6 Wedding Toast Tips
You've just declared your love and devotion to each other at your wedding ceremony in front of a crowd of your nearest and dearest—now it's time to show your wedding guests some love. The wedding toast is the perfect opportunity to let your family and friends know how much their presence means to you on this special day. So what are you going to say, and how are you going to say it?
1. The Basic Framework
If you’re struggling with how to kick off your toast, start with something borrowed. Referencing part of a song, poem or quote can help set the tone, and if guests are still quieting down and miss your opening remarks, they’ll still get the jist. Look to popular love songs, familiar rhymes or great love quotes. None of those fit your style? Open with the story of how you met, a special moment from your pre-engaged dating days, the proposal story or a funny incident from your wedding planning journey. Then, end it with heartfelt thank-yous. The key players should be specifically addressed (your new spouse, parents and the wedding party) and then broaden it to family and friends.
2. The Do-Not-Say List
There’s no need to get too carried away—a toast doesn’t have to be more than three or four minutes. It's nice to tell a quick, illustrative anecdote, but if it’s too long guests might not be able to follow. Any stories you reference should be general enough for every listener to understand. In other words, leave out any inside jokes or details that might make people feel left out. Lastly, nix any words or phrasing that don’t come naturally to you—words you don't normally use will sound stiff and might cause you to stumble.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
While your toast should feel spontaneous and genuine, it's going to take some rehearsal to appear unrehearsed. Once you've sorted out your speech, recite it aloud. The first few times you do it, find the spots where you stumble or skip words and either cut or rewrite them. When the kinks are worked out, practice until you can comfortably sail through it. If public speaking isn’t your thing, take comfort in knowing you'll be in front of the friendliest audience possible and they'll want to listen to you.
4. Get an Opening Act
Letting your wedding party members open up the floor is not a bad plan—it gives you a minute to compose yourselves and you won't have to deal with waiting for everyone to get settled. They can also get the microphone testing out of the way too. Traditionally the best man serves as the toastmaster, and if the maid of honor chooses to toast, she comes next. After that, the two of you are on. Today many parents choose to toast after the newlyweds, especially if they're hosting the party.
5. Be Aware of Body Language
Keep in mind that most microphones are made to sound best at a distance about equal to that between your extended index and pinkie fingers. If you’ve got a mic in one hand, you’ll probably have champagne in the other, which takes care of the what-to-do-with-your-hands problem. It’s totally fine to walk around while you’re speaking if that makes you feel more comfortable, just be sure not to wander behind objects that will block you from anyone’s view (think: large floral arrangements or pillars). Reading from a piece of paper is okay too, but we recommend using more of an outline structure than reading word-for-word off index cards. If you’re constantly looking down, your voice won’t project as clearly and there won’t be as many opportunities for eye contact. Plus, it may not feel like it’s spoken from the heart.
6. Finish Strong
When you’re arriving at the end of your toast, adjust your tone of voice accordingly so guests have an audible cue to raise their glasses. Take the time to look around the room and make eye contact, let your words sink in and allow yourself and your guests to share this special moment together. Then toast to everyone who made your wedding possible and enjoy the rest of the celebration. Cake, anyone?
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