Photography By Gold Grid Studios

Print this feature out for your Maid of Honor or Best Man!

The clinking glasses, the bright lights, the camera on your face, the microphone in your hand – giving a speech is not for the faint of heart. But, as a matter of tradition, you’re expected to stand up there in front of everyone and single-handedly make the crowd both laugh and cry through a dynamic three minute toast. That is, if you don’t pass out first.

The best way to make it through a Maid of Honor, Best Man, Parent of the Wedding, or any other speech is simple: just be prepared. You were asked to speak on such an important day because the couple loves you and knows you can handle it.

But just in case you’re not as sure of yourself as they are, we put together a few tips on how to craft the best toast ever.

Gather Intel – If you are a Best Man or Maid of Honor, it’s likely that you’re very close with one of the nearly-weds. However, you may not have known his or her intended since you shared a PB&J on the playground in second grade. Emily Vandevender, founder of Toast Points, says, “Relate your toast to the couple and not just one person.” Make the effort to meet with your couple and talk with both parties. Ask them questions about how they met and fell in love – you might get a new take on a story you thought you knew. Gather as much information about both people as you can so you have plenty of ammo to make fun of– oops, we mean “honor” them.

Put the Pen to Paper – Or fingers to keyboard, or thumbs to phone, or whatever works for you. Put on your stretchy pants, grab some M&Ms, turn off the TV, and really focus on starting the writing process. Start by just jotting down all the things you learned about your friends on your intel-gathering adventure. Write down quotes that mean a lot to you, stories about your friends, memories from your shared history. Just write everything down. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not – we’ll get to that.

Just Walk Away – Trust me on this. No matter how glorious your jokes feel after the first pass, you’re going to want to let them rest and check back a day or two later. That story about that one time in Vegas may not be such a hit to the groom’s grandma. Give your ideas a little time to percolate.

Red Pen Round – “Give yourself plenty of time to make revisions and adjustments,” says Vandevender. “Don’t wait until the last minute.” So, as unpleasant as it may seem, now is the time to go through those three full pages of stream-of-consciousness babble. Grab a highlighter or ready your backspace button. It’s time to do some editing. Consider taking out any jokes that could be misconstrued as inappropriate, but leave in the ones that gently poke fun at the couple. Get rid of anything that might sound a little too odd if you’re on the outside of that inside joke, but do keep the stories about how your pals made you laugh until milk came out of your nose.

Craft a Final Draft – At this point, you should have a clear idea of what will be going into your final speech. Do any reworking that you need to and make sure that you’ve covered these points before hitting print:

-Welcome guests and introduce yourself -Explain how you know the couple -Offer some kind words about them -Share a personal anecdote -Wish them well in their future -Make a toast to the newlyweds

Read It Out Loud – They say practice makes perfect, and they’re right. Reading the speech out loud gives you a chance to make sure the words you selected feel natural. If any “you are” statements feel clunky, don’t be afraid to use “you’re.” This isn’t high school English class – contractions are acceptable.

We also highly suggest reading it out loud for another person. This is a really helpful tool for fine-tuning your speech, and it has the added bonus of preparing you to talk in front of a crowd. Watch their reaction and gauge how your stories and jokes are going over. If your practice audience seems confused, it’s likely that your real audience will be, too.

Mic Drop – The moment has come to blow them away with your amazing oration. Make sure you have your notes – and a glass to toast with – easily accessible from the moment you enter the reception. When the band or DJ announces your speech, pretend they’re also playing the Rocky theme song in the background. This is your moment!

At this point, someone will hand you a microphone. Don’t freak out. Pull up your big-kid pants and make some magic happen. Hold the mic directly in front of your mouth – having a mic down by your chest helps no one. Be sure to project your voice and speak clearly. No mumbling! Don’t worry – you’ve prepared for this. Flash them your best smile, give it your all, and don’t forget to actually toast the happy couple when all is said and done.

After all this prepping, we’re pretty positive you’re going to knock this out of the park. But even if a joke falls flat or you stumble over the words a little bit, your friends will see the effort you’ve put forth and know how much you love them. And that’s all a wedding speech really is – a way to show your friends that you wish them a world of happiness.

For more tips and advice on planning your wedding, visit!
Article originally published in ChicagoStyle Weddings Magazine Spring 2016 Supplement Edition.