Wedding Toast Examples and Speech Writing Tips from the Experts
While giving a wedding toast is a no doubt an honor, it can certainly be a bit nerve-wracking too. But whether you're the best man, father of the bride, maid of honor, or part of the wedding party, toasting the newlyweds can be a breeze if you follow a few simple tips. For that advice, we've turned to Katelyn Peterson, owner of Wedding Words writing services, and Beth Sherman, a wedding speech and comedy writer, who dish on how to give the best wedding toast at a wedding reception, rehearsal dinner, or engagement party.
The Basics of Giving a Wedding Toast
One of the hardest parts of writing a wedding toast is getting started. Here are the most important dos and don'ts, straight from the pros.
Do Keep It Concise.
"You do not need to say things like, 'For those of you who don't know me,'" Peterson explains. "Instead, just state your name, role, and relation to the couple." Given that your toast should only be two to five minutes long, you'll want to get straight to the point. Here's an example introduction from Peterson: "Hi everyone! I'm Jessica Davis, the maid of honor, and I've known this beautiful bride since we met at summer camp back in middle school."
Do Be Honest.
Worried about your public speaking nerves or your tendency to shed a bit more tears than the room might be ready for? The best way to diffuse the situation and create humor out of it is to be upfront, Sherman advises. "Your honesty lets the other guests see every shake and voice crack as testament to the magnitude of your affection for the person you're speaking about," she says. A best man Sherman worked with, for example, added this line at the beginning of his speech: "So if I pass out, all I ask is that someone drags me back to my table in time for cake."
You should actually write out your speech, practice it several times out loud, and bring it with you. "No matter how strong of a public speaker you are, don't go into the wedding with plans to 'wing it,'" Peterson explains. It's also more than okay to read your typed or handwritten toast at the event. As Sherman puts it: "A wedding speech isn't a TED talk or a Broadway show. The audience doesn't have any expectation of memorization. You don't lose a single point going up there speech in hand." Ideally, after practicing out loud, your speech will be "pretty darn near memorized" Sherman says, which will allow you to use your written speech as a guide without reading it straight off the page.
Do Be Specific.
The golden rule of all creative writing: show, don't tell. Keep that in mind as you prepare your speech. Detailed examples are key here. "Don't just tell us the groom loves the bride 'so much.' Give us indisputable evidence," Sherman says. "I wrote a speech for a maid of honor who told me that the groom slept with an EpiPen under his pillow because he's violently allergic to cats and the bride has three of them. That's love."
Do Make Sure They Can Hear You.
"If people can't hear you clearly, they won't react to what you say. No reaction means no laughter and you'll be distracted wondering why all your jokes are falling flat," Sherman says. Fortunately, this can all be avoided by opening with one simple line: "Can everybody hear me?"
Don't Tell Too Many Inside Jokes.
While you and the bride or groom might get a kick out of your quips, it might be a bit uncomfortable if none of the couple's family members or friends can follow along. "Design a speech that everyone can enjoy. Inside jokes exclude the majority of guests. Opt for stories that are inclusive for the biggest impact," Peterson says.
On the other hand, inside jokes can paint a highly personal picture of who the bride or groom is. So if you do include personal references, Sherman suggests making sure they don't go over anyone's head by adding in a word or two of explanation. "Make sure every guest can follow every joke and every story. Imagine listening to your speech if you were someone's plus one or aunt," she says.
Don't Bring up Past Planning Stressors.
Any tough moments or emotional decisions leading up to the wedding day? Don't mention 'em, Peterson says, even if you think everyone might laugh about it now." Couples work so hard to make their wedding day happen. The last thing they want to rehash during the reception is how the tuxes almost didn't arrive or how COVID forced them to cut their guest list," she explains.
How to Structure Your Wedding Toast
While writing a wedding toast should be a bit more fun than writing a school paper, you might consider starting out the same way—by creating an outline. Here's how to format your wedding toast, from start to finish.
Briefly explain who you are and how you know the couple so everyone understands why you were chosen to speak.
"When in doubt, thank! You'll never regret adding a thank you, but you will regret forgetting one," Sherman says. If you're a member of the bridal party, Sherman suggests thanking your hosts. If you're one of the hosts, thank your guests for their love, support, and attendance on your special day.
Talk about your relationship with the bride or groom. Use one to three short anecdotes that illustrate who that person is to you. Then sing their new partner's praises and share why you think the two are a good match.
"Detail your wishes for their future or any advice you want to share," Peterson says, and then, per Sherman's advice, raise your champagne glass and toast to the happy couple before heading off the dance floor.
Writing Prompts from the Pros
Feeling stuck for what to say as the big day approaches? No worries. Even if you've known the happy couple since birth (or you literally birthed one of them yourself) it can be tricky to get your thoughts down on paper. Here are some of Peterson and Sherman's favorite brainstorming prompts.
- What makes you grateful for your friendship?
- What qualities do they have that you don't?
- What was the most fun time you've had together?
- What was the worst vacation you two took together? What went wrong and how did they react?
- What are your wishes for their future?
