How to Properly Give a Toast

I'm sure we have all experienced a wedding toast that went on too long or was embarrassing at a wedding. We have probably also experienced some great toasts that are memorable. It can be nerve racking to give a toast or a speech at a wedding. Don't get caught up rambling on and on and be the person who needs to have the microphone taken away! Here are some tips on how to properly give a toast. 
Kate and Mike's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Cliff Mautner Photography
Be Prepared and Write it Down
Don't wait until the wedding day to come up with what things you are going to say. Even if you are great at thinking on your feet or speaking on a whim, it's good to have some notes written down just in case your mind goes blank.

Keep it Short and Sweet
Keep your speech short, no more than 5 minutes. You want the toast to reflect the bride and groom. This will guarantee that you time will be spent talking about them. There will most likely be other speeches, so keep your time to a minimum. 

Don't Be Embarrassing
The wedding is not the place to embarrass the bride and groom. Save that for the bachelorette/bachelor party. Don't mention any ex-girlfriends/boyfriends or anything that may be a touchy subject. You may think that your embarrassing story will get a great laugh, however, just remember that there are older family members in the audience and those guests might not find your humor so funny. Keep your speech clean and friendly.

Don't Get Drunk
Avoid drinking too much alcohol prior to your toast. If you need something to calm your nerves, make it a small drink. You are there to represent the bride and groom. Remind them why they selected you to give a toast. 

Practice Makes Perfect
Write down your speech or make note cards. Practice your speech in front of the mirror or a friend. Re-read it several times so you are familiar with what you want to say. Pretend to make gestures and eye contact. Time yourself to make sure you are not talking too quickly. Take short pauses to gather yourself and get yourself on track. You don't need to memorize it, but becoming familiar with it will help you when you are speaking in front of everyone. Remember to speak slowly, clearly and don't forget to smile!

Make it Personal- End on a Positive Note
Think about things that you would like to say to the bride and groom. After introducing yourself, a few ways to begin your speech is to mention the ceremony (ex: "What a beautiful ceremony we witnessed today") or start with an inspirational quote that fits with the day. Then follow up with a story about how you met, a memorable event that you all shared, some things that you admire about the couple, how the couple met, etc.  Try to stay away from the cookie cutter one liners that many people use in wedding speeches (ex: "For those of you who don't know me..."). Try to be original and let your natural personality shine through. 

Raise Your Glass
Don't forget to toast the bride and groom! End your speech with a congratulations and Cheers!


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