We’ve seen our fair share of delightful and disastrous wedding speeches, and now you’ve been given the honor of making a toast at your best friend’s wedding. Whether or not you are a natural public speaker, we’ve rounded up some tips for you to share your joy with the couple while leaving the guests mesmerized instead of wondering when it will be over.
Our expert on the subject, David Marcotte of Ovation Communication, teaches presentation skills like it’s his job (it is) and has spoken at no less than 8 weddings. We’ve broken down our interview with him into two sections: General tips & structuring the speech.
Let’s start with the general wedding speech tips:
- Know your audience: Not only are you addressing the bride and groom, but you have a full guest list to entertain. Keep the stories appropriate for any grandmas or children that could be there.
- Mindset is key: “Toast, don’t roast,” says David. You are there to celebrate their love, not prove that you know all the embarrassing stories. This also means that inside jokes need to be kept to a minimum or shouldn’t be used at all. If you can’t get the guests to understand why it’s funny with one quick sentence, pick a different reference.
- Finally, keep the wedding speech between 1-5 minutes. A simple wedding toast should have a few minutes of sentiment behind it, and 5 minutes for a speech is a lot longer than you think. David reminds us, “you’re borrowing the spotlight, not trying to steal it.”
So how do you begin to write and structure your wedding speech? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
- Use a springboard as the starting point. A little humor or a cute story can introduce how you know the bride or groom. Remember, your wedding toast isn’t there to prove your friendship—you wouldn’t be talking if you weren’t friends. So keep it short and avoid listing your chronological story (“First we met in grade school, then I transferred for 2 years, then we were in high school but weren’t too close anymore until summer before college…”).
- Get to the gooey center. This is where you can express your thoughts and well wishes to the couple. Think about the emotion you’re after and that you’re standing up there to endorse their love. You can acknowledge anyone else during this time and express your gratitude for being a part of the celebration. Check out our previous post for more ways to really nail your maid of honor toast.
- Raise your glass and close your toast. It can be tempting to ramble on when nerves get the best of us. You should practice this final line for when your eyes start swelling—it will come out more naturally and end everything on a positive note. An example that works even without clinking glasses would be, “So please join me in celebrating (bride and groom) as they start this next chapter together.”