Wedding toasts can be just as nerve-wrecking for the couple getting married as the guests giving it. We’ve all heard those horror stories of family and friends humiliating the bride or groom with memories of your crazy college days or when you peed in that wading pool when you were a old enough to know better. Which is why everybody involved with a wedding toast needs a primer on what to do…and definitely on what NOT to do.
To start, depending on your wedding timeline, wedding toasts typically take place either during dinner’s first course or just before dessert, and can involve funny, sweet, or sentimental stories about the bride and/or groom as well as well wishes to the happy new couple. While anyone can give wedding toasts, it’s customary for at least three people to give a short speech: the father of the bride, the best man and the maid of honor.
Giving a speech at an upcoming wedding or simply want to remind your MOH of what not to say? Follow these easy tips and tricks to help you all feel calm, relaxed, and prepared for those memorable (in a good way) wedding toasts.
Do: Keep it short
Toasts should only be 3-5 minutes. Any longer and guests may begin to get antsy, any shorter and it looks like you completely forgot you had to give a speech and made something up on the spot!
Don’t: Wing it.
Preparation and practice will help calm your nerves. Make sure you’ve practiced your toast a few times out loud before performing in front of the crowd.
Do: Include humor.
A lot of the wedding day is serious and mushy. Insert a few jokes to get guests laughing and indicate that it’s time for the party to start! Just make sure to keep it clean—there may be grandparents or priests in the audience.
Don’t: Talk about exes.
Even if you think it’s funny, you don’t want to embarrass the bride or groom too badly—and nobody wants to think about their spouse’s ex-boyfriend or girlfriend on their wedding day.
Do: Tell stories.
Did the bride used to doodle the groom’s name in her notebook in high school? Did the groom spend his lunch hour stalking her on Facebook and working up the courage to ask her out? Some lighthearted, good-natured stories are always good toast material. Again, keep it clean—no graphic stories about keg parties or the bachelor party.
Don’t: Ignore VIPs
Chances are there are close relatives or friends who’ve come from far and away. Give those people special shout-outs…the bride and groom will love it.
Do: Compliment the bride and groom.
Can’t stand your best friend’s guy? Too bad—they’re married now. Find a way to give him a compliment, even if you have to get creative (i.e.: Party animal? Try something like “Scott knows how to show Katie the lighter side of life!” or “Laughter is key to a great marriage!”). And ditto if you’re a relative. For example, if you’re the groom’s brother or bride’s sister, make sure to verbally welcome their new spouse into the family (and mean it!).
Do: Include quotes.
There are tons of great movie or love quotes you can use. Is the bride a huge Harry Potter fan? Include a quote from one of the books! If the groom is all about hysterical Vince Vaughn movies, use something from Wedding Crashers. Just be sure to make the quotes stand out.
Don’t: Drink too much beforehand.
Um, self-explanatory. A sloshed speech will be awkward for everyone, and there’s plenty of time to hit the bar afterwards!
Do: Use notes.
You may think you’ve got the toast on lock, but a few index cards never killed anyone. They’ll calm your nerves and help you feel more at ease. Just make sure not to be reading off of them—write a few key phrases, and then try to freestyle the in-between parts to make it sound natural.
Don’t: Talk too much about yourself.
The toast needs to be focused on the couple; even if you were present for a story you’re telling, don’t dwell on your presence.
Do: Thank everyone for coming.
It’s a simple way to get the ball rolling or to wrap up your speech.
Don’t: Forget to actually toast!
Wedding toasts shouldn’t end with a rambling “and…yeah.” End your toast with, “So, let’s raise a glass to the bride and groom! Cheers!”
Giving a wedding toast doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. After all, you’re there because the bride or groom values you and has given you a position of honor. Feel loved and don’t overthink it. At the end of the day, sincerity goes a long way—just speak from the heart and enjoy a drink afterwards!