Someone you care about has found the love of their life, and they’ve invited you to participate in their special moment.
They’ve asked you to deliver a toast at their wedding.
Your heart fills with excitement, but also more than just a little bit of dread. What do you say? What if you mess up? How do you propose a wedding toast that captures the unique story of this particular couple, on such a sacred occasion?
For starters, let’s keep in mind the purpose of the wedding toast: it’s all about offering sincere congratulations to the newlyweds and sharing why their relationship is special.
And it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous. The pressure to come up with just the right message, combined with a natural fear of public speaking that most of us have, is a recipe for turning almost any joyous occasion into an uncomfortable one.
Perhaps the best way to calm your nerves is to follow the old scouting motto: Be prepared.
Here are some tips for writing and delivering good wedding toasts, so that when the blessed day arrives, you’ll be ready to give a heartwarming toast that guests will appreciate and the happy couple will treasure.
How to Write a Wedding Speech
Speak from the heart when it’s your turn at the microphone. Use your wedding toast to express love and warmth for the couple and wish them happiness. Here are some ideas to help you decide what to say.
Start your speech on the right note:
- Tactfully get the audience’s attention by gently clinking your glass or speaking into a microphone.
- Introduce yourself. Many people at the wedding will already know you, but some won’t. Briefly explain your relationship to the couple — relative, neighbor or classmate, for example.
Next, get to the heart of your message. You might include one or more of the following.
- Praise for your friend or relative’s new spouse.
- A happy story about the couple that shows why they’re the perfect pair.
- Personal anecdotes from your relationship with one or both spouses.
- Light-hearted advice.
- A few good-natured jokes. Humor is great. Just keep it clean and relatable to the whole audience.
- An appropriate quote from a favorite song, movie, book or historic figure.
- Whatever you do, don’t bring up past relationships.
Finish with a strong close by raising your glass to the bride and groom.
How to Deliver Your Wedding Toast
When you deliver a speech of any kind — including a wedding toast, it’s really not about you. It’s about your audience and what they get out of it.
Focus the couple and assembled guests, not on your nerves.
Here are some definite do’s for delivering your toast effectively:
- Practice! Practice! Practice! Read it in front of the mirror, record yourself and play it back, or run it by a friend to get their feedback. The more you run through your speech ahead of time, the more effortless it’ll feel when it’s the real ting.
- Remember the KISS philosophy — keep it short and sweet! About 3 minutes, tops. Everyone wants to hear your speech, but they’re also eager to get on with eating, drinking and dancing.
- Make eye contact with the couple and guests. It makes the stories you’re sharing even more memorable.
- Relax! You’re among friends. If you make a mistake, just laugh at yourself and keep moving, and they’ll forgive you. We promise!
Finally, if you want everyone to enjoy your speech, here are a few things to leave on the cutting room floor.
- We’ve said it before, but we’re going to say it again: don’t bring up past relationships!
- Another point that bears repeating: Don’t tell dirty jokes. Keep your humor clean.
- Avoid inside jokes that most of the audience won’t get. You also want your humor to be relatable.
- Don’t swear.
- Save the alcohol for after your toast. You may think a few drinks will calm your nerves, but trust us, your speech will be more effective if you’re not under the influence when you give it.
Congratulations on this opportunity to share your happy thoughts with two people you care about. We hope these tips help you deliver a sincere wedding toast that everyone will enjoy.
Photo credit: Marc Chagall