The speech to end all speeches

Double cake
Double shower, but not a double wedding.


Less than 60 days until our wedding.

One month until I move.

And two weeks until my sister’s wedding.

It’s getting real now, friends.

Knowing my anxious self as I do, I feel like I should be panicking — or, at the very least, getting nervous — but an odd calm has seeped into my pores. Now that I’ve attended two bridal showers, my sister’s bachelorette party and am helping her put all the final touches on her big day at the end of this month, it’s finally hitting me: my sister’s getting married.

The best part of planning two weddings concurrently was probably that I had little time to ruminate on the fact that my baby sis will soon be a wife. After a lifetime of doing everything together, I think it’s only fitting that we got engaged on the same day and planned nuptials for the same season — though it hasn’t been without its complications at times. Still, planning weddings together was fun and, in many ways, helpful. Because there was no gap in experience, we could discuss vendors and venues and invitations in real time.

And now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. I helped Katie coordinate her seating chart, designed her programs and invitations, will be going with her to make final decisions about decor on Sunday. And as her trusty maid of honor, I’m getting ready for the most crucial of all my assignments: my wedding speech. The toast. My moment in the spotlight with a microphone, when I’m supposed to get through some emotional words without sobbing like a lunatic.

Not likely.

I started a draft of this speech a few months ago, back when it seemed so far away . But now that we’re staring down her wedding date in two weeks, I’m realizing I really better get serious. And get cracking.

And as a writer, you know I’ve got to make it good.

I’m a little scared of this speech. When Katie first got engaged, I remember telling her I didn’t think I could speak at all — but realized I need to. I can’t just decide I’m not going to toast my baby sister and her new husband because I’m too emotional . . . and anyway, I’m doing better. I’ve processed what’s happening. I’m excited and at peace with the transitions, even if they won’t be completely smooth. (Nothing is completely smooth.)

So my speech. This epic speech. I want to be sweet and funny, thoughtful and celebratory, hopeful and endearing. I want her to feel loved and appreciated, and for Eric to feel welcomed and included. I know to be brief because no one likes a long-winded wedding speech, but I’m going to say what I want to say.

My goal is to somehow — through magic, caffeine, sorcery — distil into words what 25 years with my sister by my side have meant to me.

So, you know, no big deal.

Have you ever given an epic wedding speech? Do you have any tips or resources for me? I’m optimistic I can get through this relatively unscathed, but I’m going to have to drown my sorrows in wedding cake. It’s pretty much a necessity.


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17 thoughts on “The speech to end all speeches

  1. How fun that you are sharing this experience with each other! My little sister got married last year and I had all of the feelings. So, my tips. Like you said, short and sweet is best 🙂 I tried to think of what a theme for my relationship with her was and then I talked about how that changes with my new brother. Funny anecdote about her personality that everyone in the room will get. I wrote down 4 prompts on an index card (not text, just headlines) and gave it to her personal attendant to keep til the reception since my dress didn’t have pockets. I skimmed it right before I spoke to refresh my memory. Don’t hold notes in your hand if you can help it. From years of public speaking I know that I talk with my hands, a problem if given a handheld mic. Instead of holding it with my left hand (my instinct), I put it in my right. I’m less likely to make sweeping gestures and move it away from my voice that way!

    I don’t remember much of what I said now, but there’s a photo of my sister listening and her head is thrown back laughing and it’s my favorite of her wedding photos. Victory! Until the best man got up and burst into tears and stole my thunder ha.

    • Thank you so much for the helpful tips, Amanda — love the idea of having prompts on index cards! I think I”m going to loosely write out my whole speech only because I know I’ll be super nervous, but hopefully I’ll have enough of it committed to memory that I can just write out similar prompts. Love that idea!

      So glad your speech for your sister went well — and glad to know others are having All the Feelings. I’m holding it together now, but I know my tearful crazy time will come!

  2. Congrats on coming down the home stretch! I gave the maid of honor speech at my best friend’s wedding in April of 2011 and I was so nervous that I was going to cry through the entire thing. I tried to look just at her and her husband, which helped, because I knew that she would be able to calm me down if I started to lose it, haha. Mostly though, I was just so happy for her and I made sure to put enough silly/funny things in there to break up the serious emotional bits. I did get teary at the end, but we both did, so it was okay. I know your speech will be great! Let us know how it goes… and if you want to, blog it later, because I’m sure we’d all love to read it!

    • Very good point about focusing on the bride and groom, Alison — I really like that. I generally don’t get too nervous public speaking, but this is such a big occasion! And will be recorded for all posterity! Sigh. Definitely going to incorporate the fun and silly to counterbalance all the seriousness . . . that’s a great point.

  3. Aw, your speech will be beautiful, I have no doubt. I’ve never had to do one before so I don’t have any advice but you’re such a thoughtful writer, you always write with your heart, and that will shine through : ) Good luck! (though you don’t need it)

  4. I gave a speech at my little sister’s wedding and at the time I wasn’t a big crier. I still cried. But you know what? It was beautiful and I think my tears made it all the more moving. She spoke and cried at my wedding too. It was beautiful. You’ll do great.

    • A good reminder that it’s okay to cry, Juju — thank you! I’m sure I won’t be able to control it, but I’m just hoping I can get through my speech without getting too choked up. Sometimes I get so emotional that I just shut down and internalize it, you know? Maybe that will happen? Haha. We’ll see!

  5. Oh gosh, I loved the speech I gave at my BFF’s wedding almost 4 years ago…. but yeah, it was almost four years ago!

    I know you’ll make it amazing! And I’m getting MIGHTY nervous that the speeches said at mine will be lame. Is that a lame thing to think?

    • Not lame at all, Sarah, but I’m sure they will be wonderful! I have yet to hear a truly lame speech at a wedding. As long as they’re from the heart, they will be awesome. 🙂

    • Whew — two, Catherine?! How exciting but a little nerve-wracking — I can definitely appreciate that! I will be writing a follow-up post after the wedding, I am sure. 🙂 Stay tuned!

  6. I gave a MoH speech at my BFF’s wedding back in July. I kept TRYING to write something down ahead of time but every time I’d read through it, I didn’t like. I got so upset with it I crumpled it in a ball and trashed it the night before the wedding. I ended up writing it in my head on the trolley on the way to the ceremony, with a few small notes on my iphone in case I started getting nervous. But I didn’t – I totally nailed it. So my recommendation: don’t write it out. Pick out some key points or stories that illustrate who your sister really is and commit those to memory. Saying what you want to say, using the words that flow to you at the time makes it seem more genuine and more heartfelt than trying to read or memorize a whole speech.

    • Crumpling the night before was super brave, Lauren — I’m impressed! I would probably have a panic attack if I did that! Haha. That’s a good point about just letting it flow, though I’m worried I’ll be too nervous if I don’t have something written down. Often I write out what I want to say and then just barely glance at it, so I’ll try to do that! Definitely want to seem genuine and not like I’m reciting something. Hmm.

  7. My sister is getting married in April and I’ve been thinking a little bit about what kind of speech I’m going to give at the reception. I’m a little bit nervous about it but I’ve loved gleaning tips from some of the commenters above! Good luck to you, Meg!

  8. You will be amazing. You have a beautiful gift with words. I am more than confident that you will craft a fabulous speech that will convey all the love you feel for your sister and all the hopes you have for her marriage.

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