Cling cling cling. The glass is tapped, the room goes silent, and this is the one part of the night when everyone’s eyes are on the Maid of Honor, rather than on the bride. It’s time for the traditional Maid of Honor speech—no pressure, right?
Well fear not, because we’ve broken down the do’s and don’ts of putting together the perfect speech for toasting your number one girl and her new partner. From personal experience, from collecting the best suggestions from Love To Know Weddings and Bridesmaid 101, here are the basics to giving a Maid of Honor speech:
- Keep Your Audience in Mind The Maid of Honor speech is traditionally given during the first portion of the wedding reception, so you’ll be speaking to grandparents, children, best friends, siblings, and everyone in between. Avoid controversial topics like politics or religion, and keep in mind that the bride’s new family-in-law is present. Cracking jokes is great, but avoid any that have to do with past relationships or instances that would make the bride feel uncomfortable. It’s not uncommon for the Maid of Honor or other bridesmaids to give speeches during the bachelorette party as well, so maybe save your story about that one crazy night in college for that audience!
- Aim for Short and Sweet We know it can be hard to squeeze all the wonderful things you have to say about the new couple into a brief toast, but try to keep it under 5 minutes. You don’t want to lose the attention of the room, and—especially if there’s a plate of food in front of everyone—more than five minutes will seem too long.
- Practice Makes Perfect Even if you’re a confident public speaker and plan on adlibbing and just speaking from the heart when the moment comes, you should still have a general idea of a few points you want to touch upon. Whether it’s a childhood story with the bride you want to share, or a remark about the couple’s chemistry, run it by another person before the big day. Getting an outside opinion is the best way to gauge what the wedding party’s feedback will be when you actually give the speech.
- Be True to You Don’t feel pressured to give a knee-slapping, sidesplitting, hilarious speech if comedy isn’t your thing. Likewise, if you’re a goofy jokester, don’t feel pressured to go up there and recite a line of Shakespeare and speak in depth of the seriousness of love and marriage. It will seem forced if you’re not true to you, and the most important part of the Maid of Honor speech is that it comes from the heart. Be real—chances are you were chosen as the bride’s leading lady because she likes you and your style just the way it is.
- Easy on the Alcohol The last thing you want is to get a little too tipsy! Slurred speech, giggles, unnecessary tears–all could spell disaster. A glass of wine to calm the nerves can be great, but save any additional drinks until after you deliver your speech.
- Don’t Skim Over the Essentials As the pros over at The Knot will tell you, while originality and personalization is great, there are still a few points that should be covered in every toasting of the bride and groom. First off, introduce yourself for those in the room who don’t know your relationship to the bride, and thank the bride and groom for inviting you (and everyone else) to be part of such a special day in their lives. You might also want to mention how honored you are to have been chosen as Maid of Honor. Next, make sure to include well wishes for the couple’s future life together. This might include some words of advice, but if you’re not qualified to go there, don’t force it. When you conclude your speech, have some form of the traditional raising of the glass and say “to [insert the couple’s names here]!”
For a great example, check out this YouTube Video. Short, from the heart, hits the essentials, and even provokes some laughs—we think you’ll agree that this Matron of Honor nails it!
Any tips of your own? Share with us your wedding toast stories—the good and the cringe-worthy!