December 08, 2003 12:00 PM

It’s tricky getting a wedding toast just right. The words ought to be sentimental, plus a little mischievous—and preferably not awash in champagne bubbles. So put yourself in Sara Flood’s satin shoes: When the maid of honor toasts newlyweds Trista Rehn, 31, and Ryan Sutter, 29, on ABC’s reality-TV wedding Dec. 10, she’ll be raising her glass in front of a national audience. “There are some nerves involved,” says Flood, 30, an occupational therapist in Houston who has been Trista’s best friend for 17 years. “I want to be prepared.” But Sutter’s brother and best man, 26-year-old student Chris Sutter, is trusting his gut. He says he won’t write out his toast in advance: “I don’t know what my emotions will be that day.”

Up to this point, being in the wedding party—and filmed for two prenuptial specials—has been a blast. A friendly mix of 10—including Trista’s stepsister Jackie Mayer, 20 (“I was a bratty little kid when Trista was a teenager”), and three guys whom the Sutters have known since junior high school—were all flown to New York City to meet in July. The producers footed the bill for that trip, as well as bachelor and bachelorette parties in St. Martin. TV cameras aside, it’s all about Trista and Ryan. “I look forward to being by Trista’s side on the day she pledges her love to the man she wants to be with forever,” says Flood. Not that there isn’t some value in TV-ready hair and makeup. Mayer proclaims with a laugh, “I’m gonna look gorgeous.”

Cynthia Wang in Los Angeles

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