I'm bad at being insincere. How to toast to the bride and scumbag groom?
September 16, 2013 9:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions on how to construct a brief, vague, and impersonal maid of honor speech for a wedding I 100% disapprove of.

My best friend is set to marry a lying, cheating, controlling, manipulative, verbally abusive, egotistical man-child with a drinking problem this Saturday. I just plain hate the guy, and about a third of the people who will be in attendance either know that I hate him or know that I should. I've done my best to talk my friend out of settling for this loser, but she's made up her mind to go through with it and now it's my job to keep my opinions to myself and just support her on her wedding day... And give a speech. I can't very well go up there and gush over their beautiful relationship and how inspiring their love is and how happy I know they'll make each other for the rest of their lives when so many people there will know I don't mean a word of it. But I do want to be a good maid of honor for my friend's sake and do what's expected of me by giving a decent speech. What are some generic quotes, advice, or other filler that I could throw in there to wish them well without lying through my teeth?
posted by lmpatte2 to Human Relations (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Focus just on your friend. IME the maid of honor typically speaks almost exclusively about her relationship with the bride and very little on the groom unless she has a great relationship with him too. Recall some funny memories of the two of you, express how dear she is and that you hope that her marriage grows and thrives. Keep it short. Then let it go.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:49 AM on September 16, 2013 [54 favorites]

Yes, focus on your friend. Tell stories about what a great person she is. End with, Groom, this girl is a treasure, make sure to treat her right or you'll have me to deal with! Say it with a smile and people will think you're joking, but you can know you aren't!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2013 [38 favorites]

You can simply convey best wishes, something to the effect of:

"My hopes for you two, on this day which opens opens a new chapter in your lives, are that you have fair weather and smooth sailing, and that every day is better then the one that came before."
posted by jquinby at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

You talk about the bride.

Now, if you really wanted to, you could follow the best man template where it's a selection of anecdotes about the groom's bad judgement, which normally has the ha ha only serious payoff that marriage is the first good decision he's made. But I'm not sure you want to do that.

Tell some jokes about the bride's past, make sure you have a story where she comes to your rescue, say that you'll always be there for her, leave it at that.
posted by holgate at 9:53 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm sure you can say many kind things about your friend, your friendship together, what a big day this is, some things you think she looks forward to in marriage, your hopes for their future together, etc. it can be fairly perfunctory if there are just a few personal touches and no negative undertones whatsoever.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:53 AM on September 16, 2013

"Speak now or forever hold your peace."

The toast is not the place to air your grievances. It's not even really so much about you, in fact. Give your friend well-wishes, and raise your glass.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:53 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

As the maid of honor, you're toasting the bride. You talk about what a lovely person the bride is, deserving of every good thing in life; you talk about how your friend has always wanted a gorgeous wedding/dress/cake; you talk about how lucky the groom is; you give them your sincere wishes for as much happiness as possible.
Because seriously, your wish is for them to be happy, right? You're not wishing for things to turn out badly just so you can say 'I told you so', right? So you wish them happiness.
posted by aimedwander at 9:54 AM on September 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm a big believer in the value of practice, in all different areas in life. So my first suggestion, without trying to sound judgey or jerky, would be to stop indulging in the "lying, cheating, controlling, manipulative, verbally abusive, egotistical man-child with a drinking problem" rage party you're throwing for yourself here.

If that stuff is just meant as a backgrounder for us and you're not actually throwing yourself a rage party, understood, and forget what I said.
posted by ftm at 9:55 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nthing toasting the bride. Gush about how wonderful she is, tell funny family appropriate stories, and in the end mention how lucky a guy scumbag-groom is to have found such a wonderful person and partner in life.
posted by cgg at 10:02 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't bad-mouth the groom. Not even in a ha-ha way. Now is not the time. Talk about what a great friend the bride is (because, she is) and how you wish her nothing but the best for her marriage (because, obviously, you do wish her the best. Even if the best is a speedy divorce) and leave it at that. You don't actually need to talk about what a wonderful guy he is. I don't honestly recall in detail the speeches I've heard at previous weddings, but my recollection is that the best man talks about the time he and groom got drunk and the maid-of-honor says what a wonderful person the bride is and bursts into tears.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:05 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ignore the groom and focus on the bride. Which is what you would do in life anyways right.
posted by ladoo at 10:08 AM on September 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Being relatively young, I've not been to many weddings or heard many other wedding speeches yet, so I assumed my job was to talk about "them" and I didn't realize that it would be appropriate for me to mostly talk about the bride and barely address the groom. But I can definitely do that comfortably!
posted by lmpatte2 at 10:08 AM on September 16, 2013 [12 favorites]

Agree with everyone else. Don't badmouth the groom. In fact, don't speak about him at all. That has the potential to speak volumes without a bad word being said.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:09 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tell a cute story about your friendship and then wish the couple the best. I really only remember one maid of honor speech and it was given by the bride's best friend and she told a story about sleepover parties the MoH and the bride had as children It was adorable and the bride (and her parents) cried. Just let everyone know how much you love your friend and sit down. And honestly, the shorter, the better. No one likes a long speech, everyone just wants to eat their dinner and dance.
posted by Aquifer at 10:12 AM on September 16, 2013

I just went through something similar in June, though albeit not with a lot of the "the spouse is a douche" you are mentioning.

