The list below lays out eight intro ideas for your maid of honor speech, but you can also use them to write your whole entire speech. Simply pick one idea to start your speech, or follow numbers one to eight to write your entire speech. Either way, once you start brainstorming a few different intros, you're likely to stumble on a gem of an idea and find your maid-of-honor-speech-writing stride before you know it. So take a deep breath, grab a glass of wine (preferably poured into one of those big goblet glasses), and let your maid of honor awesomeness flow!
1. Tell who you are
It's always a good idea to start your speech by letting the crowd know who you are, and how you know the bride. Otherwise, they may be asking the people around them, "Who is she?" right as you're getting to the best part of your speech.
2. Give thanks
Since everyone knows weddings are expensive and require a lot of time and energy to plan, it's a good idea to recognize the parents who helped contribute to make the celebration possible. Particularly if the parents are hosting the wedding reception, or have hosted any of the wedding festivities, now is an appropriate time to thank them, and it gives everyone else the opportunity to clap and show their appreciation as well.
3. Tell a story about the bride
You can start off by telling a story about the bride, or by telling the story of how you and the bride first met. Just remember to leave exes, drunken shenanigans, and unflattering stories of the bride out. This is definitely a situation where the "whole truth and nothing but the truth" is not applicable.
4. Tell a story about the first time you met the groom
Beginning your speech with a funny story about how you met the groom for the first time can be a good way to get people laughing. Were you at a concert with your friend when this random guy (a.k.a. the groom) tripped and spilled a drink on her? Did she try on 15 different outfits before he came to your shared post-college apartment to pick her up for their first date? Any fun stories about your first impressions can make for a good laugh, and provide a window into the couple's first days together for the rest of the guests.
5. Tell a story about the couple
Telling a story about the couple is always a great segue into saying "That was the time I knew it was true love..." You can start by saying you remember that time they went to a baseball game together, or camping for the weekend, or out to lunch at that corner cafe, and that's when you saw a change in your friend. Something was different after that one time, and it would never be the same again (in a really good way).
6. Use a prop
Using a prop for a wedding speech is something that can go fantastically well if it ties into the main idea of the speech. Some good props can be old photos, slideshows, or an unexpected item like a childhood toy. This is not something that you want to force into your speech by any means, but if you happen to think of a prop that would work well, it can make a good wedding speech all that more amazing and memorable.
7. Share a love quote
A good way to start (or end) a speech is with a powerful quote about love that will resonate with the couple and the guests. Something meaningful that gives guests something to think about is always a safe bet.
8. Ask the audience a question
A good way to pick up everyone's energy is to bring an interactive component to your speech, like asking the audience a question. If done at the start of your speech, you may use a question like "Raise your hand if..." and "How many people here..." and then insert something funny about the couple. If you're going this route, it's a good idea to have a few shills in the audience who can get the audience going and encourage others to respond to the question. A question at the end of the speech can be something simple that will leave guests cheering like "Who is ready to celebrate this couple with an awesome party?" (and who doesn't like a good cheer after a speech!?).
Just remember to keep it short, keep it sweet, and keep it about the couple. As long as you speak from your heart, the couple will love it no matter what — and that's all that really counts.
This article originally appeared on Bustle.com. Image: Sean O'Shaughnessy/Flickr