The wedding toast has been evoking tears and cringes in almost equal supply since the first couple said, “I do.” In order to keep yours in the heart touching with a few laughs thrown in the category, there are some things you should do. And a few that you should not.
Control Your Nerves
The greatest element for success in any type of pubic speaking, including giving wedding toasts, is being comfortable with what you are doing. If you are rushing through your speech, mumbling, shaking, giggling . . . whatever your nervous habit might be, people will tend to focus on that rather than your words. Find a way to soothe yourself whether it’s the ages old picturing everyone in their underwear or simply remembering that everyone there wants to see you succeed. Practicing your speech beforehand will help you speak naturally and comfortably.
If You’re Uncertain, Leave It Out
Many of the cringe-worthy moments in wedding toasts take place because the speaker mentions an ex or a story that may not be appropriate for all ages. At one wedding I attended, the maid of honor actually mentioned that she would stand by the bride when they got divorced. Follow the golden rule of “If you have to ask, the answer is no,” when it comes to the appropriateness of your toast material.
Show The Love
Get applause, tears, and the everlasting appreciation of the bride and groom by sharing an anecdote that demonstrates their love for each other or your love for them. Talk about how your relationship was with the bride or groom and how it’s evolved – in a good way – since the other one entered their life. People are prepared for sentimentality and tear-shedding, so give them a feel-good story that evokes those feelings.
This Is Not Your 15 Minutes Of Fame
You may have a lot to say about your best friend upon their marriage. That’s why you’re there. Nobody knows them better than you, but this is not your moment. Keep the toast brief and centered on the bride and groom for maximum effect that will reflect far more positively on you than a long, drawn out speech that is too focused on your feelings or the effect this marriage will have on your life.
Did We Mention Practice?
Not only will practicing help you to keep your nerves under control, but it will also eradicate the distracting “um,” “well,” and “you know” from your speech. You will be able to speak smoothly with good rhythm if you have your toast memorized and well-practiced. If necessary, you can even ask a few friends to listen, or you may choose to record yourself so that you can watch. This will enable you to catch any body language or nervous habits that you want to get rid of before you are standing before a crowd.
It Is Also Not A Comedy Act
While a few funny anecdotes or one-liners can warm up the crowd and keep your toast from becoming overwhelmingly sappy, it is not meant to be a comedy show. Again, this can take the focus off of the bride and groom and appear that you are more concerned about gaining attention for yourself. Going too heavy into comedy can also make your toast too long. A few minutes should be all you need.
Say “Thank You”
For being your best friend, for taking care of your best friend, for inviting you to play a part in their special day. Don’t take it for granted that you are there speaking out of the hundreds of people in attendance.