Tag Archives: maid of honor speech

Help! I’m a Maid of Honor Who Hates Public Speaking!

Your best friend is getting married. You’re her maid of honor. It’s all great. You’re ecstatic. Except for one little problem: You HATE public speaking. You’re petrified about giving that toast at the reception. You haven’t spoken publicly since that incident in history class senior year and no one wants a repeat of how that went. Well girl, it’s time to face your fear. Giving a toast at the reception is part of your responsibility as a maid of honor. And you CAN do it.

Tips and Advice for the Maid of Honor with Stage Fright. You CAN do it!First of all, preparation is your friend. You may be tempted to wing it, because this allows you to put off thinking about the speech, and thus experiencing some of the stress, until the last minute. Resist this temptation. Having a prepared speech will not only help your nerves, it will also help you deliver a speech you can be proud of.

Stuck on what to write about? Take a look at these speech writing prompts and my advice for how to get started with writing. The good news? I’ve already got your first sentence written for you. Start with “For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Caitlin and I’m the bride’s sister/best friend/sorority sister/former roommate.” This may sound like a boring opening, but unless you know every single person at this wedding, it’s important to mention who you are and your relationship to the bride.

One way to approach the speech is to think of it as writing a personal letter to your best friend, telling her why you are happy for her on her wedding day. But remember to factor the groom into your speech. It can be tempting to tell all your favorite stories about you and bride—how you met, the club you started in middle school, that road trip you took in college, that one crazy night in college. But remember that this speech is about the bride and the groom. Talk a little about yourself and the bride, but make sure her man gets mentioned too.

If you want to incorporate a poem, song lyrics or a religious verse that you think will be meaningful to the couple, that’s totally fine. This can be a good option for those who hate public speaking, since it’s often easier to present words that someone else has written rather than your own thoughts. Just don’t let that be your entire speech. It’s important to include some personal remarks about the bride. She chose you to be her maid of honor because of your special connection. Use the poem or verse as the middle of your speech and bookend it with a personal introduction and explanation of why you think this verse will be meaningful to the bride. Then finish with remarks on why you think the couple will be a great match, your favorite story from their courtship or your well wishes for their happiness together.

Forget trying to memorize your speech. You’re already nervous, and there’s absolutely no reason to add another hurdle for yourself. It is perfectly acceptable to read your speech from a printout. Keep it to one typed page. You really do not have to talk for that long. Two or three minutes is completely fine. Double space your speech and set the font size to 12 or 13 (or even 14). You want it to be super-readable and easy to follow.

Now practice reading it. Out loud. Over and over and over again. The first time you read it, you aren’t going to be able to look up. But when you actually give the speech, you’re going to want to take a few pauses to look up at your audience. Practice looking up and smiling. You’re happy, remember? If you have to write in cues for yourself, like in a script, go right ahead. Like this: [Pause, look at Amber, smile.]

You’ve heard this before and you’re going to hear it again. Don’t just read the speech to yourself. Recruit a listener. They aren’t there to give you advice, they are there to be your crowd stand-in. They are helping you get used to saying your speech in front of other people. Pick someone who you are very comfortable with. You can even ask them to read the speech to you! Hearing how they read it may help you with your own delivery.

When you get to the reception, resist the urge to indulge in liquid courage. A drink is fine (depending on your tolerance, of course), but don’t overdo it. Liquor really won’t be your friend once you get handed the mike, and an earnest if jittery speech is going to be much more appreciated than a slurred, boozy one.

When it’s time to read the speech, hold your printout away from your face. If you have a podium to work with, set the paper down (this is when your large font size comes in handy). If not, keep your elbow at your side to achieve the right height. You want the guests to be able to see your face while you’re reading.

Keep yourself slightly turned toward the bride and groom while you’re speaking. You don’t want to turn your back on the other guests, but focusing on your best friend and looking at her may help your nerves a bit. Here’s a little trick for you: If you wear glasses or contacts, take them out/off during your speech. Not being able to see the eyes of those watching you can really help  relieve that feeling of being watched. You’ll feel a bit safer in your own private sight bubble.

Finally, end your speech by raising a glass and toasting the couple. It’s the guests’ signal that your toast is over and it’s time to take a drink! Then give the bride a hug and enjoy the rest of your night. You did it!

Maid of Honor Speech Writing Prompts

Maid of Honor Speech Writing Tips and Prompts

This post could probably be entitled “creative writing tips” because that’s really what writing a speech is all about—with the caveat that whatever you write needs to sounds natural when spoken aloud. Since getting started is usually the hardest part, I’ve compiled a list of maid of honor speech writing prompts that will help you organize your thoughts about the bride and groom and focus your speech. I’ve also written on how to format your speech and some maid of honor speech do’s and don’ts, if you’re looking for more info.

To start writing a speech, I am a firm advocate of just vomiting out whatever enters your mind (from your fingers, not your mouth). Other people would call this “stream of consciousness” or “spontaneous writing,” but “word vomiting” is just as apt. The whole idea is to not worry about choosing the right word or turn of phrase. You want to focus on ideas rather than word choice. Organization and finesse can come later. What you need to start are the broad strokes. Sometimes I don’t even write full sentences. I just jot down phrases or words that enter my head. I skip around. I leave my thoughts unfinished. I just get something out there. Don’t worry if what you’re writing doesn’t make sense. Let yourself go.

