This post goes out to the beautiful Emily who needed a little help writing her maid of honor speech Whether you are a maid of honor, best man, parent, bride or groom it is best to have a plan. The couple usually decides who will speak, so if you want to make a toast make sure you express interest.
Photo Credit: Zoom Photography
Make sure your speech is between three and five minutes. Any longer and you will lose the attention of your audience. Make sure you choose an appropriate time (you should probably discuss this with the bride and groom before the event because they may have already planned a time for this). Prior to the meal being served or even after the first dance would work. Have the DJ or band leader make an announcement 5 minutes prior to the toast so guests can make sure they are seated. If you are seated where you feel everyone can see you, feel free to stand at your table and give the toast. You may feel more comfortable walking to the stage or dance floor to ensure full attention.
* I have a great trick that you should practice that I learned in a public speaking class in college. You will need a friend (or a few) to help you out with this. While you are practicing your toast, have your friends hold an empty can (a canned food can will work) in one hand and change (quarters work best) in the other. Instruct them to drop a quarter into the can every time you say “um, uh, mmm” or anything of the like. After going through your toast a few times, you will hopefully be able to say your toast without those fillers!
How to Write a Great Toast
First off, remember that the bride and groom are probably just as worried about toasting time as you are. They are a little nervous about you will say in front of their nearest and dearest. Giving a toast can me a very tough job. Making the couple feel special, while being funny and sentimental? Here’s how to do it.
What to Include
- Make sure you state who you are and how you know the bride or groom.
- Thank the hosts for having the event. Feel free to thank the parents of the bride and groom for creating such wonderful human beings.
- Tell a funny story or two about your friendship (Remember no one else understands your inside jokes). Talk about your relationship with the couple while keeping the focus on them.
- Talk about how perfect the bride and groom are for each other (you’ll probably get a lot of aww’s here) and how they compliment one another. You can add the story about how they fell for each other here.
- This is the tricky part. Sometimes….it can be fun to make fun of the groom. ONLY if you know he can take it well. First off, don’t take it too far. Limit the jokes to bad dancing skills and his love for The Bodyguard. Here comes the warning. DO NOT MAKE FUN OF THE BRIDE unless you know 100% that she will not be completely embarrassed and upset with you. This can lead to very bad things. Boy’s, I know it’s not fair, but this is how the world works…
- Remember there are grandma’s in the audience, nothing you wouldn’t want your grandma to hear. Keep it PG. (and no references to Ex’s).
- Feel free to talk about the future of the bride and groom and any relationship advice you may have. Throw in quotes, lyrics, poems or religious passages.
- Close the speech with a great last line. Raise your glass, look at the couple and say “Here’s to [names of the couple],” then take a sip.
How to Stay Calm
- Please don’t get drunk before your toast. I’ve been to too many weddings where the maid of honor or best man is wasted before they even stand up to speak and I can tell you with 100% certainty, it ruins the speech, makes you look stupid and is completely disrespectful to the bride and groom.
- Notecards can be useful. I would jot down key points to eliminate nervous reading. Use a good thick sheet of paper so guests can’t see you shaking. You may want to highlight sections in different colored highlighter so if you loose your spot you’ll know where to go, just divide it by sections.
- Slow down. Before you start, take a deep breath and look around the room. Make eye contact with the bride or groom (remember one of them is your best friend, they are there for you!) Try and talk at a good speed, everyone wants to be able to hear what you have to say, otherwise you wouldn’t be making a toast.
- If you get a laugh (yay!), don’t try and keep talking over the noise. Take a second (try not to laugh at your own joke, or you could end up looking like me, I think I’m hilarious), and use this as a boost of confidence to get through the rest of your speech. If people don’t laugh at you, it’s okay (remember they are very likely cracking up on the inside). The thing not to do, is look up with a hesitation after every joke you make waiting for people to laugh. That way, if the line was a flop, no one can actually prove it was supposed to be funny.
- The best thing you can do is practice. Practice in front of as many people as you can. It will make you more comfortable with what you have to say and it will flow off your tongue when you are ready for the big moment.
- If this is something you are really uncomfortable with, keep it short and simple and throw something extremely heart-felt in there. If you make someone cry you get 50 bonus points! (Just kidding.)
- When in doubt, Wedding Crashers has some great pointers so go sign up for Netflix.
Tips for The Bride and Groom
- Funny story. I went to a wedding right after I turned 21 and as soon as I sat down a waiter came by with a tray of champagne, I got excited and gulped it back. Then came time for toasts. I watch everyone raise their glass and then realize Whoops! For this very reason, and for guests that get a little too excited about champagne, have the waiters pour the champagne right before the toasts are being made.
- What should you do why the people you love are basking in your glory? PAY ATTENTION! Make sure you are engaging with your eyes, laugh at their jokes and smile because you must realize this could be very hard for the toast giver. Most people don’t like speaking in public so giving them your full attention will make them feel more comfortable.
- When the person giving the toast is done, let them and everyone raise their glass to you, they will take a sip, and then you should take a sip, but not until after everyone else has.
Here is a video of my brother-in-law’s speech at his best friend’s wedding. I think he does a pretty good job
Brad’s Best Man Speech
Good luck Em! I know you’ll do awesome!
P.S. You should probably video tape your speech so everyone can see how awesome you did.
Credits: Brides, TheKnot, InStyle Weddings