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How to Give an Unforgettable Wedding Toast

Everyone has heard of the traditional wedding toast. You know, where the groom’s best man stands up and gives a speech to all those gathered at his friend’s wedding? That tradition is alive and well, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Someone you love is getting married, and you’ve just been asked to give a speech at the wedding. What an honour! But also, if you’re not used to giving speeches, what a nightmare!

Public speaking can be scary, which is why many people prefer to avoid it. But when your best friend asks you to make a speech at his or her wedding, it’s time to rally. But now you’re wondering if you even know how to write a wedding speech! What makes some wedding speeches fun and memorable, and what makes others cringe and fall flat?

We’ve got you. We’ve put together the ultimate guide for how to write a wedding speech, focusing on things you definitely should do, something you definitely should NOT do, and then how to deliver your killer wedding speech like a pro.

With these tips for giving an unforgettable wedding toast, you can make your speech stand out from the rest! So if you’ve been asked to provide one on behalf of a friend or family member about to tie the knot, read on so you can wow them with your words.

The wedding toast is one of the most important speeches you will ever give. So it’s your time to offer sincere and personal congratulations from your heart, to wish the bride and groom well for the future.

This blog post will help you give a wedding toast that everyone will love. It is not easy to think of what to say when you are in this position, but it should be a breeze with the tips below.

If you want to give a special wedding toast, a few guidelines will help you do so.

First of all, make sure your words come from the heart and show genuine love for the people being celebrated. Secondly, try not to be too wordy; no one likes listening to someone talk on and on about themselves or their day. Lastly, keep it lighthearted with some funny stories sprinkled in!

From planning your speech ahead of time to remembering some key points about the couple, there are plenty of helpful pointers that will make it easier for you to deliver a special toast at their wedding reception.

Here are some tips on how to give an unforgettable wedding toast:

Wedding Toast Template

Think of your speech as a story that ties everything together with a cohesive beginning, middle, and end.

In the words of our speech-writing expert, “The goal is never one perfect sentence or paragraph; it’s always a whole that becomes greater than the sum of its parts.” So here are some of the key features a toast should include.

1. Identify yourself 

Chances are, there are a few people in attendance that have no idea who you are. So, take a second to briefly introduce yourself and explain your relationship to the couple.

No matter how large or small the wedding is, it’s likely you will not be familiar with many of the guests on one or both sides. And they won’t be familiar with you either. So please don’t leave them guessing!

When you start to write a wedding speech, make sure to introduce yourself and mention how you know the couple. This will help them understand the context of your speech, allowing it to be more well-received.

2. Thank the hosts 

Let’s not forget who actually made it possible (a.k.a., footed the bill) for this whole shindig in the first place. So your first thoughts should be an expression of gratitude to whoever is hosting this event.

When you begin, be grateful, be gracious, and then be grandiose. Being grateful and gracious shows, you’re thinking so that when you make your next statement, the audience is ready and willing to lean in to see where you’re going with it.

It’s also courteous to take this time to thank the hosts and other members of the wedding party for all the hard work that went into the event and to thank guests for being there to support the newlyweds, especially those who had to travel far.

It’s also a good time to officially congratulate the newlyweds and offer them your well-wishes for their future. You mustn’t forget this part because they are the whole reason you’re there and giving a speech!

3. Introduce the theme 

This is going to be the defining aspect of your toast. If you’re at a loss for words, meditate on the person you’re toasting and noting the first word that comes to mind. Whatever that word is will become the theme or thesis.

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4. Add supporting memories 

Your value as a toast-maker is your first-hand experiences with the newlyweds. These memories will serve as the supporting evidence your theme needs.

In doing this, you’re inviting the audience into your personal experience of the toastee and giving them a view of that person or couple that they’ve probably never gotten to have before.

Jot down the memories you share with the bride or groom, the stories that always make you think of them, and the characteristics they possess that make them superb friends. There are no wrong answers or stories. You’re just brainstorming!

5. Bring it all together 

Conclude by clarifying how everything you just mentioned led up to the current moment, leaving the guests feeling like they know the couple even better than before.

