Wedding toasts are tricky. You’ve got a lot of different people to please, and couples are extra-sensitive on their wedding day—after all, they’ve got a whole room of the most important people in their lives looking at them. Because of this, there’s a lot of pressure on these speeches. Best case scenario, a wedding toast is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell your best friend, sibling, parent, or relative how much you love them and their new partner. But worst case, you’ll be remembered for stammering and sweating your way through a speech that seems to ramble on for ages—or worse, that veers into cringe-worthy, inappropriate, or otherwise embarrassing territory.
Which is why we’re here, isn’t it? We’ve got some helpful tips to guide you towards a great wedding toast that you and your favorite couple will remember fondly for years. So grab your notepads and get ready for some key(note) advice—BYOChampagne and tissues.
This is our favorite piece of advice to give soon-to-be married couples, so it only makes sense that we give it to you, too. Be true to yourself. If you’re not naturally funny, don’t try to be. If you’re not one for mushy sentimentality, don’t go there. Be honest and talk about why your relationship with the bride and/or groom is a special one and why you admire their spouse-to-be. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t Talk About Yourself
This should go without saying, but you’re giving a toast to the newlyweds. This day is not about you, so your speech definitely shouldn’t be. A personal anecdote about you AND the bride or groom is great, so long as it illuminates funny (and flattering) points about the other’s personality, talents, or achievements. Watch how many times you say “I” and “me” and cut back if you find these words dominating your speech to avoid coming off as insincere.
Keep It Short
For those fearful of public speaking, you may be happy to hear that most wedding toasts are somewhere around three minutes long. Remember, you’re performing a wedding toast, not a filibuster. All you really need to do is introduce yourself and explain your relationship to the bride/groom, share a special memory or story about the betrothed, say congratulations, and wish them a long, happy future. Badda bing badda boom.
You won’t believe how many people forget this essential wedding toast component. The whole purpose of a wedding coast is to wish the newlyweds well, so make sure this word makes it into your speech.
Look At The Person You Are Toasting
Don’t stare down the couple, but keep in mind that they are the recipients of your speech and the most important people in your audience. You are not putting on a show for the wedding guests, but toasting your good friend, their new spouse, and their future. A little eye contact goes a long way.
Coordinate With The Wedding Planner
Make sure you know what’s going on and don’t even think about bugging the bride or groom with questions about the timeline of events when they should be focused solely on each other and enjoying their special day. Speak with the wedding planner (or the person acting in this capacity—even the DJ or bandleader might know) so you know when and where you are supposed to give your toast and how to store your notes if necessary.
Do Not Mention Exes
At all. Ever. Seriously. Don’t do it. It will make things awkward, and like we said before, people are extra-sensitive on their wedding day.
Do Not Say Anything Negative
If you have any doubt whether a joke will offend the bride and groom, leave it out of your toast. Keep in mind, it’s a toast, not a roast. It’s not to make you look good, it is to shine light on the awesome couple before you. Need we say it again? This is their day.
Give some thought as to what you’re going to say and jot down some notes, whether or not you plan on using them at the reception. It’s only natural that you’d trip up your words or lose your train of thought if you plan on “winging it,” so our advice is to, well, not. Respect the couple on their wedding day by giving your wedding toast the thoughtful preparation it deserves. That means preparing it well in advance and rehearsing a few times in order to gauge the length and flow of your speech. Trust us, both the couple and you will be grateful you did.
Now that’s something we can raise our glasses to.