How To Deliver A Wedding Toast That Isn’t Cringe
So you’ve been asked to prepare a wedding toast. Where do you start? How do you make it special for the couple, yet not boring for the guests?
As someone who’s had to give toasts, and who’s witnessed a few good ones, but has sat through many bad ones, here are my tips on how to deliver one that is memorable, yet meaningful:
Open with a bit of backstory
After introducing yourself, (briefly) share about how you know the couple before launching into your stories. And be purposeful about the milestones that you choose. If you’re a long-time pal of the bride, instead of recalling a memory from every stage of life, pick two or three that convey who she is and what she means to you.
Bonus tip: While you’re probably closer to one half of the couple than to the other, include a shout-out to the other half. A word of appreciation for their character, or a heartwarming story about the first time you met them can go a long way.
Be funny, but don’t feel pressured to deliver a stand-up routine
No wedding speech is complete without a bit of light roasting, but keep it tasteful – for instance, if you know that the groom just got passed over for a promotion, don’t joke that he sacrificed his career on the altar of wedding planning.
But you don't have to deliver joke after joke - lean into your sentimentality with a few touching anecdotes. If the bride or groom have any overseas family members or friends who couldn’t make it for the wedding, you can even ask them to record a message to the couple and play it as part of your speech. We can guarantee that tears will be shed.
Order that second (or third) glass of wine only AFTER giving your toast
Now is not the time to stumble drunkenly onstage. While a tipple might help quell any nervousness about public speaking, a clear, well-organised speech will probably be received better than a rambling and chaotic one rife with “funny” asides that you hadn’t originally planned on sharing.
Use visual aids
Be it a slideshow full of baby photos or a compilation of nostalgic video clips, visual aids can go a long way in making your toast come alive. If you’re bad at telling jokes, a well-placed photo will do the trick for you! Just remember to keep things family-friendly and to leave out any pictures that will make the couple look too messy in front of any bosses or colleagues in attendance.
Keep it short
As a guest, there’s nothing more tedious than having to wait 20 minutes between the third and fourth course because of a toast-turned-soliloquy, followed by another 20 minutes between the fourth and fifth course because of another neverending toast.
The bride and groom will likely give a speech too, and oftentimes this is toward the end of the banquet or the ceremony. You don’t want to tire guests before it gets to their turn, and you certainly don’t want your speech to delay the schedule. Keep it to 10 minutes, which is long enough for anecdotes, jokes, and well-wishes, yet short enough to hold people’s attention.
Finally, have fun! You don’t need to be a TED Talk-level public speaker in order to deliver a memorable toast. What’s important is that you honour the couple and speak from the heart.