Bridesmaid Speech and Poem

Although tradition dictates that the best man toasts the bride and groom at the reception, today's weddings often feature both the best man and the maid of honor or bridesmaid giving speeches during the festivities.

A bridesmaid speech can range from a short recitation of a favorite poem that symbolizes the love between the couple to a longer speech of primarily centered on memories and special moments the bride and bridesmaid have shared, with good wishes for the happy couple.

Whether it is a bridesmaid poem or a bridesmaid speech, the key to success is preparation beforehand. If you are unused to making speeches, take cue cards with you if necessary, but try to avoid reading the entire speech from paper. It is far better to keep your comments short or to read a poem than to fumble to try to remember what you wanted to say in the nervousness of the moment.

In the case of a bridesmaid poem or speech, this is one case where the bride should step aside and let her bridesmaid choose what she wishes to say, just as the groom lets the best man sculpt his speech without interference. The best speeches come from the heart, and if the bride has chosen you to give a speech (or if you decide to recite a poem instead), as a good friend, she should give you the freedom to say what you wish.

So, what are the elements of a good bridesmaid speech?

Generally speaking, wedding-day speeches are kept to less than five minutes in length and focus on wishing the newly married couple happiness and good fortune. Although the rehearsal dinner may have been a more relaxed affair, with a lot of joking in speeches made, the wedding day toast that a bridesmaid makes should be focused more on memories she has shared with the bride and good-natured comments on the groom.

Although a laugh or two is never out of place, the object of the joke should only be the happy couple if the ending of the tale is romantic and prophetic of the happiness to come for them.

First, you must choose between making a bridesmaid speech or a bridesmaid poem. If you are nervous about speaking in front of a group of people or if you are unfamiliar with many guests, a short introduction followed by the reading of a poem may be the best solution. Thus, you will not have to remember too much of what to say, and no one will fault you for reading a poem from paper. As a special touch, have the poem written on parchment or other special paper in calligraphy and tastefully framed to present to the couple after your speech.

If you choose a bridesmaid poem, you need only introduce yourself, say a few words about your relationship to the bride, read your poem from the paper if necessary, and then close with a few remarks about how you wish the happy couple all the best and ask the guests to raise their glasses in a toast to them. Don't be afraid to start your speech with an admission of how nervous you are – most people will recall their own feelings at such a time and forgive, with kind smiles, any mistakes you may make.

If you are more comfortable with speaking in front of a group of people, there are many different options you can incorporate into your bridesmaid speech. The first element to include after introducing yourself and explaining how you are related to the bride (her sister, a friend since high school, etc.) normally are “thank yous”. Begin by thanking the bride and groom for asking you to give this special speech and then move on to people who played key roles in making the event a success, asking them to stand to be acknowledged by all.

Then move on to your relationship with the bride. Some ideas of topics include how you first met, or if she is a close relative, a childhood story you recall involving both of you. Although you should mention a couple of your most memorable exploits (usually chosen because they are either funny and/or sentimental), be sure not to forget to tell everyone how you first heard about or met the groom.

It is not out of order to include an embarrassing time you and the bride had, but be certain to keep it confined to a tasteful event, or do not include one. Say something touching about the couple's relationship that you have witnessed during the time they have been together or reveal something complimentary about the groom that the bride confided to you during their courtship.

The ending of your speech as a bridesmaid should be emotional, but heart-felt, summing up how much joy your relationship with the bride has brought to your life. If you are related, don't forget to include a thank you to your mother, father, aunt or whomever for being there for both of you as you grew up towards this momentous day. End with a request for everyone to rise to toast the bride and groom.

Other tips for bridesmaid speeches are fairly standard for any public speaking you may do. Look directly at the people you are addressing and make eye contact with any specific individuals you mention by name. Speak loudly enough that all can hear you and stand straight and tall. Don't forget to breathe, pause before you begin your speech until all the chatter has died down, and don't forget that everyone in the room wants you to succeed.

If you discover you just cannot come up with an appropriate speech, there are online websites that will craft a wedding toast just for you and integrate the names and situations into a beautifully written speech. Check online for options or ask the wedding planner for help well in advance of the big day.

Other options for bridesmaid speeches could include reading the horoscope for the bride and groom on either the day they got engaged or the wedding day, if the content provides amusing material.

Along the same vein, if a significant historical event happened on the day either was born or the day they met, became engaged, or some other important moment in their relationship, include it in your speech - if possible in an amusing way (along the lines of “an earthquake measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale hit a remote region in the Nevada desert on the day the bride and groom first met – coincidence or not?”).

If you can contact a fairly large number of the bride's family and friends, another idea is to ask them for their input on how they would describe the bride and put all of these wonderful compliments and stories together into a lovely memorial to the bride and what a lucky man the groom is.

Whatever your final choice is for the bridesmaid speech or bridesmaid poem, be certain that it contains your sincere and deep feelings of love and friendship towards the bride and wishes for the happiest of futures with her new husband.

As long as that is the message that comes through in the end, whatever you say in your actual speech will not matter. The guests and the bride and groom will always remember with fondness and love the effort you put into making up your speech, as well as your courage in standing before a group of people you may not know at all to reveal your memories and emotions concerning the bride and groom's future happiness.