Once you have all those words down, read over what you’ve written. What has potential to be expanded? What catches your attention? Do you see some of the same words and ideas coming up again and again? Sometimes getting out your thoughts shows you the shape of what you want to say. To give you a really good example, when I started writing this post I thought it would be a step-by-step guide to writing a maid of honor speech. But as I was word vomiting (don’t worry, I feel fine now), I realized that I was focusing a lot on the barriers that keep us from starting to write a speech and how we can overcome them. So I modified my idea, organized my thoughts and turned this post into what you see today.

Still struggling? Here are a few tiny tricks I use to help with my writing process and some general advice on maid of honor speeches in particular.

1. If you get stuck on a word, or find yourself slowing up as you grasp for a particular concept, just type “TK” and move on. TK is a editing term that means “to come” (don’t ask about the K instead of a C, I don’t know). TK is really useful because it frees you to keep writing, but you know you need to come back later and find that perfect word.

2. Sometimes your brain needs a warm-up. If I’m struggling with writing, I like to tackle a simple task or mental problem. I feel like it gets my brain organized and ready to think without all the creative frustration that can come from writing. So for example, I might work on putting together a shopping list or read a blog post by a writer I admire. Endless scrolling on Instagram or catching up on Real Housewives won’t encourage your mind to be active. Quite the opposite—those activities are like pause buttons for your brain waves.

3. Resist the urge to use or modify a canned speech from the internet. Resist, resist, resist! 95% of the ones I have read are horrible—like truly cringe-inducing. The number one thing you speech should be is personal and there is no way you’ll get that from a template.

And here are your writing prompts. Use these to get you started. Hopefully these ideas will help you find the nugget of a story or idea that will lead to the perfect speech.

Maid of Honor Speech Writing Prompts

What words best describe the bride?

What words best describe the groom?

What words best describe their relationship?

How did you meet the bride?

How did the bride and groom meet?

What did they do on their first date?

What did you think of the groom when you first met him?

What’s your favorite story about the couple?

What do you admire about their relationship?

How did the groom propose?

What are some of the highlights or milestones of their relationship?

What were some of the challenges they faced in their relationship?

What’s your favorite story to tell about the bride?

Is there a story that epitomizes the bride?

Is there a story that epitomizes their relationship?

What hobbies and interests, like and dislikes do the couple share? How has that enhanced their relationship?

What hobbies or interests, likes or dislikes do they differ on? Has that led to any funny stories?

Have they tried to introduce their spouse to something new? Has it succeeded or failed (hopefully in spectacular fashion)?

Tips for writing your maid of honor speech, with lots of writing prompts to get the ideas flowing


Photograph by Christa Nicole Photography.

Ultimate Bridesmaid’s Top 10 Posts: Year 1

Ultimate Bridesmaid's Top 10 Guides (Bridal Shower Games, Writing a Maid of Honor Speech, Planning a Bachelorette Weekend and much more!)

When I was first asked to be a bridesmaid, I Googled “bridesmaid duties” (just like you probably did) and found myself led to a string of websites that look like they were thrown together around the time the internet was invented. I was really disappointed to see that there was very little real advice for bridesmaids that delved below the superficial and most of the lists I found seemed dated and out of touch, a sort of “Miss Manners” approach rather than an honest assessment of what to expect. I decided to use my own experience to put together articles and guides that might help other women like me. I’m really honored to find out that these articles dominate this year’s top 10. I could spend hours collaging gorgeous images of bridal showers or compiling bachelorette inspiration boards, but I really put my heart into these articles. Thanks for reading them and I promise I’ll keep more coming in year two. Please let me know what topics you’d like more info on in the coming year!

1. The Ultimate Maid of Honor Speech

How to Give the Ultimate Maid of Honor SpeechThis post was far and away the highest viewed in our first year. In my opinion, delivering a speech at a wedding is probably the most difficult thing asked of the maid of honor. Planning parties may be time consuming and logistically complicated, but writing and delivering a speech comes with a lot of pressure. This post breaks down how to structure the beginning, middle and end of your speech, with ideas for topics, jumping-off points and even a gimmick or two.

2. The Maid of Honor Speech: Do’s and Don’ts

The Ultimate Maid of Honor Speech: Do's and Don'ts

Speech writing and giving was such a large topic that I had to split it into two posts. If you’re looking for down and dirty tips for delivering the speech, I actually recommend this post over the first, which is more focused on the writing process.

3. Bachelorette Games: The Fiancé Quiz

Bachelorette Games: The Fiance QuizAfter the Maid of Honor Speech, you were most interested in bachelorette games. This is a classic, and is still my number one go-to for every kind of bachelorette party, be it a raucous destination weekend or a more intimate dinner with friends. It can even be adapted to a bridal shower—just make the question PG-13 for the daytime crowd.

