Photo: Meredith Perdue
At most weddings, the the best man typically claims the "best toast of night" honors. His speech tends to be a mix of roasting the groom, as well as a few good-hearted sentiments for the new couple. And while the maid of honor gives a toast as well, it usually veers towards the standard, sweet script (read: forgettable) to ensure there are no hurt feelings — but it doesn't have to be that way! The MOH's speech can (and should!) be just as fun, heart-warming, and if not more memorable's than the guys. It just takes some thought. Here, a quick guide to stealing the show with your toast.
1. Ditch the Generic Praise
Too often maid of honor speeches devolve into a series of platitudes: "She's the best!" "She's so pretty!" "She's so funny!" While all of this might be true, this kind of generic praise doesn't have any heart. A guy you went on a date with the other night was "so funny"; your dog is "the best"; your obnoxious cousin is "so pretty." Use the toast as your moment to bring the bride to life. So, use stories to back up exactly how the bride embodies all of these qualities. This leads us to the next tip...
2. Become an Awesome Story Teller
There's a reason stories are passed down from generation to generation — they resonate. We don't remember numbers. Or platitudes. Or generic advice. Stories stick with us. They breathe life into the bride and the groom — and do a better job of getting your point across than making a blanket statement.
"Sarah is such a great friend! She'd do anything for me!"
"When we were freshmen in college — thousands of miles apart and penniless — I had just been dumped by a boyfriend. I was devastated and spent my days crying. Sarah got a loan from the family she babysat for so she could come and visit me. She spent four days, sleeping on my dorm room floor, reminding me of how much better off I would be, but that it would take time to get there."
See the difference?
3. Remember: This Isn't About You
While a lot of the stories you tell should be about your time with the bride, you should not be the focal point. There's nothing worse than a speaker who goes on and on about herself! You hear about her parents; her ideas for the future; how she overcame adversity and then finally — finally! — she mentions the bride. This isn't your moment. You're simply the vehicle to explain why the newlyweds are so fantastic. Only bring yourself into the mix as necessary, and instead focus on the couple of the hour.
4. Leave the Ex-Boyfriends in the Vault
You have a treasure trove of stories about your best friend's dating life. The guy who claimed he was an attorney, when in fact he was just taking the LSAT. The guy who insisted he be called "El Jefe" whenever they got intimate. The guy whose mommy issues were so bad that he called his mom the morning after they hooked up. There's no doubt that these tales are hysterical, but they're also embarrassing. Think about it: Do you want your grandma knowing about your rolodex of guys from years past? No one wants to be reminded of their dating failures, particularly in front of their families, friends and new life partner. So, as tempting as it is, save the ex-talk for your next girls' night.
5. Start with the Bride, End with the Couple
You're likely giving a speech because you've been extremely close to the bride for a long time. Of everyone at the wedding, you have the best insight of how much the groom has changed your friend (hopefully for the better — if not, find some way in which for the better!). Your speech needs to be about the friend you knew long before the groom, and then pivot to what role the groom has played in your friend's life. Maybe she's even funnier now thanks to her new husband's sense of humor or his support has empowered her to take risks in new ways.
The point is that your toast should have an arc. Here's a quick outline:
- "This is who my friend has always been."
- "Then she met the groom."
- "And not only is my friend still fantastic in the ways I laid out before, but now she's even more wonderful because of the groom in these ways."
- "I'm so glad you found each other."
Stories, of course, will make each of these bullet points better, and ensure that you give a well-balanced (you want some laughs, followed by some tears of joy!) toast that the bride, groom, and guests will remember for years to come.