So you’ve been asked to give a toast to the happy couple – congratulations! It’s clear the newlyweds hold you in high regard, and we’re sure you’re honored to raise a glass to their future.
But, if you’re like many of our MOHs, best friends, or Fathers of the Bride, you might also be racking your brain on what to say and how to say it. Or, maybe you’re a pro at public speaking but you’ve never given a wedding toast and could use some tips from an insider’s perspective.
Having planned weddings for the past 11+ years, we’ve worked on hundreds of weddings and heard thousands of toasts. In other words, we practically have a playbook for giving a great speech. And boy could we tell you a few cringey stories, too.. Don’t be that guy!
Take a few minutes to read through our tips for taking the stage, and be sure to bookmark this page for future use!
Planning a Successful Wedding Toast
As wedding planners, it’s our job to help our clients accomplish their big-day dreams by guiding them with conception, curation and coordination. You can use these same planning techniques to create a memorable and heartfelt speech sure to capture both the couple and crowd’s attention.
It’s time to sit down and do a bit of brainstorming. Don’t get too bogged down in the details – just let your thoughts flow. Write down things you’d like to talk about, sentiments about the couple, well wishes, etc.
Once you have your ideas on paper, it’s time to curate and structure your speech. Remember, you want it fairly short and to the point. We recommend 2-4 minutes for the maid/matron of honor or best man and 4-6 minutes for the hosts of the party.
A good structure is as follows:
1. Introduce yourself with a warm welcome or hello. Remember, two sets of family and friends are gathered together, so not everyone will know you. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to open with a joke!
2. Thank the wedding hosts, this may be the parents of the couple or even the couple themselves. If you are the host, consider thanking the vendors or anyone you feel merits recognition.
3. Keep in mind that you’re speaking to an entire room of people about the couple. So, while you can address a sentiment to one of the individuals to start, please remember to circle it back to the couple in the end.
4. Wish the couple the best in their next chapter together.
5. End by raising a glass! & Toast!
Delivering a successful toast is like performing a choreographed dance: you have to plan, practice, and coordinate the steps before it’s showtime.
Here are our best tips for making the most of your time in the spotlight.
Practice Practice Practice
Practice timing. You might write two pages and think, I’ll be talking forever! But then realize, once you’ve read it out loud, that you’ll just hit the three-minute mark. That’s perfect!
It also helps to talk out loud so you can feel the cadence and hear when and where to insert pauses. Don’t be afraid to actually write “insert pause” into your speech, especially if you tend to rush through your words. And, consider recording yourself reading through your toast so you can hear how it sounds.
Practice on your own and with someone who won’t be at the wedding. Doing so will allow you to see if your toast is appealing. After all, if someone who doesn’t even know the couple is enthralled with your speech, how much more will the guests and the couple be?
What to Avoid
While it may be funny to you and your bestie, remember that half of the room only knows half of the couple and, most importantly, Grandma’s probably there! Here’s a few things to avoid from comments we’ve actually heard in a toast!
1. Inside Jokes – “Jed Bartlet for President” is only funny to a handful of Wingnuts, me being one of them, but it’s best to avoid things that will only be funny to one or two guests.
2. Alcohol and Drugs – mom probably doesn’t want to hear a story about her darling daughter drinking too much and ripping her pant leg on a fence while running from the cops.
3. Getting Frisky – there’s no need to share that she was conceived in a Church parking lot. No, just no.
4. The Ex – so your friend has a trial run before finding their true love, happens to the best of us, but opening with “great to see everyone again” probably isn’t going to fly with the new spouse!
5. Controversial Topics – we’re all here for this special day! It’s not the time or the place to share voting records, political affiliations, Church teachings, or that mom wasn’t a fan when they first started dating.
& in case you were wondering, it was a Father of the Bride who shared how his little girl was conceived. And yes, he did drop in with the band later… guys, we’re telling you, we have stories!
It’s a Toast, Not. A. Roast.
Emphasis on toast! Save the embarrassing stories and funny insults for another time.
Remember, you’re talking to a room of people of different ages, backgrounds and relationships with the couple. What may sound like a hilarious line to you may come across as offensive or insulting to the group. Or worse, to the couple!
Keep your words lighthearted and heartfelt, and you’ll be in good company.
Print Your Speech
Please don’t read from your phone. We can’t emphasize this enough! It increases the chance of a malfunction (your phone shuts off, you lose your place, embarrassment ensues). And the screen illuminates your face, which can alter how you look in photos. Plus, let’s face it, you just look ill prepared.
Instead, print your speech on nice paper with a large font, number your pages, and make sure to use a dark enough color so that it’s easy to read in a dimly lit room.
Last, but not least, if you have multiple pages or notecards, number each one so you can easily find your place in the event they get mixed up.
Looking for bonus points from team Kate + Company? Laminate your toast.
Don’t Forget Your Glass
Picture this: you’ve practiced your speech, numbered your notecards, and feel confident. You take to the floor and start speaking. The couple is laughing, guests are engaged, and you’ve barely used your notes. This is great!
And then it happens. You’re at the end of your speech and say, “Let’s raise a…mic?”
You wouldn’t be the first, and you won’t be the last to forget their champagne glass. But fortunately, you’re reading this guide and can make a mental note (maybe even a starred reminder on your speech?) to prevent such a blunder.
Speaking of Champagne, sometimes a little sip or two can help ease those nerves. But it’s a slippery slope, so stay mindful and know that you’ve got this – with or without the bubbly.
Hold the Microphone Properly
People who aren’t used to public speaking tend to hold the mic too low, making it hard for the guests in the back of the room to hear.
It might feel awkward at first, but trust us, you need to hold the mic closer to your mouth than you might think so everyone can hear what you’re saying.
Also, avoid pacing the room while you’re talking, as the motion can cause reverb (that annoying echo). It’s also easier on the photography/videography team if you’re standing still. If they are working with us, we’ve selected the perfect backdrop to make sure YOU look good in those candid photos… so stay put!
Support Your Fellow Speakers
Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling the public speaking jitters. Getting up in front of a room full of people is daunting. A two-minute talk can feel like forever if you look out and see nothing but blank faces.
Pay attention to whoever has the mic, interact, nod your head, smile, and show them they’re not alone. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.
Hug the Couple
By the end of your toast, you may be ready to sit down and relax – but not so fast! Don’t forget to give the guests of honor a quick hug before you head back to your table.
Voila! You’ve just mastered the perfect toast! We hope this guide provided some tips and tricks to giving the perfect toast. But if you’ve read through and are still stumped, reach out!