By Rebecca Padgett
If you are the maid/man of honor or a best man/woman, you’ve likely experienced a bit of anxiety when thinking about delivering your toast.
Some people are natural born performers, but it’s still best to educate yourself on the ins and outs of toast-giving.
Who Gives Toasts?
The hosts typically begin the toasts.
Traditionally, the hosts — the bride’s parents — welcome the guests or give a blessing before the meal.
This could also be done by the groom’s parents. Once the guests are seated and eating, the groomsman/groomswoman makes a toast and then follows the maid or man of honor.
If the couple wishes, they can give a toast following the bridal party or when cutting the cake.
What Is the Toast?
A toast is an opportunity and an honor.
Being asked to be a best man or maid of honor is a privilege, and it’s your duty to take your speech seriously and make the most of the moment.
The speech is intended to honor and highlight the couple.
Even though you are giving the speech, it should be about them as a couple — not you.
How Long Should It Be?
The sweet spot is three minutes.
This is just enough time to captivate an audience without losing their interest. Anywhere between two-to-five minutes is safe though.
Any less than two minutes, does not allow you to accurately portray what you should say.
At the five minute mark, you’ve begun to lose your audience.
How to Give a Great Toast?
1. Practice Makes Perfect
It is best not to leave everything until the last minute.
Depending on your comfort level with both writing and public speaking, you can begin anywhere from three months to a week before.
Whatever time frame you choose, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to practice.
Practice reading your speech and time yourself.
Consider what you might need to cut, what words you stumble over and what doesn’t sound natural.
2. Know Your Audience
Remember that you are speaking to everyone at the wedding, including grandma.
Some topics are strictly off limits including exes, embarrassing moments, questionable decisions, explicit language and what happened at the bachelor/bachelorette party.
Consider, will it make anyone uncomfortable? If so, then don’t say it.
If you want to include humor, make sure it is something that will make the majority of people laugh. That also means no inside jokes.
3. Focus on Both
You need to address and talk about both your friend/family member and their spouse, even if you don’t know them well.
Tell a story about their meeting/engagement, your observations of the spouse or how your friend reacts to their partner.
If you know the partner well, feel free to expand on your thoughts, feelings and memories with them.
4. Follow this Format
Introduce yourself and explain how you know the bride or groom.
While some may know you well, others may have no idea who you are.
Keep it light, simple and even comical.
From there you can give some anecdotes and stories about the bride or groom.
These should be important and speak to the person’s character.
The stories and moments shared can be sentimental, funny and a mixture of both.
Next, talk about their spouse.
Again, share stories, moments and compliments.
From here, you can share why you think they work so well as partners. End with congratulations and a toast.
If you find it fitting to your audience and voice, you can sprinkle in quotations or religious verses.
5. Some Additional Tips
Stand up straight. This always helps you to exude confidence even if you don’t feel it.
Use notes. They are a safety net and guide.
The best option is to print two copies, in case you lose one.
Don’t depend on technology as it could fail, but it isn’t a bad idea to have the document saved on your phone just in case you lose your paper or index cards. Look up from your notes.
Select people in the audience that you’re comfortable looking at, whether that is the couple or strangers.
A little bit of liquid courage can help the speech go smoother, but don’t overdo it.