Being a Maid of Honor twice in one year has taught me a lot about wedding speeches, the ins and outs, and the best ways to prepare. Here are ten tips I'd like to share with all future bridesmaids/Maids of Honor for their special moment at the wedding.

1. Plan ahead of time.

Preparing for your speech is the best way to make sure you cover your bases and all of the things you want to say. This is not a time to proscratinate. Give yourself a month before the wedding to start planning your speech. Make notes of qualities you love about the bride and groom and special moments you've shared with them.

2. Consider your audience.

Is the crowd a little uptight, or more carefree and bohemian. Are they the types of guests that will get your silly humor, or more of a sentimental bunch? Take this all into consideration when writing your speech. Also- remember there will be older adults at the wedding, so if you feel uncomfortable saying something in front of your parents, do NOT include it in your speech.

3. Never underestimate the power of laughter.

Humor is not limited to only the best man's speech. When it seems appropriate, include a funny joke. Everyone loves to laugh. However, steer clear of anything REALLY embarassing that may upset the bride or groom. That being said, make jokes! Use props if they fit in. Have fun!

4. Don't forget the groom.

While you may have more to say about the bride than the groom- make sure to address both of them in your speech. Touch upon qualities and attributes that make each of them unique and the type of couple they are together.

5. When in doubt: use a quote.

Is there a particular author the bride and groom love? Or a quote about love that you think runs true to both of them? A quote is a beautiful way to end your speech and leave the wedding guests with a sentimental line to think about. (Here are 10 of our favorite quotes about love in literature.)

6. Make it short and sweet.

Time yourself reading the speech. If it's more than five minutes long, that is TOO long. Simplify where you can and whiddle it down to around 2-4 minutes. Nobody wants to fall asleep, and there are other wedding events that still need to happen!

7. Give thanks!

If the bride or groom's family is hosting the big day make sure to thank them at some point in your speech. Just a simple acknowledgement of "Thank you to the Smith family for throwing such a beautiful celebration" is perfect.

8. Practice makes perfect.

Practice it out loud. In front of your friends. This will help you get your intonation down pat and see if the reactions from your jokes are what you'd expect. Ask for feedback and make changes as you see needed.

9. Do NOT get drunk.

If you must drink alcohol pre-speech, stick to one or two drinks before the speech but do NOT get drunk. There is nothing applaud worthy about a Maid of Honor who slurs her words, and everything you've prepped and practiced will go right out the door. After the speech is your time to relax and enjoy and if so, over indulge.

10. Be YOU.

At the end of the day, does your speech sound like you? This is your blessing to your best friend/sister a final send off to her married life. Make sure you're proud of it, and it's you!

From the editors of Town & Country.

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