Knowing that you’ll need to give a great speech or toast at your friend or family member’s wedding can feel daunting, but here are a few tips (from someone who has seen a LOT of speeches) on how to give an amazing toast!
Writing Your Wedding Toast
A toast is something that you should prepare in advance for. Sit down well in advance of the wedding and draft out what you plan to say. Great speeches are generally pretty short (around 5 minutes) and totally unique. Googling speech content from the internet may get you out of doing the the speech writing, but it will not make for a memorable speech (and might be embarrassing if guests have heard it before).
Start with How You Met
If you’ve attended a wedding, you know that MANY toasts and speeches begin with “For those of you who don’t yet know me”. So you can go ahead and skip this part. Begin your speech with an anecdote or story about how you met, and just include who you are in that story. It’s weird to think about how you met a sibling, but I’ve heard many a great toast from a family member that begins at the very beginning: when a sibling is born or brought home.
Keep it More Toast than Roast
From here, it’s great to transition into a funny story, especially one that highlights an endearing part of their personality. Avoid inside jokes that no one is likely to get, and keep it lighthearted. This isn’t the time to bring up exes, skeletons from the closet, or mortifying stories.
Include the Meet Cute
Many of the guests may not know how the couple met or fell in love. As a close friend or family member, you have had a front row seat to their romance, and sharing that with the guests is a home run. Share about the first time you met their partner, or when you knew marriage would be in their future.
Wrap It Up
Some great options to bring things to a close are to bring back those endearing qualities and how they will well serve the marriage or offer some advice or wisdom of your own to the couple. Again, it’s tempting to google some phrases from the internet or fall into a cliche phrase here, but make this unique to the couple and your relationship with them. Be sure to actually include a toast at the end of your speech. More than once I’ve witnessed someone who says all they wanted to say then wanders aimlessly away, leaving the guests waiting with their glasses in the air. Cliche statements can sometimes work for this, if you’re feeling stuck. You can never go wrong with a simple “Cheers to the Happy Couple!”
You should also practice your toast. Run it by a close friend to get some feedback. Edit it for clarity and length if needed. Then practice. It’s fine to have notes with you on the wedding day, but you should be so familiar with your speech that if you get emotional or lose your place, you’re not totally lost.
You also want to be familiar with it so that you are speaking, not reading. You want to be able to look at the couple, and their guests, instead of down at a piece of paper or your cell phone notes.
Giving A Wedding Toast
The big day is finally here, and it’s time for you to give a toast! Now what?
Hold off on the Alcohol
One drink can help to calm the nerves. Five will turn you into a rambling mess. Hold off on heavy drinking until after you’ve given your speech. If you have a bit too much at cocktail hour or during portraits, , grab a quick snack and have some water about 30 minutes before you’re scheduled to speak.
The DJ, Planner, or Photo/Video team will likely tell you where to stand. Listen to them. They want you to look good. They will place you in a spot with good light, where everyone can see you and you’ll look good in the photos and video. Plant your feet in that spot. Pacing back and forth makes you look cagey and nervous, and it will make things difficult for the photograph and videographer. The couple values what you have to say, and they want it captured well to help them remember the day.
Hold the Mic at your Mouth
Microphones are super intimidating. I get it. You’re worried about being too loud, and you feel silly holding it, so many people don’t hold it close enough. Trust the DJ or sound engineer and bring it right up to your face. They will turn the volume down if needed. When the mic is too far away, they need to turn the gain way up, which can lead to feedback and all kinds of other unpleasantness.
Whatever you do, don’t be that person who refuses to use a mic and says “It’s fine! I’ll just talk loud.”
It’s not fine. Your video crew needs that nice clean mic audio for the video, and guests in the back of the room won’t be able to hear you over the ambient noise in the room.
Don’t Forget to Toast
Hold your glass up, toast the couple. Clink glasses with them, give out hugs and handshakes before you take your seat. If you happen to forget to bring your glass, someone can bring one or you can just go through the motions.
Want some more inspiration? Check out these films with amazing wedding toasts:
Alexandra and Jeff at the Greenbrier Resort
Megan and Stefan at The White Barn
Mary Kate and John at the Greenbrier Resort
And if you’re ready to book your MotionWorks Wedding Film to preserve those amazing toasts and speeches, contact us today for availability and pricing information!