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How to Make the Perfect Wedding Toast

Do you know how to make a proper toast? The Public Speaker has some tips on hitting the right note

By
Lisa B. Marshall,
July 16, 2010
Episode #017
Listener Raquel wrote:

"I’m going to be maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding and will be making a toast. I hate public speaking, but my friend and I have known each other since we were 5  years old. What goes into a wedding toast, especially if I do not know her soon-to-be-husband that well and do not want to embarrass anyone?"

What Should You Say in a Toast?

Well, first, a toast is meant to honor the person, not embarrass them. It‘s also not your chance to let a bunch of people know what a riot you are. Toasts should be polite, personal, simple, and sincere.

We’re talking about a wedding toast not a wedding roast. Keep in mind that the main purpose of your maid of honor speech is to share why the bride is so special to you in your own unique way. I do understand that finding the right words can be difficult, especially when you’re stressed out by all of your other wedding obligations. And if you aren’t comfortable with public speaking that can just make it worse. But, we’re here to help!

How to Start Writing a Wedding Toast

The first step, before you even begin to write the toast, is to brainstorm a few ideas so that you have some material to choose from. Don’t worry if you don’t know the groom very well. Just write down how the bride looks when she’s talking about him or write down memories of when the bride first mentioned the groom to you. Of course you’ll also want to record a few positive qualities that you admire in the bride or qualities you value in your friendship. Be sure to think about short stories that are examples of those positive traits. Finally, write down any shared memories you have from childhood that are heartfelt or funny.

Though the memories should be funny they shouldn't be embarrassing. This is not the time to bring up past relationships or the time she got drunk and lost her lunch in your backseat. That is a sure-fire way to lose a friend and sour a nice moment.

The most important thing is to keep the toast polite, personal, simple, and sincere.

Once you have a few ideas to choose from, you are going to select your best material to develop the toast. Always start by introducing yourself and telling everyone how you met the bride. Then transition to your story from childhood, if you don’t have one, you can move directly to two or three traits that you admire. Be sure to include a brief story that is an example of each trait. Finally wrap it up with a wish or blessing for the couple. Oh, and you’ll probably want to practice it a few times before the big day.

Should You Use Notes During a Wedding Toast?

Of course, practicing is always a good idea, but if you are afraid you might forget what to say, it’s okay to bring some small note cards with you. And remember, even if you are still feeling a little jittery, it’s very important to be sober when you deliver your toast.

Before you deliver your toast, be sure that everyone has already had his glass filled. Don’t tap your glass to get attention, simply raise your glass and state that it is time for a toast. Once you begin your toast, you can bring your glass back down again. 

How to Deliver a Wedding Toast

At this point, even if you’re nervous, it’s important to look and act confident. Maintain good posture, use a strong voice. When you start, look directly into the eyes of the bride. Of course, you’ll need to give everyone some eye contact, especially when you are telling them who are, but be sure to look back to the bride and groom when you tell your stories. Most of the toast should be delivered to the eyes of the bride and groom, but some eye contact can be shared with everyone.

Be Polite, Personal, Simple, and Sincere

You’ll want to keep the toast short, three or four minutes only, especially if others are toasting as well. If you speak for more than a few minutes, the toast becomes about you, and that is not what we want. Again, the key is to remain polite, personal, simple and sincere. You might also consider keeping tissues nearby because it is likely the bride or you will be moved to tears, especially if you’ve done a good job of telling a heartfelt story.

Just be who you are. Share your natural personality – if you are a naturally funny person then go ahead and include lots of humor, but if you are a more serious person, keep it genuine. If you deliver a sincere toast from your heart it will be a big success.

How to End a Wedding Toast

When you are finished with the toast, don’t forget to raise your glass again and nod first towards the audience and then towards the bride and groom. It is not always appropriate to clink glasses. In a large group with vast amounts of space or table between the guests, it’s completely appropriate to raise your glass and make eye contact with those around you. Reaching across, you could lose your balance, land in someone’s lap, and six months later we’ve got another wedding to prepare a toast for!

Once those being toasted have been acknowledged, take a sip of your drink. Lastly, the bride and groom are not expected to drink. It would be the equivalent of applauding for yourself.

So there you have it. The most important thing is to keep the toast polite, personal, simple, and sincere. Again, this is not the time to embarrass the bride, but to honor her. Share funny and heartfelt stories that show how the bride feels about the groom and illustrate the qualities you value in the bride and in your friendship. Most importantly be yourself. Speak naturally and confidently, after all, she chose you to be her maid of honor.

Administrative

If you have a question, send e-mail to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops visit lisabmarshall.com.

 

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