When Zenie first asked me to be her maid of honor, I was elated. What an honor!
Then I got scared. OMG, what was a maid of honor supposed to do? And wasn’t there a speech involved?
So I googled how to write such a speech, and tried drafting one in my head. Then I realized that the wedding was months away and wasn’t I a tad overreacting? So I put off doing it until the night before the wedding, when there was a blackout and I couldn’t google for help anymore. Waaahhh.
So I just went with my gut and started typing out my speech on a note in my phone.
By the time the lights had come back on, I had finished my speech. I read it out loud, timing myself. 4 minutes and 31 seconds. The coordinator had told me I had 5 minutes.
The next day, when my name was called out by the emcee, I walked up to the podium with my phone in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, then I took the microphone and started to speak.
I was tasked to tell the love story of the bride & groom, so I will have to warn you in advance that this might take a while.
My friendship with Zenie started around the same time that her relationship with John did, so I was there to witness how it all began.
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t really there to witness it in person because it all happened in Basilan, but I was there to listen to Zenie talk about it, and I remember it all very clearly.
Okay, I’m lying. I don’t. It was so long ago that while I vaguely remembered some of the details, my aging brain was already fuzzy on the rest, so I had to ask John and Zenie to give me a refresher. #signsofaging am I right?
But can you really blame me? It happened 15 years ago. I know, can you believe it? 15 years! That’s a really long time, isn’t it?
I once told Zenie that if their love story was a movie, their theme song should be “Teenage Dream.” Nowadays, people who end up with their teenage sweethearts are rare, especially those who have stayed together through all that time, without breaking up, which is the case for these two.
But wait, there’s more. That’s not the only rare thing about their relationship. They also defied the long distance relationship odds by being in an LDR for almost 10 years.
I know, right? They should be on the Guiness Book of Records or something.
So how did it all begin?
It all started in a tricycle and a motorcycle. While Zenie was in a tricycle, she glanced outside at a guy in a motorcycle who stared at her. She thought he was cute. He thought the same about her.
This happened several more times afterwards, but since they were always just passing by each other, they didn’t think it would amount to anything.
Then one day, John was invited to a fiesta in his mother’s co teacher’s house. At first he didn’t want to go, but he finally did.
While he was inside her house, he was surprised when the door opened and in came the mysterious tricycle girl – she turned out to be the daughter of the owner.
The rest, as they say, is history. They officially became a couple on May 31, 2000. I am not going to tell their whole story because 15 years is a long story to tell and we don’t want to be breaking the Guiness book of record for longest maid of honor speech.
But please allow me to share one small part of their story, one that I really did get to witness myself this time.
It happened on Valentine’s 2006. Zenie and I were living as roommates in Makati City then, when I got a text from John. He asked if I could please help him give Zenie a Valentine’s Day surprise.
I happily agreed, and I even got all our housemates in on it. I pretended to ask the girls what they wanted for Valentine’s, and when Zenie said she liked teddy bears, I asked for her help to buy one for “my boss’s girlfriend,” I said.
So we went to a store where she fell in love with a very cute yellow teddy bear. So I bought that and had it wrapped.
At midnight, there was a knock on our door, and we told Zenie there was a delivery for her. It turned out to be our housemate Junjun with her Valentine’s bear from John. Zenie was so surprised.
It was at that moment, I suppose, when I realized how much John really cared for Zenie. He and I were not that close, but he went out of his way to contact me to get to her, because he knew that was the way to make her happy.*
I’ve noticed that the healthiest relationships are those of couples who don’t obsessively keep to themselves but rather, learn to adapt to each others’ communities.
Our Religious Studies teacher Sir Emir once said that a marriage is not just the union of two people, but two families, and, I’d like to add, two communities.
Today, John and Zenie are joined in matrimony, and in a way, so is each and everyone of us who are here.
With that, may I ask everyone to join me in a toast to this couple that brought all of us here together today?
Let’s raise our glass to John and Zenie – may their love be like this wine – not that it is slightly bitter and sweet, or powerful and intoxicating – though it is all that, too, but that the older it becomes, the better it tastes.
Cheers to the newlyweds!
After I sat down, the emcee said, “That may not have been the longest maid of honor speech ever, but it was certainly one of the best ones I’ve ever heard.”
Whether or not he truly meant what he said, I was happy with how my speech turned out (*even though there was a moment that I nearly cried and broke the bride’s rule).
So here’s what I learned about maid of honor speech writing:
(1) You may ask the bride beforehand about what she expects from you. Does she want you to tell their love story or will someone else already do that?
(2) Write the speech down, even if it is last minute. Winging it is a no-no. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to do impromptu speeches, and even if you think you are, you do not want to run the risk of taking too long or saying something embarrassing or getting mental block and humiliating not just yourself, but the bride, too.
(3) Practice the speech and time yourself. Try to keep it between 3 to 5 minutes because people have really short attention spans and might feel stabby if they’re hungry and you take too long.
(4) Start off light and insert a few jokes to get the audience’s attention. Try not to speak in a monotone as this is the easiest way to bore people.
(5) Include interesting/funny/touching tidbits about the bride and groom’s relationship. Mention why you think they make a good couple or what made you realize just how much they love each other, then, like a good blog post, tie that up neatly into a lesson or insight, and conclude on a thought-provoking note.
Then that’s it! Good luck! 🙂