- What do you believe is the key to a happy marriage?
- Why do you think this couple will have a successful marriage?
- What does each partner bring out in the other?
- What does true love mean to you and how do you feel this couple shares that?
- How did you first meet?
- What bonded you as friends?
- Is the bride or groom a crazy super-fan of anyone or anything?
- When did you first hear about your loved one's future spouse?
- What was the first time you met their partner like, and what was the couple like together?
- For siblings and parents, what was the bride or groom like as a kid?
Wedding Toast Quotes to Borrow
If you're thinking of adding quotes to your wedding speech, it's good to keep in mind that "the couple wants to hear from you...not a Grey's Anatomy character," as Peterson puts it. If you're still feeling like you need a little extra help though, it can't hurt to include a love quote or two, so long as it's relevant to the couple and illustrates the greater message you're trying to share about who the pair is. "If you're including a quote, it's best to have it feel as if there's a reason it's there," Sherman explains. Some of her favorite examples: Referencing a particularly relevant line from a song by a band that's significant to the couple or including a religious quote if faith is important to them.
Here are a few ideas more ideas that anyone from the father of the bride to the best friend to snag for a toast on the couple's special day.
"For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." - Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally
"Love isn't something you find. Love is something that finds you." - Loretta Young
"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." - Mignon McLaughlin
"What's meant to be will always find a way." - Trisha Yearwood
"I don't want to sound foolish, but remember love is what brought you here. And if you've trusted love this far, don't panic now. Trust it all the way." - Sharon Rivers, If Beale Street Could Talk
"May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day in paradise." - Rumi
"A good marriage is a contest of generosity." - Diane Sawyer
"I love you very much, probably more than anybody could love another person." - Henry Roth, "50 First Dates"
"With a love like that. You know you should be glad." - The Beatles
"Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses." -Ann Landers
"How wonderful life is while you're in the world." - Elton John
"Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass." - Mac MacGuff, Juno
"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." - Aristotle
"I think I'd miss you even if we'd never met." - Nick Mercer, The Wedding Date
"A good marriage is one where each partner secretly suspects they got the better deal." - Anonymous
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu
"You are my sun, my moon, and all my stars." - E.E. Cummings
Wedding Toast Examples for Inspiration
If you're new to the whole toasting thing, it's certainly helpful to hear or read others' speeches before making your own. For that, Peterson wrote up some wedding toast examples and shared them just with us below.
Parent Speech Example
This speech by Katelyn Peterson is the perfect starting point for a mother or father of the groom speech or a mother or father of the bride speech.
Good evening and welcome to Nick and Sam's wedding. My wife and I couldn't be more excited to share this special occasion with you. Thank you for being here to show this couple your continued love and support.
When Nick was a little boy, he would walk into my workshop every Saturday morning and ask me the same question: "What are you building?"
Some weekends it was a bird feeder. Other weekends it was a crib for when his little sister came along.
But no matter what the project was, Nick was excited to help transform blueprints to life. Those were the early signs of my son being the dreamer I now know him to be.
But unlike with many dreamers, my son doesn't just let his imagination remain in his mind. He breathes life into his ideas through his determination, passion, and heart.
Looking at him smile today as he sits next to his new spouse, I can see that Nick has once again turned a dream into a reality.
Son, walk into your marriage the same way you used to walk into my workshop. And every day ask yourself, "What are you building?"
Some days you'll be building new ways to communicate.
Other days you'll be building your own family traditions.
But know that you'll always be building memories in the process.
And most importantly, remember to bring that same sense of optimism and excitement you did as a kid.
Cheers to Nick and Sam as they begin building their life together!
Maid of Honor Speech Example
Check out this speech example by Katelyn Peterson—it also can be a helpful template if you're putting together a best man speech.
Hello everyone! I'm Avery, the maid of honor. Though before tonight, the bride affectionately referred to me as Tagalong because I was always the tagalong little sister. I was constantly asking Savannah, "Can I join?"
Whether it was middle school slumber parties, high school dances, or weekends spent at her college sorority house...I wanted to follow my sister. And that's because fun always followed her.
I remember one family vacation where it was just us and my parents on an 18-hour car ride to Florida. And for those of you who know our dad...you know a road trip isn't about stopping for greasy fast food...even though Savannah managed to always convince him to drive through Taco Bell. No...with our dad...it's all about "making good time." Which meant infrequent stops and for this stir-crazy little sister...pure boredom.
But my sister has an almost superpower ability to take the most mundane moments and turn them into fun.
Our fun on those long Florida-bound drives came in the form of mad libs, magazine quizzes, and makeovers. Well, that is if you can consider trying on every shade of our mom's lipstick as a real makeover.
So when I met Phillip, I knew this was the man for my sister.
He cares for her, supports her, and makes her laugh in a way that I thought was only unique to Savannah's comedic skills.
Anyone who brings my sister this level of happiness is someone who I am excited to consider family.
It's been an honor and a joy to have spent my life following around someone who is as smart, thoughtful, and hilarious as my sister.
Cheers to a lifetime of you two continuing to have fun together!