Cheat Sheet to Ace Your Maid of Honor Speech

If the idea of standing up in front of all those people frazzles your nerves, don't panic—these tips will help you write a toast you’ll be excited about.
By: 
Sharon Naylor

bridesmaid giving toast
Photo Credit: Jessica Lauren Photography

 

What to Say

 

The words make the wedding. No matter how gorgeous the cake or flowers are, it's the toasts that fill the day with heart. Here's how to create an unforgettable start to the celebration.

The Opening

  • DO open with who you are and how you know the bride. Not everyone in the room is from her side, and it creates a sense of connection to you and what you’re about to say.
  •  DON'T feel like you have to open with a joke. Forget that misguided advice often given by corny uncles; It’s better to lead with sentiment and sweetness rather than a gimmick that can fall flat.

What to Say About the Bride

  • DO share a brief story on what you love most about the bride. Talk about positive attributes, such as how she lights up any room and is the first one to help a friend in need.
  • DON'T say, “Finally, she met the man of her dreams” or any other phrasing that indicates she may be the last one out of your friends to find her mate. That’s a big no-no!

Her Love Story

  • DO briefly share how you knew she met The One. And this is where your funny story comes in, like how she started to use some of his catchphrases: “When Jen came home from a date with Evan and used the word ‘rad,’ we knew she was gone over him!” Or how she started to take an interest in his interests and passions (and the moment you spotted him in bike shorts, ready to take on one of her hobbies as well).
  • DON'T refer to how her partner is different from former boyfriends, such as “None of Jen’s other beaus ever wanted to put on biking shorts!” Never refer to any exes, period — even if you’re trying to be funny. Yes, Jen dated some clunkers, but you can save that for the bachelorette party roast.

Next, It's the Groom's Turn

  • DO say what you love about the groom, like how he treats her like gold, how sweet he is to her family, and how well he fits in with your circle of friends.
  • DON'T make that awful, cliché joke about wanting to clone him so that you can date him, or—even worse—say that “If it doesn’t work out between you two, you know where to find me.” Someone’s likely to throw a fish fork at you, and you'll deserve it.

It Takes Two

  • DO focus on addressing BOTH the bride and groom in your speech, not just the bride. 
  • DON'T talk about yourself. It’s a huge flop of a toast if you were to say, “Well, with Jen so busy with Evan, and me finishing up medical school—at the top of my class, 90-hour weeks, you know—we haven’t spent much time together lately, but it’s like she’s always with me. I know that she’s there for me 100% in whatever I’m doing with my life.” How self-centered! Guard youself against using too many "I's" and "me's."

Keep the Charm, Cut the Crass

  • DO keep it classy and elegant, since you’re speaking to a room full of their relatives and friends; share only positive stories that cast the bride in the best light possible.
  • DON'T insert thinly-veiled "inside jokes" such as referring to "That time in Cabo." It’s a heinous error and cruel to hint at the bride’s wild, party days during this important moment in her life. Even if this is your style of joking around, skip the inside jokes. 

Then They Lived Happily Ever After

  • DO wish them wonderful things in their future: A lifetime of love and joy, surrounded by family and friends who love them, for all of their wishes to come true and a life of ease and abundance.
  • DON'T just abruptly say, "Cheers!" to wish them luck and then sit down. You don't want your ending to be anti-climactic.

The End

  • DO have a distinct ending to your toast; something sweet like a classic quote or song lyrics that "tag" your toast with an unforgettable, iconic saying.
  • DON'T forget to prepare your closer. Too many toast-givers tend to ramble on and on, spinning their wheels for a clincher at the end...awkward!

Next: 10 steps to nail your delivery >>