4. Bachelorette Games: Bar Scavenger Hunt

Bachelorette Games: Bar Scavenger Hunt

Your fourth favorite post—with super-fun free printable checklist!

Ultimate Bridesmaid bachelorette bar scavenger hunt

5. Bachelorette Games: Most Likely To…

Bachelorette Games: Most Likely To

A hilarious game to play with a close-knit group of friends (even if its not a bachelorette party!).

6. 5 Simple Bridal Shower Games (that don’t suck)

5 Simple Bridal Shower Games (that don't suck)

I typically find bridal shower games to be incredibly boring, so I decided to pull together five not-lame options. Toilet paper wedding dresses are just not my jam. Being made to wear a hideous veil every time you let the word “bride” or “wedding” slip? Highly preferable. Maybe that’s just me.

7. A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Bachelorette Weekend

A step-by-step guide to planning a bachelorette weekend

This post was seriously a labor of love. I pulled from all of my experiences to put together all the details for organizing a bachelorette weekend, with a timeline and advice on how to coordinate a huge number of girls, find lodging, book dinners, plan events and keep everyone entertained.

8 and 9. Lingerie Shower and Mission Bachelorette Party!

IMG_1040These two posts make me a little bit nostalgic and bring back great memories because they are two of my very first posts on Ultimate Bridesmaid. Both talk about my own experiences planning parties, one for my friend Amanda’s lingerie shower in Atlanta and another for my friend Marisa’s bachelorette party in Savannah.

10. Six Dirty Details Bridesmaids Need to Know

Six Dirty Details Bridesmaids Need to Know

From your unofficial role as Designated Bride Bodyguard on bachelorette night to corset-lacing, bustling and the ol “help the bride pee” bit on wedding day, this list includes six parts of bridesmaiding you may not be looking forward to, but you’ll need to be prepared all the same!


Let me know what aspects of bridesmaid duties you want to know more about in the comments! I’ll have many new guides and articles in year 2.

Q&A: Writing a Speech for Your Parents’ Vow Renewal

Q: My parents are renewing their wedding vows and I will be the maid of honor and my brother is the best man. I’m having a hard time writing my speech as I am a little shy in front of crowds, and also because my parents (obviously) are so very close to me. I want it to be a very special moment.

A: Even though you are feeling a lot of pressure, I actually think you are really lucky to be giving a speech to your parents, and you have a lot of options! One of the hardest things about giving a good maid of honor speech is that sometimes we don’t know enough about the groom or the couple’s relationship to make the speech truly personal. We tend to have lots of memories with the bride, but not a ton of true insight into her relationship with her groom. But you’re in an amazing position—you’ve been around for many of the special moments in your parents’ lives! That said, I totally understand that making speeches can be intimidating. Here are a few ideas to help customize your speech and make the moment special for your family.

1. The first thing I would do is jot down a few notes of special memories that you have of your family. Think about the things that make you unique as a group—your traditions, your quirks, your favorite vacation, a famous mishap that you always tell at holidays. Then think about why those moments are special to you.

2. You can talk about what you’ve learned about marriage from your parents. As we grow up, we often subconsciously look to our parents to find out what makes a good marriage—and sometimes what doesn’t! This could be a heartwarming ending to your speech after sharing a story or two, to turn it back to what those stories taught you and how your parents have inspired you.

3. You could also team up with your brother and give a joint speech. It may take away some of the jitters to have him talking as well. Challenge each other to tell the sappiest story about your parents—or the silliest.

4. If public speaking is really freaking you out, or you just want to take a different route, you could also make a photo slideshow and narrate. You can pick funny or sweet photos of your parents that show their relationship from the beginning, including yourself and your brother. Everyone loves looking back at old memories and since all eyes will be on the images it might take a little of the pressure off you!

The Maid of Honor Speech: Do’s and Don’ts

Last week we went over the basic format for a maid of honor toast and some ideas and inspiration. This week, we’ll go through some all-important do’s and don’ts.

Do bring a glass up with you. After all, you are giving a toast, so you need a glass of something to toast with!

Don’t share stories you wouldn’t want to tell the bride’s grandmother. There’s always a temptation to share your most outrageous story about the bride. But if that story involves drugs, alcohol or sex, or any mixture of the three, fight the urge!! This most often happens with best man speeches, but I’ve seen it go down with maid of honor speeches too. The bride is mortified and it will not bring in the laughs you expected—trust me.

Do bring the speech back to the couple. Since you’ve been chosen as the maid of honor, chances are most of your memories revolve around the bride. It can be tempting to focus on her too much or to tell lots of stories about the two of you. But remember where you are and why you’re all there. It’s ok for your speech to be a bit bride-centric or to include one or two stories about your friendship. After all, you’re her best friend, sister or both! But make sure you bring the groom into the toast.

Don’t use inside jokes. Nothing is more annoying than a speech that’s unintelligible to 90 percent of the audience.

Do moderate your drinking before toast time. One or two drinks is fine (depending on your tolerance of course), but cut yourself off after that. A maid of honor slurring her speech, going off on a drunken tangent, adding inappropriate comments or (yes, this seriously happens) vomiting from a combination of nerves and alcohol is an instant party-downer. Continue reading