Follow these seven steps to craft a heartfelt message that honors the newlyweds.
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If you've been chosen as your bride's maid of honor, you two probably have quite the history. Whether you're sisters who've shared a childhood or college roommates who dormed together all four years (and post-grad!), it's obvious that your bond is a special one. To support your best friend on her journey to the big day, you've pitched in when needed—you've picked up the bridesmaid dresses, mediated wedding party drama, and been there for every DIY favor session.
On the big day, just a few of your maid of honor duties remain: holding the bride's bouquet as she exchanges vows, helping her use the bathroom in that ball gown, and, perhaps most importantly, delivering a speech that adequately congratulates the newlyweds.
If you're used to public speaking—or at the very least, don't fear it—you're likely confident about this particular responsibility. But don't get overconfident. You may have a lifetime of memories with the bride, and you might be the queen of comedy, but the maid of honor speech definitely requires some planning. That's why we've put together this comprehensive, to-the-point guide to writing the perfect wedding toast. Here, you'll discover everything there is to know about brainstorming what to say (and what not to say!), knowing your audience, and everything in between.
A quick tip, before we get into the semantics: be mindful of time. We've all been to those weddings with speeches that drone on and on. Believe us, guests—the bride and groom, included—will check out the second you exceed the minute-and-a-half mark, so be sure to make the most of the time you have. Without further ado, your guide to the perfect maid of honor toast.
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Rome wasn't built in a day, which means your speech definitely shouldn't be written in one. Crafting a heartfelt toast is just that—a craft. Scrawling a few notes on a cocktail napkin the night before isn't going to cut it, especially if you're trying to properly honor your best friend or sister. Begin thinking about what you want to say—and how you want to say—in the weeks leading up to the wedding, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice and get feedback from your fellow bridal party members.
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If you're having trouble getting started, a general blueprint for hitting the most crowd-pleasing notes is helpful. First, be sure to introduce yourself and establish you connection to the bride. Then segue into a lighthearted anecdoate that showcases your bond, a favorite moment, or her very quest qualities. Before wishing the couple a lifetime of love and happiness, be sure to remind the groom what a lucky guy he is—and, of course, how lucky your best friend is to have found him. Finish out by wishing the newlyweds a lifetime of happiness as you encourage guests to raise their glasses. Easy!
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When you're brainstorming talking points, keep in mind that a few should be off-limits—namely, the bride's laundry list of unmentionable exes. Even if it's your attempt at humor, bringing up past flames comes off as distasteful. (If you're on the fence about whether a punch line is appropriate, turn the tables and imagine that the story stars you and is being told in front of your parents and dear old Grandma. If you’re cringing, your best friend probably will, too.) And while inside jokes have their place, they're better suited to the bachelorette party. Don't alienate your audience by making a joke that only two people in the room will get.
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Write It Down
We're not talking a word-by-scripted-word approach here. But do come up with a list of bullet points or an outline that you can glance down at if you get stuck. This will help you stay on topic and prevent you from having to rely on your wits alone. Consider this a friendly warning: Ad-libbing your way through a speech is a (very awkward) disaster waiting to happen.
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Time It Right
No matter how charming you are, no one wants to listen to you drone on and on—which is how it might seem if your toast exceeds the 90-second mark. Try to keep reign it in and keep the speech right around one minute (that's the sweet spot!). And while you're at it, remember to slow it down, especially if you know you're prone to speed-talking when you're nervous. If you think it'll help, write "breathe" on your cheat sheet in between talking points.
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The bride may be your lifelong best friend or sister, but you and everyone else are there to celebrate a couple—not just one person. After talking about how great she is, give the groom a few seconds of praise, even if you don't know him that well. It can be as simple as expressing your joy over seeing your friend so happy beside him, which is all you've truly ever wanted for her.
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Wrap It Up
This is the point where reciting a quote or song lyric can work to your advantage—it pulls the entire speech together. But whatever you do, end on a high note: Raise your glass, and give your blessings to the newlyweds by wishing them a lifetime of wedded bliss.