Public speaking can be nerve-wracking even during a routine staff meeting, so when your family member or close friend enlists you in making the wedding toast, anxiety thresholds can reach a new maximum. A wedding toast isn’t just a presentation; you’ll be speaking during a lifetime event and will have to provoke emotions and laughter without stealing the show. Before you pull out your pen, there’s a lot to consider to create the perfect wedding toast.
Start off by introducing yourself and how you know the bride and groom. Regardless if you’ve been asked to speak by one or the other, always include both the bride and groom in your speech. This is their day, and you need to keep the focus on them and their union. Once you’ve introduced yourself, explain how you all met. This is a good place to include a story if you think it’s appropriate. If you met one of them first, start with the story of how you two met. Afterwards, share the story of how your friend met their spouse. You can comment on things like how awkwardly they may have started out or how smitten they instantly were, but always keep it positive. If the relationship started out cold, focus on its progression. You can use humor, but don’t embarrass either person.
When you’re giving this introduction, don’t use material that falls under the realm of “you had to be there.” If something is only funny because you know some inside secret, don’t include it. If you need to test this, deliver your speech to someone who is not involved in the process and see if the humor is there. Keep humor accessible as well. This means that even if you joke around with your friend all the time and put each other down, don’t make that the focus of your speech. One little comment might earn a laugh, but too many will confuse the guests and risks annoying the bride and groom. Don’t use something trite to open your speech, and avoid jokes that insult yourself or a member of the bridal party. For example, don’t say you’re going to have a captive and miserable audience for the next ten minutes and say the bride will be lucky to even get that long tonight. If you do have something funny to share, keep it tasteful. That includes omitting what happened at the strip club the other night or bringing up stories involving exes. Always keep the focus on the couple, and avoid saying anything that could get your friend in trouble like spilling a family secret.
Sentiment is fine and even welcome, but don’t make things overly sappy. They’ll be serving cake soon enough, so keep the sugar content to a minimum. Feel free to make your speech a little flowery as this is a formal occasion, but try not to get overwrought. It’s fantastic if you love your friend because they once rescued you from fiery wreckage using only their teeth and iron determination, but some stories are too dramatic for a wedding party. If you’re concerned about things getting too emotional, don’t linger on any one topic too long. This will ensure that you can still touch on sentimental things without forcing the wedding party to dwell on them.
If there are multiple toasts, keep in mind that others are going to be speaking, and plan accordingly. This means that you should ask the bridal party for a time frame and practice your speech to ensure that you stay within it. You will likely speak more quickly when you’re in front of others, so keep your speech towards the latter part of the time frame. Coordinate with the other speakers beforehand to ensure that you aren’t duplicating material. It would be frustrating for two of you to build your speech around the same topic and then have one of you in a position where you have little to say. If someone speaks before you, applaud their speech and thank them for their words. If someone speaks after you, make sure to give them an appropriate introduction. Also, keep track of where you will fall in the wedding schedule so that you have time to prepare. You don’t want to be off somewhere else when you’re meant to be speaking.
If you choose to end with a quote, keep it short and sweet, and don’t choose anything overly introspective or vague. A simple quote about marriage, love or commitment will suffice. If your friend isn’t normally a wordsmith but delivered beautiful vows, try a quote like, “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” Use the bride and groom as inspiration for any quoted material. When you’re finished with your speech, indicate that to the wedding party by returning their attention to the bride and groom. Like all things in your speech, you always want the focus to come back to them.
The most important thing to remember when delivering a wedding toast is to be yourself. These people chose you for a reason; they like you, and they want you to speak for them. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, they’re going to notice right away, and you could sour the mood for everyone involved. If you’re not overly funny, don’t try to be. If you aren’t sentimental, don’t give a saccharine speech. Stick to what you know. Particularly if there’s more than one person speaking, the bridal party chose their speakers for a reason, and they’re counting on them to be the same friends and family members they always are.
Delivering a wedding toast can seem a daunting task, but your friend wouldn’t ask you to speak at this lifetime event if they thought you were incapable of rising to the occasion. Plan your speech well in advance, coordinate with the other speakers, keep calm and remember that your words are the send-off that marks these two people’s union. Keep them simple; keep them true.
To Learn More About How to Write and Present an Unforgettable wedding toast: Click Here for BrideBox’s Beginners Guide to the Perfect Wedding Toast