Janell Burley Hofmann, July 08, 2013


My gorgeous, amazing, lovable younger sister got married on New Year’s Eve. Because I want the spirit & magic of her wedding to live on, I’m sharing the Maid of Honor speech I gave at the reception. I hope my love for her and Caleb oozes out of this. Even if you don’t know her, I hope this makes you fall in love.


There are very few people I place in the category of my sister Lindsey. I hold her close to my heart, in the highest regard. And because my love for her is so true and transcends great depths, I am tempted to stand here tonight and tell you every detail, every beautiful story, every wild night, every hysterical mishap.

I want you to know that as a child she slept cuddled with plastic toy reptiles. That she was a die hard WWF fan. That she hid candy under her hat during youth softball games. That her childhood styles varied from silly perms, to triple fat goose jackets, to giant skater jeans, to her infamous late night club fashions that she wore hidden under a hoodie so Mom wouldn’t know.

I want you to know that she loves Shark Week & Angry Birds more than anything. That she’s a picky eater, she likes her chicken cooked until it’s dry and her bacon extra crispy. She’s so sensitive, that one day at the mall she almost cried when she saw an old man drop his ice cream cone on the ground. She is wild and fun and could out party any of you. While a couple of drinks could do me in for the night, Lindsey’s just getting warmed up. She’s laid back, but every now and then she explodes into a swearing fury of rage. She’s fast with a comeback, there’s nothing she hasn’t heard or hasn’t said. She’s just so damn funny it sneaks up and bites you.

See, I want you to know all of this. But tonight, what I really need you to know, is that you will not find a more loyal person, a harder worker, a woman whose external beauty will turn your head, but inner beauty will bring you to your knees. She is gentle & quirky, honest & generous. She is a fighter. She stands firmly among us – the strong, fierce, capable women in our family that rise up to overcome, to get it done, to exceed all limitations. She is proud & independent, smart & creative. She is the kind of friend you want as a sister, the kind of sister you want as a friend. Kellie and I are lucky to have her as both. Her gifts are so plentiful and she is so humble, that sometimes I stand back in awe of all that she is, all that she has become.

When I see her with my children, as Auntie Z, my heart is so grateful. It is hard to explain what I witness when my children look up at her. They love and adore her. Her mere presence makes them wild & giddy, it is bliss. Without effort, she accepts them, enjoys them, she loves and protects them. And it’s just so natural. It is here that I see it. It is here, I see the mother she will someday become.

Lindsey is a beautiful reflection of both my mother and my father. She embodies the perfect combination of their greatest strengths. To Lindsey, there is nothing my parents could do wrong. She sees them with the innocence of a child and carries her love for them guarded close against the center of her heart. And see, my parents don’t know it, but they both look at Lindsey the same way. With the same gleam in their eyes – a look of pride, a look of affection, a look of sincere joy. See that is her way, that is Lindsey’s gift, she just brings out the best in people.

And then there was the day Lindsey called to tell me she had met Caleb. She told me, she had a feeling right away that he was the one. And she knew it sounded too good to be true. She said he was kind, he was generous, he was real, he was funny, he made her break all of her rules, he was more than she knew was even possible. And when we met Caleb, he came with bags of gifts, gingerbread houses, massive tins of popcorn, homemade wine and enough dinner to feed an army. He came to us with an open heart and with such sincere generosity that we called him “Santa Benham” for the first year we knew him, because everyday with Caleb felt like Christmas. He whistled his way into our lives with such ease that somehow we felt like we’d known him forever.

But none of this mattered, because I saw the way he looked at my sister. I knew he saw in her all of the beauty that I know. He held her up, where she belongs. I knew he would love her with the true intensity and commitment it takes to be a husband, it takes to be a man. And because of this, our family has always welcomed Caleb with open arms, as a son, a brother, as an uncle, a friend.

And while I know that Caleb is a gift to my sister, and I’m certain they will build a life together in partnership, today Caleb, it is you who is the luckiest man on earth. Because today you get to marry my sister Lindsey.