How to Write the Best Wedding Toast
At some point in your life, your best friend, daughter, son, or sibling is going to get married and you may be asked to deliver a speech at the wedding. The terror, right? As hundreds of eyes focus on you, the pressure of making the perfect toasts hits you; What should you say? Public speaking is hard and we know you want to make it perfect for the new couple. We're here for you! Here is our formula for the best wedding toast and a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare.
What is a toast supposed to do?
If the toast is done well, it is supposed to be one of the most memorable and cherished parts of the reception. We've heard dozens of toasts, and the best speeches that we heard were short and sweet. The toast does not need to be extraordinary or poetic or even funny. In order for your toast to be unforgettable, it just needs to be personal and full of love. The bride and groom chose you because you have played such an important role in their lives! A great toast simply reflects that love right back at them.
The Magic Toast Formula
When you start your wedding toast, make sure you introduce yourself. Not everybody is going to know who you are, so it’s good to clarify right at the beginning. Talk about how you first met the bride or groom, especially if it's funny.
Ex) Adam and I met sophomore year at Carson-Newman. We were in a class and noticed we had the same sticker on our laptops, so we had to sit next to each other. We've been best friends ever since.
2) Share how the couple met
Were you there when the couple was first introduced? Did you introduce them? Do you remember what the bride or groom first said to you after they met? Maybe you got a text from the bride when the groom first asked her out. If you were a part of their lives when they met, talk about it!
Ex) As far as I knew Jamison and Lesley weren't really friends. So then Lesley comes up to me after church and was like, "Do you know where Jamison lives?" I was like, "yes...?" "Ok, how about we take him some ice cream?" It could not have been more awkwardly obvious. It was shocking to me then, totally out of the blue, but today, it all makes sense.
3) Share a story
Think about a memory you two have together and tie it into the wedding day somehow. Was your friend extra competitive during sports in college? Did the two of you play pranks on each other when you were younger? Did he or she get grounded for something really funny in high school? Once you have something in mind, try to connect it to the bride and groom’s future together or what it says about their marriage.
Ex) I walked up to my kitchen and there was this random guy washing dishes in the sink. I'm like, "Hey..." thinking, this is the strangest burglar in the world, and he turns around and is like, "Oh hey, I'm Phil, I'm living here with you now." Turns out my roommate hadn't told me we were adding another guy, so it was so confusing, but the perfect picture of who Phil is. He comes into your life unexpectedly, and then you can't ever imagine your life without him.
4) Be sentimental
Don’t be afraid to really tell the bride or groom how you feel about them in your wedding toast. If you’ve been best friends since childhood, let them know all the ways they’ve influenced you. If they're your son or daughter, let them know how proud you are of them. If there’s ever a time to be sappy, it's during their wedding toast. They’ll deeply appreciate your kind words.
Ex) Lesley was always there for me. Whether I needed a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on, I knew I could count on her. I know she’ll be an amazing wife to Jamison.
5) Talk about what a great match they are
As a close friend, parent, or sibling of the bride or groom, chances are you’ll honestly be able to speak on how they influence and complement each other. Did the bride become a neat freak after meeting the groom? Or did the groom develop a strong love for romantic comedies once they started dating?
Ex) When I became friends with Adam, I thought, "No one in the world could ever love Tennessee, the Vols, or Dolly Parton as much as Adam." Then he meets Katie, who celebrates Dolly's birthday every year, and in this silly way, a huge and profound truth is revealed: these two were made for each other.
6) Wrap it up
As you near the end of the wedding toast, wish them both the best on their journey together, raise your glass (and encourage guests to do the same) and cheers to their future.
Ex) Cheers to the newlyweds! I wish them a lifetime of happiness!
Some Do's and Don'ts
- Tell stories. Think about a personal story involving you and the groom or the bride (or both of them!) You should stick to the story that will reveal good qualities of the person that you are talking about. For example, maybe they went through some challenges that made him/her better or your friend’s encouragements really helped you with your own struggles.
- Keep it brief! You don't need a long speech, just a minute or two is perfect.
- Brag on them! What are the best qualities of the bride/groom? Is there a story you can tell that demonstrates that quality?
- Write your speech down. We would encourage you at least to write down main points, so you will have structured thoughts.
- Wait on the alcohol. Wedding days can be long, a little exhausting, and you might want to start celebrating with a few drinks. Help yourself out by holding off on the champagne just a minute more until after you give your toast.
- Make your speech all about the couple. It is great to have a personal story with a bride or a groom but try to connect it to their wedding. This is about them and their marriage!
- Give them advice. A quick, "Remember those vows every single morning," or "Cherish what makes you both so different and unique," can be a sweet encouragement. If you're married, what do you wish someone had told you at the beginning?
- Practice! Once you write down your speech, practice it in your bedroom or in your car. You might find some things you can adjust and you'll deliver your toast much more clearly if you've said it before.
- Avoid talking about break-ups, fights, exes and all sort of stuff like that. Try to keep it positive as possible!
- Don't share any stories that might be inappropriate to wedding guests who are listening. Guys, we're talking to you! You might think that one night you convinced the groom to jump off a bridge was hilarious, but her family might not think so. Only share stories that highlight the best qualities in the bride and groom.
What Does The Couple Do During The Toasts?
Remain seated, smile, and don’t touch your drink until the toast is over—even if the speaker didn’t read these tips and the champagne is calling your name!
Sometimes, the couple may choose to respond with their own speech after the toasts are over. This is very polite! When it comes time to toast as a couple, consider it more of a thank you—you’re not toasting yourselves. Graciously thank your wedding party, the hosts for helping you put on the wedding, and everyone for attending.
All this to say...
Like we said, we've heard a lot of toasts- some good and some not so good. The difference was never about whether the person was "a good public speaker." The difference came in the kindness, personal touch, and words of love. Listen to yourself! Nobody knows the words your best friend longs to here on their wedding day better than you. So trust your feelings and speak from your heart.