Wedding Toast Tips, Dos and Don’ts

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A couple of the distinguished components of a wedding reception are the toasts given by the Maid of Honor and the Best Man.  Along with wedding party introductions, music, and food, toasts are a big focus of a wedding reception with all eyes on the person holding the microphone.  It’s no wonder why this could put some pressure on toast givers sharing their best wishes.  However, no need to panic if you’re requested to write a toast.  Follow these tips and you will receive compliments from smiling guests all night long.

Wedding Toast Tips – “Dos”:

Be prepared
Write your toast a few weeks in advance of the reception.  If you don’t have much public speaking or other toast giving experience, give yourself plenty of time to practice writing, editing, and giving your toast.  Most of us are not naturally great speaking in front of crowds.  Those that are great public speakers are usually very good because they have a lot of practice.  Practice speaking in front of a mirror, others, or you can record yourself on camera so that you can provide your own critique.  Take time to practice making eye contact with the bride, groom, and guests so that you can really connect with the audience.    

Try your best to memorize your full speech.  If necessary, you can use bullet points as a safety net.  If you read off your entire speech, it won’t flow naturally and it will seem less sincere.

How long should my toast be?

When writing your toast, your goal should be to keep it between 3 to 5 minutes long.  If you don’t make it long enough, it may come off that you were underprepared to give the speech and that you didn’t put your heart into it.  If you make it too long, you may lose the attention of the room and the chatter will begin to drown out your words.  Even if you manage to keep the attention of the guests after 5 minutes, you could become guilty of taking the spotlight away from the bride and groom as well as cutting into the time others have to give their toasts.

What should I write about in my toast?
Know your audience.  You are not only speaking to the bride and groom, you are speaking to the guests too.  Most of the time, the toast giver will know less than half of the people in the room.  Because of this, you should give a very brief introduction of who you are and your relationship to the bride or groom.  This is also why you should stay away from inside jokes that will only make sense to a limited few.  While you may not know many of the guests, you will know that just about everyone loves to laugh.  Using humor that most people would find funny is not only a safe way but it’s a great way to entertain the room.  Funny stories that you shared with the bride, groom, or both are good for a few chuckles.  They also make everyone feel closer to you and the newlyweds.

Most weddings have little ears.  Keep your toast family friendly and cater to the majority.  Try to keep your speech tasteful and keep your content on a PG rating especially if there are young children in the audience.

While humor is your friend during a toast, pulling on heart strings is a good idea too.  It is an emotional event and tears of happiness are welcome.  Tap into your close relationship with the bride or groom and express how much they mean to you and how much you love them.  A proven formula for a great toast is telling a funny story or two about the bride or groom then following up with an emotional closing.

How do I get the attention of the room?
When the MC isn’t available to provide you with an introduction, you can use a spoon or fork to ding on a champagne glass to get all eyes on you.  You can also do something like prompt the DJ to start your pre-selected music track that is fitting for your toast.

Just like you practiced, remember to maintain eye contact with the bride, groom, and guests throughout your toast.  In order for your words to fully resonate with the group, be sure not to speak too quickly.  Many people tend to speak faster when they are nervous and it takes away from what you are saying.  You also want to give small pauses if the room gets a bit loud reacting to your punchlines and jokes.  This helps prevent anyone from not being able to hear the next several words you have to say plus people won’t be asking each other, “What did she just say?”  Rehearsing a few times before a group of people should help you nail the timing.

What is the best way to end my toast?
As mentioned before, consider being a little sentimental to close your toast.  Then you have the option of slipping in a well-timed quip before seamlessly transitioning to raise your champagne glass toward the honored married couple and leading all guests into wishing them your best wishes.  Take a well-deserved sip, walk over to hug or kiss the bride and groom, and then make your exit back to your seat.  All done.  Don’t forget to have your champagne glass nearby or it just doesn’t have the same effect with an empty hand J

Wedding Toast Tips – “Don’ts”:

Don’t procrastinate.  If you wait to write your speech at the last minute, people will notice.  The less time you give yourself to perfect your toast, the more uncomfortable you will be when standing in front of all of the guests.

Don’t look down at your cell phone, note cards, or written toast too much.  Instead, memorize your full toast.  Feel free to use bullet points if you need them to keep you on track.

Don’t drink too much alcohol before giving your speech.  Taking the edge off is one thing but getting blitzed is a recipe for disaster.  You need a clear head to deliver the best toast possible.

Don’t come up with a toast on the fly.  An impromptu toast from the heart may seem like a good idea but more often than not it will fall far short of expectations for both you and the audience.  A well thought out toast shines while an off the cuff version will likely disappoint.  

Don’t bring up ex relationships or topics that you know are touchy between the bride and groom.

Don’t include inside jokes unless everyone will get them.  You want the full audience engaged.

Don’t talk about things that don’t have to do with the bride or groom.  The toast is for the bride and groom so make sure that your toast stays relative.

Don’t forget to include both the bride and groom in your speech.  Again, the toast is honor the two of them.


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