10 Maid of Honor Speech Ideas and Tips to Help You Give a Killer Toast

Knock your maid of honor speech out of the park with these tips.

Bride holding up a glass of wine during a reception toast

Giuseppe Marano

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 slew of 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 adequately express how you're feeling. 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.

As die-hard wedding enthusiasts, and staunch advocates of girl code and BFF love, we've taken it upon ourselves to create a go-to guide for penning the perfect speech to see your bestie off on her new life with her SO. Read on for 10 tips and guidelines to delivering an absolutely unforgettable maid of honor toast.

10 Tips for Your Maid of Honor Speech
Jiaqi Zhou/Brides

Maid of Honor Speech Template

First, let's get the right framework down for what you want to say. Once you have the right flow for your words, the delivery comes easily.

1. 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 her partner has changed your bestie for the better. Your speech needs to be about the friend you knew long before she met her partner, and then pivot to what role they have played in her life. Maybe she's even funnier now thanks to her new partner's sense of humor, or perhaps their support has empowered her to take risks in new ways. Maybe you've simply never seen your BFF so happy and content. This is also a great way to incorporate her new spouse into the speech if you don't really know them that well; speak to the way that they complement the bride or have made her a better person.

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. A story about your bestie's character and how great of a friend she has been goes much further than stating a phrase. It can be helpful to think of the speech in terms of one big theme, or several smaller themes, and then flesh it out with memories that highlight those to make sure the examples you choose to share are relevant to your overall message.

Remember that half of the guests won't know the bride all that well, so you can use this as a moment to really paint a picture of how amazing she is for them. Bring her incredible character to life through pertinent anecdotes and details that only you could know.

3. End with a positive outlook on their future. Again, the nature of this speech is not so much about your relationship with the bride, but about the bond that the couple shares together. Make sure that all of the separate components of your toast draw a positive conclusion, ending in how happy the couple is together and your best wishes for their marriage. An easy way to achieve this is to create a sort of skeleton for your speech of all the major points you want to make (like the themes mentioned above)—more or less creating a roadmap for your ideas—and then fill it in with supporting information.

Maid of Honor Speech Tips

Keep in mind these helpful tips to ensure you nail your maid of honor toast.

1. Ditch generic praise. Too often maid of honor speeches devolve into a series of generic compliments; and while this kind of typical praise might be true, it doesn't have a whole lot of heart... There's a big difference between simply saying, "She is such a great friend!" 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 after being dumped by your boyfriend. Again, you should use the toast as your moment to bring some dimension to the bride, and use stories to illustrate her very best characteristics and qualities.

2. Remember that it isn't about you. While a lot of the anecdotes you use 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. After you briefly introduce yourself (remember: most of the people probably won't know who you are or your relation to the couple), you really shouldn't be making any additional references to yourself. 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.

3. Do not mention exes. You may have a treasure trove of memories 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. Keep the tone of your speech positive and it will reflect, well, positively on you as well. You don't want to come across as a Negative Nancy or worse, like you're trying to roast the bride in front of everyone.

4. Keep it short. The longer your speech, the more opportunities you'll have for people to start losing attention and missing your jokes. The ideal speech length is between three and five minutes, this is plenty of time for you to make your introduction, share your theme and supporting anecdotes, and end with a call to have everyone join you in toasting the newlyweds.

5. 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. Keep in mind that starting the speech off on a funny note can help you capture the attention of the audience for a minute or two, but it's the meaningful content that will keep them enthralled until the end.

6. 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. It's okay to make a little bit of fun of the bride, maybe for her childhood taste in movies or music, but keep it light. Don't say anything that would be embarrassing or make her feel uncomfortable.

7. 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.

An epic speech is about more than just the words you choose to share, it's also about the body language that emphasizes your message. Practicing the toast in front of a mirror can help you nail your physical presence as you deliver your speech and ensure you're smiling and making eye contact the whole way through.

Get Brainstorming!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to start brainstorming ideas for your speech.

  • Who will be speaking before or after you, and how will this affect the content of your speech? (You might want to include a reference to their toast in your speech, thank them for an introduction, or introduce the next speaker.)
  • What would the bride want her in-laws and newly acquired family to know about her, and how can you attest to those qualities or characteristics from your own experiences with her?
  • What's a warm memory of the newlyweds that always makes you smile? (Think: If their relationship was a Hollywood movie trailer, what key moments would be featured.)
  • When you picture the couple's life together in a few years (or from this moment forward) what do you see? Is there any advice you can give them for their lifelong journey ahead?
  • Is there something you want to say to your bestie's new spouse? (Perhaps a few lighthearted tips on how to handle more trying situations that you've learned from your own experiences with her.)

Need more inspo before getting your thoughts down on paper? Check out some of these heartfelt quotes to incorporate into your maid of honor speech.

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