Simply put: Talk about how the person you are toasting is a better, happier, more full human being because of the person sitting next to them, which should be entirely thanks to the trait your thesis states. Extra points go to the speaker who can make that growth due to the trait in an unexpected way.

6. Congratulate the newlyweds 

This is the whole reason why you’re here, so don’t let the seemingly obvious slip your mind. Instead, make sure to applaud the couple’s union and provide a few words and well-wishes for their future.

7. End with a toast 

Whether you are a drinker or not, remember to raise your glass to the couple at the end of your toast. Better to raise an empty glass than refuse to participate at all at the end of your simple wedding toast.

Wrap things up with your closing remarks and ask everyone to join you in toasting the newlyweds. If you want to get a little fancy, find a way to incorporate an echo of your thesis statement within the toast portion (without it getting too wordy).

You’ll look brilliant, but all you did was throw out a callback for the audience to latch onto.

Wedding Toast Tips

Really consider your very special relationship with the people getting hitched. You don’t have to give them sage marriage advice or try to be a stand-up comedian or subscribe to whatever Google suggests.

All good speeches have a good flow and take the audience along with it.

Just do what feels natural, and focus on how happy you are for the couple. And if you must rap, save it for the after-party.

Don’t let your speech fall flat or jumbled together in a haphazard confusion of disconnected anecdotes. Instead, give it the structure of an overarching theme, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

We are not talking about a novel here; make sure there is a direction to where the speech is going and the destination, end, or sentiment is achieved.

It doesn’t need to be Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, but a three-act structure does help keep you grounded. Most people also follow a story easier when there is a clear direction for a story or speech.

Once you’ve found your personal rhythm, follow some of these tips to ensure you nail the delivery of your wedding toast.

1. Start planning early

If you don’t know how to write a wedding speech, but the bride just asked you to give one, this is not a time to procrastinate. Public speaking is one of the number one fears many people have, so it’s likely you’ve avoided giving too many public speeches before this.

And unless you’re a performer or a veteran improv comedian, you might not do too well winging this one. If you get nervous in front of an audience (as most of us do), the best defence against freezing up when you take the mic is being prepared.

As soon as you know you’ve been asked to give a speech at the wedding, begin jotting down notes immediately. Whenever you’re inspired by a thought of the couple or remember an anecdote that might be worth retelling, make a note of it. This will help to give you a pool of ideas to draw from when you start writing down the speech.

Begin gathering ideas and writing the speech a couple of weeks to a month before the wedding. You’ll need time to edit, fine-tune it, and make it concise.

And as wedding showers, bachelorette parties, and other wedding festivities begin, you might find there are entertaining stories from these events you want to add as well. But, of course, if you’re going to write it all at once, you can do that too.

However, make sure to sleep on it and come back with fresh eyes. You don’t want just “okay,” you want your speech to be heartfelt and meaningful.

You will also want to begin early to give yourself time to practice and rehearse your speech plenty of times.

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2. Speak to both halves of the couple

If you’re the maid of honour and have been chatting up the bride for the whole speech, part of how to write a wedding speech is to make sure at some point it circles around to the groom, too, and to the two of them as a couple.

Recount the time you met him or how you remember talking about him with the bride in the beginning stages of their relationship. If you don’t know the groom all that well, talk about how good they are as a couple and about how happy he makes her.

Even if you know one much better than the other, it’s important to remember that you are celebrating their relationship together, not your relationship with one of them. If you only talk about one entity, you’ll be alienating at least half of the guests in attendance who may only know their counterpart.

The speech can be focused about 2/3 on your friend, but remember to acknowledge the person they’re marrying. This should go beyond the standard, “Oh, and doesn’t the bride look lovely tonight!”

Hey, we don’t all have to be best pals with the people our friends marry. So, if you have nothing specific to say about them, instead focus on a story your friend told you about their spouse-to-be, like a time they really showed up for the bride, whether or not you were there to witness it.

Suppose you’re finding it difficult to come up with anything. In that case, a useful approach for writing a wedding speech is to think of 3 positive defining traits or qualities of the bride or groom and recount three stories or examples that illuminate a time they exhibited these traits.

These stories could be comedic, heartwarming, or both. Just make sure they are relevant and entertaining!

