Anyone who's been to a wedding has heard someone give a wedding toast at the reception. Generally, it's delivered by the father of the bride, the best man, or a close friend or relative of the bride or groom.
Having been the recipient of a dreadful (i.e. long-winded and embarrassing) wedding toast at my own wedding and been a guest who has politely listened to others' mortifying/idiotic wedding toast sputterings, I offer these tips to those who want to write and give a great wedding toast that will be remembered with fondness.
Time Required: 2-3 hours over a few days
Here's How to Start:
- If you are not known to 50 percent of the assembled group, plan to briefly identify yourself and state your relationship to the couple before you launch into the toast. (But remember: It's about them, not you!) Then start the wedding toast off by offering a remark about the wonderful/ touching/ elegant/ memorable/ unique (or fill in your own adjective) ceremony you have all witnessed.
- Like a speech, a wedding toast has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Do not plan to offer an impromptu wedding toast unless you're very good at thinking on your feet. Instead, well before the wedding ceremony, write down your thoughts about the couple. What do people who love them say about their match? What occurs to you about their union? Do they have shared interests or passions?
- Identify and articulate positive qualities about the bride, the groom, and the two as a couple as you start to take notes. If you want to briefly walk down memory lane in your wedding toast, it's ideal to choose a memory that involves both the bride and the groom. Was there anything unique in the way they met? Or their engagement? These can make interesting anecdotes.
- Essentially, the wedding toast you deliver should be warm, personal, and brief. If you are a stand-up comedian, insert jokes. If you are not, play it straight. While you may have the urge to entertain, keep in mind that to the bride and groom your words will be remembered forever. Any mocking should be gentle and good-natured.
- Stumped for what to say? The Internet is filled with great quotations that you can use to start off your speech or get inspiration from.
- Do not give a wedding toast if you're drunk. Period.
- If the wedding toast is being recorded by a photographer or videographer, visit the restroom before you give the toast to straighten your hair and clothing.
- Other don'ts: Don't mention previous girlfriends, boyfriends, or spouses in a wedding toast. Don't talk about the cost of the wedding or wedding gifts. Don't talk about future plans the couple may have confided to you. This includes pregnancy and children.
- Do end the wedding toast on a high and hopeful note. Express all the good wishes in the room for the new couple's happy, healthy, prosperous future.
- Finally, ask the assembled group to join you in the wedding toast, lift your Champagne glass, and say, "To (name of bride) and (name of groom)...."
- Let everyone know the wedding toast is complete by adding your favorite clean down-the-hatch phrase, such as Cheers! or the ethnic Salut!, L'chaim!, A votre sante!, Za vashe zdorovye!, Prosit!, Skal! et cetera.
- Keep the wedding toast short, under five minutes.
- Focus on the couple, and face them when you toast. Avoid talking about your own marriage or relationship.
- Keep in mind that parents and older people will be present, so don't work blue.
- Allow yourself time beforehand to rehearse the wedding toast. If you tend to get nervous in front of groups, it's okay to read it from a card.
- Don't make silly honeymoon jokes.
- Let your warmest feelings for the couple shine through.
What You Need
- Feeling (or at least the appearance) of confidence
- Clear voice that carries
- Glass of champagne
- Attention of the guests
Just in Case
Should you witness someone else stumbling through a terrible wedding toast — perhaps the person is drunk, stoned, angry, tongue-tied or otherwise impaired — do the right thing and stop it for the sake of the bride and groom. Stand up, thank the speaker, raise the glass and toast the couple without referencing the disaster that preceded.