There’s no better time to raise a glass and laud a favorite couple than on their wedding day, and speeches offer the perfect opportunity for loved ones to share their happiness for the newlyweds as they start their new life together. Embrace this time-honored tradition with the following tips and you’ll likely contribute to some of the most memorable moments of the weekend.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Since the rehearsal dinner is a casual get-together with close friends and family, this is the time for more informal speeches. Here are some things to keep in mind:
After a few words from the host (usually the groom’s parents), the floor is open for speakers. This is the opportune time for bridesmaids, groomsmen and siblings, as well as anyone else who wants to speak, to seize the moment and toast the happy couple.
Embarrassing speeches, as hilarious as some people might find them, are bound to leave a bad taste in some guests’ mouths. Resist the urge to bring up past relationships, inside jokes, drunken anecdotes or anything else that might make people cringe. Humor is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, but make it sincere.
Speak from the heart! Even if you trip up your words a little, they’ll come across more genuinely if it doesn’t feel rehearsed.
On that note, practice a few times until it’s familiar and try to avoid reading from a note card.
The reception is a more formal, time-sensitive setting that should be limited to traditional speeches. Here are some things to keep in mind:
The time for toasts should be decided by the bride and groom prior to the wedding. Many couples reserve the time before or after cutting the cake, while others choose to have the speeches once everyone is seated for the meal. Generally, any time when people are gathered or in their seats is ideal.
The couple should delegate the order of toasts well before the wedding so each person knows when to speak. Traditionally, here’s how it should go:
Maid of honor
Groom or bride, or both together
Parents (the hosting party should speak first)
2-3 minutes is an appropriate time limit. Keep it short, sweet and above all, genuine.
Make it count! When else will you have this kind of opportunity?
Many years ago I was asked to be a maid of honor in the wedding of a friend who I had lost touch with over the years. The request in itself was quite a surprise, as we hadn’t spoken in some years, but I thought of it as an honor and accepted. At the time I hadn’t attended any weddings in my adult life and I just didn’t know what to expect. I was living many states away from the bride-to-be and therefore wasn’t really involved in any of the pre-planning.
The wedding day came, and the ceremony was beautiful. As I sat at the front table with the bride and groom at the reception, suddenly the serenity changed to panic. Abruptly, the microphone was handed to me to give the maid of honor speech. I stood there frozen like a deer in headlights. What?! A speech?! No one ever told me about that part! I fumbled through (I still have no idea what I said to this day!), standing there sweating and wondering if people were cringing at my on-the-spot speech. I vowed that the next time I would know my responsibilities, and for goodness sake prepare for the speech! Lesson learned.
I’d like to help all of you avoid my painful mistake and leave you with a few helpful tips when it comes to writing your maid of honor speeches:
Decide what technique works best for you. Do you want to have humor in your speech, or just stick to the more sentimental type?
Don’t go at it on your own. Do talk with the bride about what she would prefer to hear in the speech.
Slowly gather thoughts and ideas and write them down. Do this even months in advance so that you have plenty of time to compile, edit and come up with a rough draft.
Keep the speech upbeat. If you’ll be telling stories aboutthe bride, make sure they’re not embarrassing ones! If you want to include a funny embarrassing story, be sure to run it by the bride first.
Practice, practice, practice. Go through the whole speech in front of a friend and ask for herinput.
Put your speech on note cards. Whether you’ll need to look at them or not, it’s nice to have the backup if you find your nerves getting the best of you.
When the big day arrives, save the cocktails for after your speech. No need to embarrass yourself. Okay, maybe one glass of wine to help with the jitters.
Remember, everyone is there to celebrate and have a good time. No one will be judging you—they’ll be enjoying listening to you speak from your heart!
Carey Gordon, MBA, is a blogger for The Dessy Group. Originally from the Midwest, her work in Marketing and Communications has taken her to positions abroad in both the UK and Cyprus. She is currently based in Berkeley, CA.
A maid of honor too shy to utter a single word. Groomsmen who refuse to stop talking. Fathers who burst into tears in the middle of their speeches—I’ve seen wedding toasts turn bad in too many ways to count.
But, despite all the rest, if there’s one type of toaster that I find wholly inappropriate—if not downright subversive—it’s the bridesmaid or groomsman who insists on “embarrassing” the bride and groom with a story no one else thinks is funny.
Sharing, for instance, that the bride used to only date tanned, six foot-tall, 250 pound body builders before marrying her scrawny little pale husband isn’t going to charm or delight anyone at the wedding. Similarly, if you had to help the groom choose between the bride and her roommate when he first asked her out, that’s a story you should never EVER tell the bride—let alone her entire extended family.
I always want to slink away whenever an embarrassing speaker has the floor. What about you? Do you think it’s okay to share inside jokes and other embarrassing stories during your wedding toast? Where do you draw the line? Rant or rave about it!
The best man’s wedding toast can either be a highlight of the reception or a horribly awkward lull. To make sure that the best man at your wedding delivers the charming speech you know he is capable of, forward him these links and help direct the course of his delightful musings on the bride and groom:
-Want to make sure he’s prepared? Show him this YouTube video of one of the WORST best man speeches ever caught on tape. This poor guy even made it on the Style Network as an example of a wedding toast gone wrong!
-Ease his pain after the first YouTube video with this great best man speech. We love the super sweet toast he gives at the beginning, and that his jokes are tasteful, funny and at the groom’s expense!
-Now that you’ve given him something to aspire to, send him The Knot‘s step-by-step instructions for crafting a great best man speech.