Someone you love is about to have a very special day, and you’ve been asked to give a toast. Whether it’s for a wedding, anniversary, retirement party or other big event, giving a toast can be a little nerve-wracking and intimidating. But fear not: giving a wedding speech or a toast does not have to be scary or difficult. We’ve put together some tips to make your wedding speech or other big toast look easy.
Wedding Speech Tips
- When preparing your wedding speech, think of your relationship with the bride or groom. Sit down somewhere quiet and write down your history: how you met, memories you’ve made, things you have been through. This will help to jog your memory. You’re sure to find something sweet, nice or funny to talk about.
- Also consider the bride and groom’s relationship with each other. While the speech will likely be about one or the other, especially if you’re the best man or maid of honor, you’ll want to mention to new spouse too.
- Humor is king. Being funny makes people relax, makes them listen, and it makes them like you. Try to open with a joke or tell a hilarious story about the two of you. Remember to keep it clean!
- Be sincere. As the best man or maid of honor, you may feel tempted to get your “digs” into the happy couple. But remember, this is a significant day for this person. And you’ve been asked to deliver a toast in their honor. Humor most certainly has its place but it shouldn’t override the intent of congratulating and making the person/couple feel special. Choose your stories and words carefully.
- Remember: preparation, not inspiration. Whether you write down every word or just key notes, do not wing it! This only works in the movies. In real life, it results in stuttering, pauses and an awkward wedding speech.
- Try to keep your wedding speech around three minutes, definitely not longer than five minutes.
- Thank the parents or whoever is hosting the occasion
- Mention how you know the bride or groom
- Why the bride / groom is such an amazing person and why you love her
- Why the bride and groom are such a good couple
- Your wishes for their happiness
Other Toasting Tips
Speaking at a birthday party, retirement party or other special event? These tips will help you deliver a heartfelt speech or toast everyone will love to hear.
Know Your Audience
- The best toasts are tailored for the specific audience.
- What is the age of the crowd? Will they get your references to bad 80’s hairstyles or do you need to make your anecdotes more general?
- Who is in the crowd? Family? Friends? Colleagues? You don’t want to use language or innuendo that may be offensive to certain people in the audience.
Tell a 3 Minute Story
- Research suggests that people’s attention spans seem to waver after about 5 minutes. Therefore, you want to time your speech to go no longer than 3 minutes. The goal is to share a sincere and honest nod to the honoree or happy couple. So keep it short and sweet.
- Structure your toast like a story. Each toast needs:
- A Beginning: Introduce yourself, how you know the person you are toasting, acknowledge that you are happy to be here giving this toast to this person/couple.
- A Middle: The middle is where you can really make it your own. Share a famous quote, an anecdotal story, your well wishes etc. This is where knowing your audience will be important. Delivering a toast in a roast type fashion my not always be appropriate. Consider your audience and keep it light. No need to divulge what you and the groom really did that summer of your sophomore year in college. Be sincere and complimentary at some point in your speech. After all, the point is to honor the person or couple, not embarrass them.
- An End: Wrap up your toast with a sincere wish of love or congratulations and invite the audience to raise a glass to the person/people. Bring it full circle.
Practice Makes Better
- Be sure to practice your speech a lot before you actually give it. Get familiar with the points you want to hit so that it sounds more natural than rehearsed.
- Try giving the speech to yourself in front of the mirror. Practice smiling and regular eye contact.
- If it helps you to memorize your speech, write it down. But don’t read a speech from paper or note cards when delivering it. The best toasts and speeches are those that create engagement with the audience. Reading from a note card does not create engagement. Make eye contact!
- If you really feel you need some kind of written help, write only bullet points on a small card.
- Be aware of your posture. Slouching and stuffing your hands in your pockets will not aid in the effectiveness of your toast. Take a deep breath and relax!
We hope these toasting tips will help you deliver a beautiful, heartfelt wedding speech or a toast for someone amazing in your life. Cheers!