How to Give the Best Toast at a Wedding
It starts with, "Will you be my Best Man/Maid of Honor?" Included in that very important role is giving a toast on a microphone in the middle of the reception room with 200 people watching. Oh, and it's also supposed to be heartfelt, meaningful, and memorable. And, it will be used in their wedding films so they will hear your words for generations to come. Ah! Now what?
We've seen hundreds of toasts, sometimes mistaken as "roasts", that range from the amazing to the "uh-oh!". Here is not the place for gory details, but we can help with how to avoid embarrassing yourself or your loved one at their wedding with such an important job. Here are a few tips for how to be confident and deliver the perfect toast.
What NOT to Do:
Procrastination is not your friend. The best time to collect your thoughts is NOT while you're lining up for introductions after too many drinks at cocktail hour. Preparation is best days or weeks ahead of the big day.
Off-the-Cuff is not a good plan. Even the most experienced public speakers have talking points. If you're planning to freestyle your way through it, know that your nerves will get the best of you and you'll either dry up or ramble, neither of which anyone wants to hear.
There are no I's in Toast. It's not about you, this is not your chance to make yourself look good. Keep what you say about the Bride and the Groom.
"Back in the day...". Avoid detailed stories of your life history together including boring camp stories and accounts of misbehavior in school. Remember it's not about you, nobody is there to hear your reminiscing of things that only mean something to you and the groom. Keep any stories simple and current.
It's a Toast, not a Roast. Just because you're nervous/unprepared/drunk, it's cheap to get a laugh by humiliating the bride or the groom in your speech. You're asked to be the Best Man or Maid of Honor because they care about you and they assume you have their back. Keep it real, keep it positive.
Unless you're a comedian, skip the jokes. This is not the Improv, nor your audition for Fallon. And most of all, avoid props. We've seen poorly executed jokes go painfully wrong, and there's no way to take it back.
Ex's or Sex, this is not the place. Do not bring up past relationships, proposals, or spouses. Do not compare the bride to ex-girlfriends, and vice-versa. And keep it clean. If you wouldn't feel comfortable saying it directly to your own grandmother, leave it out of your toast. Respect is the rule.
What TO Do:
Script, please. Use your phone or use handwritten notes. Talking points are best rather than word for word, giving it that natural pace while keeping the sentiment.
Rule of 3: Breathe, speak clearly into the microphone, and stand still.
Keep it simple. Follow these steps:
1.Introduce yourself to the room and how you know the bride or groom.
2. Next, tell everyone a relevant story or quality you admire about either about the bride, groom, and/or them together as a couple.
3.Now, say positive, genuine words directly to them, and what you hope for them in their marriage, and their future together. Include a simple expression with how happy you are they are now married.
4. Raise your glass and offer, "To the happy couple!
Not too short, not too long. 3 minutes is a good minimum, but not too much longer, especially if there are others who will be taking a turn.
Practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but it increases your confidence and helps you craft what you're trying to say. When an amazing toast happens, it marks one of the most positive moments of the wedding.
These are good rules for anyone who's been tapped to say a few words, and you can even test your skills on a smaller scale the night before at the rehearsal dinner. Here's to you!