When I was asked by my soon-to-be sister-in-law to be her Maid of Honour, I was overwhelmed with emotion. She was choosing to place her faith in me, (ME!), on the most important day of her life. From this point on-wards, it was my duty to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.
I could deal with the wedding planning, in fact, I found that all too enjoyable. My brother and his soon-to-be wife would be enjoying some rare private time on a weeknight, only to be disrupted by a knock at the door. There I was, waiting to come inside, fluffy pen and notepad in hand, eager to get some ideas together.
Aside from giving practical support on her Big Day, like intercepting the cake, balloons, flowers, greeting the band, greeting the guests, (all of which will require an earpiece and microphone headset, Monica style), helping her into her corset and holding the train of her dress out of harm’s way, as Maid of Honour, I should also be there to give emotional support to the Bride. This is where the speech comes in. And this is the part I was not so excited for. I needed help!
I asked around for typical Maid of Honour speech ideas. I had never done this before, so was pretty clueless. A good friend of mine told me that my speech should be light-hearted, but from the bottom of my heart. I couldn't help but see this as a huge paradox. What did this mean?!
After spending countless nights drafting soppy after soppy speeches with cliche sayings like ‘I always knew you were made for each other’, I hit a brick wall. I wanted to avoid writing a generic speech, one that was predictable and mushy-gushy. This Bride and Groom are quite possibly the least gushy couple ever, and specifically wanted a sop-free wedding; even their chosen first dance is non-gushy. No hands around the waist, staring lustfully into each others’ eyes, and swaying side-to-side to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’. Nope, their first dance says ‘Robert and Amy’ from Everybody Loves Raymond.
The months passed, and I slowly began to panic. I needed to prepare a speech but had ZERO inspiration. I know that, traditionally, it’s the Best Man who is praised for his fantastic, witty and memorable speech, but there’s no written rule that says the Maid of Honour can’t steal the show.
What I wanted was an unpredictable, funny, yet sentimental and heartfelt way to show the Bride and her Groom that I loved them, and was honoured to play such a central part on their Big Day.
One problem though: I am the most EMOTIONAL person you’ll meet. I would be sobbing and sniveling at my first mention of ‘I remember meeting you for the first time’, knowing that, all those years ago, the Bride quickly and swiftly made her way to my heart, and became the sister I never had. I don’t think I could make it through my speech without melting in a pool of my own tears. The panic soon began to kick in, with the realization that I actually didn't think I could go through with it.
One rainy afternoon, whilst sat at my desk, procrastinating heavily on Facebook and writing the occasional paragraph of my assignment, I found the answer to my prayers. There, on my news-feed, was a viral video of an alternative Maid of Honour speech, which was both sentimental and fun, would be memorable to guests, and would hopefully get rid of the lump of emotion stuck in my throat.
This speech includes all of the standard ingredients for a Maid of Honour speech: anecdotes, memories and milestones, pinnacle moments in the Bride and Groom’s history, stories about the Bride (that she didn't even know you knew!), but with an exciting twist. When I saw this, I thought, Yes! I had hit the jackpot. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the evening reception.
So we’d have the 7-8 pm entry music, but not all that much dancing, as the guests will be busy chatting and congregating around the free bar, and it’s safe to say the first hour of weddings is usually quite civilized.
After that, we have the cutting of the cake, the first dance, and the Father and Daughter dance, all of the usual formalities. That takes us to 8:20pm. What now? Well we need somebody to kick start the party, get the guests laughing and break the ice. This is where I will come in.
So, Maid of Honours-to-be, I’ll walk you through it. Imagine you’re me. You've been keeping this a secret, only you and the other bridesmaids know. Why? Because they will be your backing dancers, of course. As the couples dances come to an end, the DJ blends in a bit of Motown, with the hope of getting the rest of the guests on their feet. Of course this fails miserably, and guests begin to skulk back to their seats, to the bar, and to the smoking area. They must be crazy! I don’t know about you, but My Girl by The Temptations is sure to get me on my feet, without fail.
You swiftly sweep across the dance floor, and over to the DJ deck, before anyone has a chance to sneak away. The music cuts out, with one swift scratch from the DJ, and you take the mic. You appease the crowd of confused faces with: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention? I’d just like to say a few words before we begin. You may have wondered why I failed to give a speech at the wedding breakfast. That’s because I have prepared a special speech, in honour of the Bride and Groom. I think right about now would be a great time to speak, so if I can ask you to be patient with me for a few minutes’.
You can just tell, from the looks on peoples’ faces, exactly what they’re thinking; ‘Ugh, not another speech’. They stand reluctantly, thinking ‘hurry up and get this over with’.
You give the DJ a casual nod, and he drops the beat. Just for the record, my chosen theme tune would be The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – a classic. Disco lights a-flashin’, and hip boppin’, you make your way to top of the dance floor, and and commence your rap-song-speech amalgamation. After the first verse, your bridesmaids gather behind you in a triangle formation, S Club 7 style.
And voilà! The guests will be hooked, listening intently, trying to catch all of the sentimental details you’re so fluently rapping out, and sharing some intimate giggles with one another at the comical references you’re making.
Before you know it, people will be on their feet, laughing, cheering, and breaking some moves... just make sure you choose a backing track with a good beat!
And most importantly, you’ll save yourself from ruining your make-up with a gush of tears. You’ll be so focused on getting the lyrics right, that the lump in your throat will be cleared by a rush of adrenalin.
What better way to commemorate the wedding day of your nearest and dearest, than to create a personalized memoir in their honour? Make sure somebody gets it on camera. It’ll be one of those clips that are re-played for years to come, or uploaded to YouTube with thousands of views. If you really want to push the boat out, you can hire a professional camera person to record a high quality, edited version. This can be your gift to the Happy Couple.
You might be a fan of the traditional Maid of Honour speech, in which case, I won’t have swayed you, but I hope you had some pleasure out of reading this post. For those of you who have been swayed, get your pens and pads at the ready, and prepare for a whole load of drafting and re-drafting. Mine took me three months to perfect. I now have one month to practice in front of the mirror with a hairbrush. Wish me luck!
Oh, and kudos to the young lady in the video; you’re the pioneer of a new generation of Maid of Honour speeches turned songs – good work.