest chapter of that story, is what we are all here to celebrate today, Mel & Haran’s marriage.
As girls, I think it is a rarity that you think anyone is good enough for your best friend. But as I have been lucky enough to get to know Haran over the past few years, it quickly became clear to me that he was a rare exception to this rule.
Someone recently gave me the following advice on marriage; ‘One of the key ingredients to long term companionship, is when the needs & happiness of the other, becomes more important than your own.’
It’s about making the other person your priority, and when I look at the way that Haran treats Melanie, this is one of many, but definitely the most endearing of traits I see.
Haran, thank you for treating Melanie as respectfully & beautifully as you do; you are a truly loyal & selfless friend to her. You definitely get the MVP award as far as Boyfriends go, and from today, you will be the Beckham of husbands.
I will be making two toasts this evening….. The first, is to Melanie’s Dad – Ridwan, who while he is not here with us today, I have absolutely no doubt that is looking over us all, taking a million photos on the newest electronic device on the market, and carving up the dance floor with an energy that would put us all to shame. Mel’s Dad was so proud of her, his daughter who was living overseas, travelling the world – flashing her beautiful smile wherever she goes, that looks exactly like his. So if you could join me is raising your glasses to Mel’s Dad – To Ridwan. (TOAST)
To Melanie & Haran – Thank you both for allowing us to share your special day with you. I hope today, as I’m sure it is, is the most magical day, as you are celebrating your love & new life together, surrounded by those who love you most. But more then that, I hope that today it is a symbol of what your life forever looks like; By each others side, with good wine, dancing, laughter, & surrounded by those who you love, & who love you most.
I love you both dearly… and in the words of Pavana;
“You deserve a love so big,
it dims the sky, and sets fire
to the stars.
A love so expansive,
it weaves constellations
so you never forget who you are.”
I am so thrilled for you both that you have found this together, and I wish you the most beautiful of days today, and always, as you start new life together.
Please join me in raising your glasses, to the Bride & Groom - To Melanie & Haran!" (TOAST)