Image Credits: Madeleine Ball, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Take a minute to think of the many wedding receptions you’ve attended, and tell us how many of the toasts and speeches were truly memorable! Wedding speeches are considered an essential part of almost every wedding reception. With all eyes on the speaker, it can be a frightening experience for some. Now, if you are the best man or Maid of Honor, writing a wedding toast is definitely on the cards. So, when the couple ask you to honor them by speaking a few words on their wedding day, it can be one of your worst nightmares come true–unless you have always been great at public speaking or have always prepared for this opportunity! Nevertheless, it isn’t too difficult to prepare and deliver an effective toast with a few essential guidelines. In this article, we will look at tips for both the couple who have to decide who all speak at their wedding, as well as for the people who have to deliver these speeches. So, fear no more and read on to find out how to go about it.
Who usually performs a wedding toast?
Image Credits: Nan Palmero, via Flickr, CC By 2.0
The traditional practice is for the best man to toast the bride and Maid of Honor to toast the groom. So, they will mostly be the two people who the audience expect a speech from. So, if you have gladly accepted either of these roles, remember that you may have to speak on the day. If you are really uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience, it may be a good idea to mention this to the couple in advance, so they can plan accordingly.
Apart from these two people, there are many others who may and usually will speak at the reception. This usually includes the parents of the bride or groom (mostly the father), especially if they are hosting the wedding. Then, there may be other relatives or friends who would like to honor the couple with a brief message. The groom will also be expected to say a thank you note during the reception.
Tips for the bride and groom
#1 You do not need wedding toasts unless you are absolutely sure you do
We spoke about who are the people expected to give wedding speeches. This is the usual norm, but there is no compulsion to stick to it. The team on A Practical Wedding blog tells you to buck this traditional cast, if you want something different. Remember is that there is no need to have a toast at all. If you feel that it would be better this way, so be it. On the other hand, if you would like this to be a part of your reception, go for it. Don’t forget to think of how comfortable the person giving the toast would be. If it’ll be a nightmare for them and they would prefer to stay away from the stage, it is best to avoid it than embarrass them with doing something they hate, for your sake.
#2 Think well over who you should confer this honor on
You can imagine how inappropriate it would sound if the person at the mike were to start the speech with something like, “ I am not so close to the couple,” or something similar. Even worse, imagine how it would be if the speaker went on to embarrass the two of you with his inappropriate wit. So, make sure that the people who are invited to toast you are those who will do justice to the role. The best way is to choose people who are really dear to you, and ask them whether they would like to speak at your wedding. It is best to not compel anyone who is even remotely uncomfortable, as not everyone may be confident about speaking out aloud in front of many guests. If someone would like to think over it, give them enough time to come to a decision.
#3 Ask all those you love, not just those who are good at speeches
Is there someone in your wedding party who you would love to do your wedding toast, but haven’t asked because they’ve always shunned away from speeches? Why don’t you just ask them? Even the most reserved people often rise to the occasion, if they are really close to you and wouldn’t want to miss the chance to say a few special words on your big day. After all, they may make an exception for you as a few lines they say would be more meaningful to you than an impressive speech by someone who isn’t as close? So, don’t hesitate, just ask. If they decline the offer, you will still be better off asking than never knowing if they’d have liked it.
#4 Leave it to them entirely
Wedding toasts and speeches are supposed to be prepared in advance, but not with the approval of the couple. That spoils the entire intent. Rather than knowing everything that will be said and spoken, wouldn’t you prefer the surprise of hearing what your dear ones have to say about you, right when they say it? Lay off the pressure, and they will most likely do a great job. So, trust yourself when you choose the person to speak on the day, and then leave it to them to do the rest.
#5 Accept what you hear gracefully
Whether someone declines to deliver your wedding toast, or the toast doesn’t sound as impressive as you would have wanted it to, don’t feel bad about it. Remember that although the guest you asked is dear to you, the reason they don’t want to do a toast is not because they aren’t fond of you. It could just be that they aren’t comfortable speaking in public. And where the content of the speech is concerned, keep and open mind, pay attention and be happy for what was said. Don’t expect their speech to take a certain direction or be similar to what they’ve previously delivered on another occasion.