3. Keep personal stories in good taste 

Whether you are the maid of honour, the best man, father of the bride, or just a friend, you were asked to give a speech because of your close connection and relationship with either the bride or groom (or both).

And since you know your friend as well as you do, you probably have plenty of stories to share, so the next tip for how to write a wedding speech is don’t hesitate to make it personal and share those stories!

This will also help guests get to know the other half of the couple they might not know as well or are just meeting for the first time. And those guests who do know them will love hearing some entertaining stories they might not have heard yet.

The next thing to keep in mind when considering how to write a wedding speech is to make sure you consider who your audience is.

Keep in mind who your audience is. It usually comprises multiple generations of family, friends, and work colleagues. Don’t tell any stories that may come across as inappropriate or mention exes.

Your friend’s boss really doesn’t need to know details about how the bachelor party went down or how bad a previous flame was. Keep your tone light and positive, always bringing it back to the newlyweds and the present moment.

This is not the bachelor or bachelorette party. Instead, there will be a wide range of people present, from children to the elderly and from close friends of the bride and groom to casual acquaintances and coworkers.

Make sure your speech is free of any crudeness that might not be fit for such a varied audience. Also, this isn’t the time to take a shot at any of the religious ceremonies.

When you’re looking back through all of those anecdotes, consider how these tales can come together with a narrative arch versus just a stream of “Remember when this happened…”

For example, if you start by telling a funny story about your friend being petrified of the ocean when you were kids, tie it back to how comfortable she is swimming with her partner now. So many memories can be turned into metaphors; you have to look.

4. Be mindful of inside jokes 

There’s nothing wrong with an inside joke, but only if you make sure, the audience finds themselves on the inside through your telling of it. Otherwise, inside jokes for the sake of inside jokes tell an audience it’s okay to tune out because you aren’t talking to them.

Once you go down that road, it’s tough to get their attention back. So if you’re going to be using humour in the toast, be sure to balance it with emotional undercurrents to provide depth.

They make everyone feel like outsiders. Instead, think about the tidbits you want to tell and explain the story (and why it’s so indicative of the type of person the bride or groom is) to the audience.

And, if you are going for a humorous speech, avoid using the cliché “in all seriousness”. Nothing is ever… that serious.

5. Be yourself 

A fancy, polished, well-rehearsed version of yourself. If you’re not a comedian, don’t be a comedian. But know that a light touch of humour will go a long way because it’s unexpected, and that can be a lot of fun.

The same goes for sentimentality; it’s all about striking the right harmony. And remember, your friends know who you are, and they’ll definitely be able to tell if you’re putting on a show for the crowd. So stay true to yourself and be genuine.

6. Time it  

One of the rules for writing a wedding toast is to keep it brief. While you might have a lot to say, you will find that having a short wedding toast is much better than a long one. To avert boredom on the part of your guests, anything under two to three minutes is perfect.

You want your speech to be meaningful and memorable, but the wedding is not about you, and yours is not the only speech.

It’s sad to admit, but more often than not, people see you as a barrier to the bar, so keep the speech short and sweet and leave the crowd wanting more.

Toasts are usually around five minutes long—enough time to share a few sweet memories or sentiments, but not so long that guests lose interest.

No one ever complains about a speech being too short, but they do begin to grumble if it runs on too long. So a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when figuring out how to write a wedding speech is to keep your speech between 2-5 minutes long.

Any longer than 5 minutes, and you’ll lose everyone to thoughts of cake and whether or not to Cupid Shuffle later.

7. Rehearse

Practice saying your toast a few times after it is written. Even better in front of a mirror. This will help you greatly when it is time to do it live. For example, if you build your toast around a quote for a wedding toast, this could help keep it memorable and easy to recall when you need it.

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8. Deliver 

A great speech isn’t just a funny compilation of words; it’s also about delivery. Make sure you’re standing tall—never, ever remain seated—and exuding confidence in a location where everyone can see you (otherwise, they will tune you out).

It’s perfectly appropriate to use flashcards or even read from a piece of paper if you’re nervous. Just not a phone and not an iPad. A glowing face is bad for photos, and what happens if the power drains? Or did you get a call?

Speak clearly and audibly. And be it with toast quotes or a joke, insert something that will keep your guests attentive. You don’t want to struggle to be heard or try to speak over people already talking to one another.