In my case, my best friend of 16 years recently married a serious ex-girlfriend (who I had lived with for 3 years ending in 2009). While by itself, this isn't the hugest of deals, there were some complications.

1. He asked me to be his Best Man, and I had to give a speech at the wedding.
2. I ended it with her and did it quite poorly.
3. It ended quite messily to say the least. A lot of hurt, tears and the like. Her family and herself were none too fond of me, and I honestly don't even know why she allowed his choice to be a choice.

It was an entirely awkward situation, which in hindsight I should have declined from the start, but by the time I had come to this realization, the plane tickets were bought, and the wedding was a month away.

It actually went a lot better than I thought, however. Although for different reasons (I obviously couldn't earnestly say she was marriage material if I broke up with her, and ew, "sloppy seconds") I felt too uncomfortable giving the usual "two perfect people in a perfect relationship!" speech.

So, I mostly kept it to him. A few anecdotes about why he's a loyal and loving guy, a couple of off the cuff jokes about some typical "wedding" things. I didn't prepare it at all, and just winged it from the time I was asked to stand.

Basically I said:

"[long pause, deep breath], "We are all gathered here to celebrate the marriage of [Friend] and [Ex-Girlfriend] (which I phrased in my head as a factual statement, and nothing more), and I wanted to thank [Friend] for the honor of asking me to be his best man. (insert joke about common wedding thing)

I remember meeting [Friend] (insert funny anecdote) and I knew we were going to be close when we endured (insert funny anecdote).

Now he's all grown up and getting married. It's crazy how long ago and just yesterday our friendship seems all at once, and after all we've been through, I'm glad that we're both still around to see each other continue on this journey of life. Love ya [Friend]!"

I can tell you from experience, it's awkward as hell, but no one will remember exactly what you said five minutes after you said it, as long as you keep it to a generic "I love you, man! (or girl)"

The nervous anticipation is a million times worse than the speech, and the relief afterwards is pretty nice too.

Good luck!
posted by Debaser626 at 10:15 AM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

This was how my MOH toast went:

- Introduced myself
- Talked briefly about how we met and how long we had known each other
- Told story about the previous few days and how happy and excited and adorable she was
- Wished them all the best and lots of happiness (you should be able to honestly wish your friend this even if you don't like her husband)
- Lifted my glass
- Drank
- Hugged bride
- Sat down

And I quite like her husband. Didn't say his name once though.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:16 AM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Make it short and sweet.
If there is something that everyone hates, it's long unplanned out wedding toasts that veer into uncomfortableness.

Minutes stretch up there so if you can fit your toast on an index card you are probably doing okay.

Write it down, and then practice practice practice.

Do it without the card, but have the card in case your forget what you are going to say.

Don't drink too much , but maybe one or two drinks before hand to calm your nerves, but don't be sloppy, esp. if there is something you _don't_ want to say.

EVERYONE will be pulling for you up there, they want you to succeed.

Good luck.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:25 AM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can always say that you love your friend SOOOOO much, and you know that she loves her new husband SOOOOO much, and you know how lovely it is to love someone that much, so you are so happy that she has that in her life. That sounds like you're saying something nice about the groom, even though you're not really doing so.
posted by janey47 at 11:37 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, talk about how great she is at length, then close by wishing them the most wonderful lives possible. That you sort of hope "most wonderful" won't mean "together" you can keep to yourself.
posted by feets at 12:09 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

You may find it instructive to watch 'About Schmidt', which has an apropos wedding toast in it.
posted by bq at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

@These Birds has it.

Please don't half-joke about the groom not treating the bride well and having to deal with you. It's not funny even when it isn't serious, and it's going to be obvious to a lot of people (including the groom, probably) that you aren't joking.
posted by cnc at 12:31 PM on September 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

The vast majority of MOH speeches I have witnessed, even from MOHs who are perfectly happy about the wedding, have been along the lines of "Suzy and I have been best friends ever since we met [when we were babies and our moms joined the same playgroup/at summer camp/when we were Tri Delt pledges] and we bonded over our love of [blocks/friendship bracelets/Grey's Anatomy]. [Insert additional cute anecdote on whichever of those topics you picked.] Suzy, you'll always be my sister, and I wish you all the best." Short and generic is totally ok - you've got this.
posted by naoko at 7:54 PM on September 16, 2013

I don't think you should just focus on talking about her. It's true that a lot of people do that, but really, a wedding is supposed to be about the two people getting married. And the people who primarily know just the bride or groom are totally bored during those toasts.

Here's how I dealt with being a MOH in a similar situation:
-I started my speech by talking about how honored I felt to be beside them on their wedding day
-Then I did a couple of very short anecdotes about growing up with her
-Then I chose an anecdote about them that specifically was about when I knew she was serious about him

That way I could tell a story that was, on surface, about the two of them - but was really a story about her. I could also convey in in a genuine way because it wasn't an endorsement of how great their relationship was - it was simply a statement about how crazy she was about him.

One other tip - day of, focus on making her happy. That's it, that's your job.

Good luck!
posted by leitmotif at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2013

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