Now, that we’ve covered the part of the couple, let us move on to the other part of our discussion. Let us look at what makes an interesting wedding toast, and how you can prepare for it when assigned this important duty.
What makes an interesting wedding toast
#1 Start with a punch
Since you do not have forever to impress, it is necessary to pack your wedding toast with punch right from the beginning. For this, keep the message short, crisp and effortless. A quote, short verse or poem or a joke when chosen appropriately will help you grab the audience attention instantly.
#2 Keep it brief
The most memorable messages are short and sweet. Convey your best wishes to the couple in a personal way that they will appreciate, and finish it off quickly before anyone is too bored to listen any more. Even if you have known the couple for ever, and have lots of stories and trivia to discuss, this is not the right occasion. If you must, stick with one instance and leave it at that. Toasts and speeches that end in 5 minutes are usually best.
#3 Don’t sound too impersonal
The reason you have been chosen to say a speech is because you mean a lot to the couple. So, make sure your message is personal and from the heart. There is no harm in borrowing ideas off the internet or a magazine, but let the gist of the message be your own and make sure you say it with emotion, so it is worth remembering. If you have trouble remembering the lines, note it down,but never read it entirely. Keep it as reference, just in case you forget where you were going.
#4 It is alright if it isn’t funny
You know how everyone has that impression that the most memorable speeches have humor in them. If you are naturally humorous or can lace a joke into your message, definitely do so. But, never try to add humor just for the sake of sounding funny. It can sound like you are trying too hard, and may do more damage than good. Also, it is best to avoid personal and embarrassing jokes, that may not be appropriate for the situation.
#5 Don’t brag or insult
This is not the occasion for you to announce how hard you’ve had to work behind the scenes of the wedding, or what you’ve done for the couple. Keep the focus on them and also appreciate anyone else worth commenting. Never use your wedding toast as a chance to insult either the bride or groom, bring up past relationships or say anything offensive at all.
#6 Don’t be too nervous
If you are not very fond of public speaking, we can imagine how terrified you may feel. Remember that with practice, you will be better prepared to handle the situation. Prepare your script in advance, and practice it well. Don’t stress too much over how it will turn out. And when you are up for the act, don’t allow anyone’s reactions get to you. Just go with what you prepared, don’t make any last minute changes that may get you stuck with your lines, and you should be safe.
#7 Keep the audience in mind when preparing your speech
Although the actual intent of the toast is to congratulate the newly wed couple, thank all the people who made the wedding a success with a few extra lines thrown in, and make sure that those extra lines are relevant to the audience. If your speech contains instances that all the audience are unaware of, they can end up confused and perhaps, even bored. So, if you must share a story about the couple, make sure there are no loose ends. Additionally, it is necessary that you introduce yourself and add a brief line about how you are related to the couple, so all the listeners know who you are.
#8 Maintain eye-contact and speak slowly
Unless you are a seasoned expert, these factors needn’t come to you easily. However it is important, as this will help the audience follow all that you say and enjoy your speech much better. Look at the people around you, and specifically at the bride and groom when you mention them. Speak loudly and coherently, and speak slowly so everyone can easily follow what you say. If you speed through your lines, it can cause confusion as not all may follow what you said. So, remember the three golden words—slow, steady and clear.
#9 Conclude with a punch, just like you started it
Don’t let your enthusiasm wane as you reach the end of your speech. Make sure that you end your speech with a punch line that packs an impact, just like you planned the beginning of your speech. This is the right time to borrow an interesting saying, or use a quote that follows through with the rest of your speech, but lingers on in the minds of the listeners. Remember that there is only so much information that everyone will remember after your speech is over, and what you say at the end will mostly be the part that sticks. So, plan it well and you can create the impact you desire without much difficulty. Visit this article on Wikihow for some sample wedding speech endings to inspire you.
#10 Remain calm and contained even after it is over
You may feel like punching the air or even doing a somersault once your wedding toast is ever. Restrict the urge! Be calm and contained, and if you must, smile and let the feeling of a successful delivery sink in slowly. Save the antics for when you are alone, and you will end up making a much better impression.
That’s all there is to preparing and making a wonderful wedding toast. We told you it was simple and straightforward, didn’t we?
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