You've been asked to play a huge role in your best friend's wedding—you're the maid of honor! But being the maid of honor definitely comes with its important tasks, including giving the maid of honor speech.
You and your BFF have been through everything together, and this is the big day to truly celebrate them. But if you're not used to giving speeches, the whole idea of getting up in front of a crowd can be a little nerve-wracking, let alone the pressure of finding the perfect words to say. But with a few tips and tricks, along with plenty of time and practice, your maid of honor speech will go off without a hitch. Read on for 10 tips on delivering an absolutely unforgettable maid of honor toast.
1. Ditch Generic Praise
Too often maid of honor speeches devolve into a series of generic compliments: "She's the best!" "She's so pretty!" "She's so funny!" While all of this might be true, this kind of typical praise doesn't have a whole lot of heart. Use the toast as your moment to bring the bride to life, and use stories to back up exactly how the bride embodies all of these qualities.
2. Become an Awesome Storyteller
There's a reason stories are passed down from generation to generation—they resonate with people. We don't remember numbers or generic advice. But stories? They stick with us. They breathe life into the couple and do a better job of getting your point across than making a blanket statement.
There's a big difference between simply saying "She is such a great friend! She'd do anything for me!" versus telling the story about the time your BFF got a loan from the family she babysat for so she could visit you in your dorm room after being dumped by your boyfriend. A story about their character and how great of a friend they have been goes much further than stating a phrase.
3. Remember That It 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. Do Not Mention Exes
You may have a treasure trove of stories about your best friend's dating life, but this is definitely not the place for it. Although there's probably no doubt that some of these tales are hysterical, they're also embarrassing. 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 into how much their partner has changed your friend for the better. Your speech needs to be about the friend you knew long before they met their partner, and then pivot to what role they have played in your friend's life. Maybe they're even funnier now thanks to their new partner's sense of humor, or perhaps their support has empowered them to take risks in new ways. Maybe you've simply never seen your BFF so happy and content. Include those notes and draw a conclusion, ending in how happy the couple is together.
6. Keep It Short
The longer your speech, the more opportunities you'll have for people to start losing attention and missing your jokes. Start the speech off on a funny note and you'll capture the attention of the audience for a minute or two.
7. Pause After Delivering a Joke
Whenever you say a joke, be sure to pause for a few seconds afterward to let the audience laugh. When you tell a joke and then immediately start speaking right afterward, you won't give people a chance to laugh or even understand what you're about to say next.
8. Don't Use Inside Jokes
You and the bride may have shared some incredibly funny moments that still make you laugh out loud to this day. But, if the joke or the situation is something other wedding guests would have to be there to understand, avoid using it in your speech. If people don't understand the context behind a situation or a joke, it will probably go over their heads.
9. Poke a Little Fun
It's okay to make a little bit of fun of the bride, maybe for their childhood taste in movies or music, but keep it light. Don't say anything that would be embarrassing or make them feel uncomfortable.
Leave out any embarrassing anecdotes about the bride or anything else that can make her look anything other than fabulous on her big day.
10. Practice Reading Your Maid of Honor Speech
The more times you practice your speech before the wedding day, the better it will sound when you read it for real. Practice your speech twice a day and record yourself a couple of times so you can hear your pacing and your tone. The more times you do this, the easier it will be when you do it in person. You'll feel confident because you'll have practically committed the words to memory. Rehearse the speech in front of friends, too, in order to see if your jokes get a laugh.