Print notes on folded card stock (it’s thick and won’t shake if you get nervous), and make sure any page breaks land where you would naturally take a break.

9. Embrace the jitters 

Nerves are not the enemy. Instead, they’re an energizing jolt of energy that you can harness. He wasn’t nimble or quick because of the candlestick; it was because of the fire. Being on your toes is a totally legal performance enhancer.

Try to embrace the idea that the butterflies in your stomach might use their wings to help you fly over the flame before you.

10. Don’t forget to smile! 

Make sure your face reflects the love in your heart with a great, big grin. Smiling triggers a release of feel-good neurotransmitters that help temper any excess nervousness you might be feeling—even when the smile is fake.

If you feel your nerves getting the better of you, look at the subject of your toast (aka the newlyweds) while you recite your speech and forget about the crowd.

11. Keep drinks to a minimum 

A glass of bubbly before giving a toast can do wonders to loosen you up a bit. But try to stick to one glass and remember this throughout the day (hello, pre-ceremony shots and getting-ready drinks). Too much alcohol can turn your carefully crafted sentiments into a big, slurred mess.

12. Add humour

Don’t be afraid to be funny! Another tip for how to write a wedding speech is that if you’ve got a lighthearted, creative, joking side, use it and add humour to your speech! Everyone likes to be entertained.

This doesn’t mean you should scour the internet for generic wedding-themed jokes, but if you’ve got some good original material to use that helps relate a story about the bride or groom in a comedic way, do it.

As long as you’re not making fun of the couple but having fun with them, jokes are great. Or you can even poke fun at yourself to illuminate a higher quality in your best friend. It’s all about making the newlyweds shine.

If you’re creative and have other talents, use them! If you are musical, bust out your instrument and vocal cords and make the speech in the form of a song! Use props, and get the other guests involved!

The newlyweds will feel special because you created something for them, and the guests will love joining in the fun.

13. It’s okay to be simple and meaningful

If entertaining isn’t your thing, that’s okay! Don’t force it – just be yourself. It’s okay to be simple and meaningful with your speech. When you go to write a wedding speech, always keep in mind that what’s important is that you are genuine and speak from the heart.

Do’s And Don’ts Of Wedding Toasts

What to include and what better to avoid in a wedding toast?

  • Do get everyone’s attention. Do it tactfully! If you choose to do so by clinking at a champagne glass, it can be not very pleasant.
  • Please don’t make it long. Keep it as short as possible. Speaking for two to three minutes should be the maximum.
  • Don’t say anything embarrassing! A wedding toast is not the time to swear, remember exes, or tell the stories of past failures. Don’t make everyone regret they gave you the mic!
  • Be sincere – your words should be truly heartfelt.
  • Don’t forget to raise your glass as you say the toast.
  • Do practice your toast at home – this way, you will deliver your toast more smoothly.

Wedding Toast Order

There is also a traditional order that wedding toasts follow. However, tradition isn’t set in stone, and you could rewrite the rules to fit your own wedding situation as you see fit. Below we have the simple order for wedding reception toast.

This should be quite similar for traditional and non-traditional weddings.

  • The best man is usually the first to give a toast.
  • The maid of honour gives her toast next.
  • After this, the event host, usually the mother or father of the bride, gives their toast.
  • The parents of the groom may or may not follow with their toast.
  • At this time, a few select gusts might go next.
  • In some settings, the bride or groom or the couple close with a toast of their own.

Any guests who would like to say something would usually notify the couple a few weeks before the wedding to be added to the queue.

However, if several guests are giving impromptu speeches during the reception, then it wouldn’t be out of line to join them in saying something heartfelt of your own.

Get Brainstorming!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to start brainstorming ideas for your speech.

  • Who is speaking immediately before or after you, and how will this affect the content of your speech? (Perhaps you would want to include a reference to their toast.)
  • What is the general tone you want your words to reflect? Joyful? Funny? Sentimental?
  • What’s a memory of the newlyweds that instantly comes to mind and always makes you smile?
  • When you picture the couple’s life together in a few years (or from this moment forward), what do you see?
  • Do you have any advice for the couple?
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