Being part of a close friend's wedding party is usually a truckload of laughs, cries, and meaningful moments you won't soon forget. But if you're chosen as the maid-of-honor, be prepared to participate in the wedding to an even greater extent than the rest of the bridal party, including, quite possibly, writing a speech and giving a toast. If you don't know what to say in a maid-of-honor toast, don't panic. Coming up with the right words to express yourself isn't as tough as you might think.
Although condensing the growth and love that comes from several years of friendship into a few-minutes-long speech may seem impossible, here are some tips that will ensure your thoughts and emotions come across in an entertaining, genuine, and well-organized way.
Give Yourself Plenty Of Prep Time
One of the most important parts of writing a good speech is giving yourself plenty of time to put it together. This is definitely not something you want to leave until the last minute. Plus, being well prepared will help relax some of your nerves in the moment, ensuring your delivery is solid.
It can also be helpful to experiment with different tones. Do you want to be funny? Sentimental? A little bit of both? Either way, the brainstorming phase is your chance to play around with different ideas.
Keep It Brief
While a maid-of-honor speech should not feel rushed, avoid writing something too long. After all, several friends and family members may be giving speeches too. "The longer your speech, the more opportunities you'll have for people to start losing attention and missing your jokes," wrote Pennebaker and Glantz, who recommended keeping your speech 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."
Make Sure You're Telling A Story
Although your speech should definitely paint a positive, loving, and complimentary view of your friend, according to former speechwriter Teal Pennebaker and founder of Bridesmaid for Hire Jen Glantz, it's important to avoid speaking too generally. "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...," the two wrote on Brides. "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."
Focus On Your Friend & Their Relationship With Their Partner
There are tons of different ways you can weave memories, positive stories about your friend, and well wishes for the couple into a coherent format. Pennebaker and Glantz recommended focusing on your friend in the beginning of the speech and ending on a note about the couple. "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," they wrote. "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."
Remember: Weddings should be fun, and you're not there to bear any bad news. Your speech, while important, is ultimately just an opportunity to dote on your friend in front of their loved ones. It should be (say it with me!) fun! Write your speech on your Notes App so you don't lose it, and speak from the heart. Your friend will love what you have to say as long as it feels authentic — trust.