After weeks, months and sometimes years of preparation and wedding planning, your friend or loved one's wedding day is here. And a wedding just wouldn't be a wedding without a toast! If you've been asked to give a toast it's quite an honor (not just anyone gets to hold that microphone), but it can be a little nerve-wracking too. Whether you're the best man, maid of honor, father of the bride, or other honored wedding guest, here are a few tips on how to write and deliver the perfect wedding toast.
Procrastination is the First Step to Failure
The bride or groom holds you in high enough esteem to ask you to make a toast, and you need to approach this task with the same amount of seriousness. The last thing you want is to be writing your speech on a cocktail napkin five minutes before you're supposed to speak. Write your toast at least three weeks before the wedding reception to give yourself time to edit your work, have others give you their suggestions, and most importantly, memorize what you're going to say.
What Not to Say
First things first, what should you avoid saying in your toast? When writing your wedding reception toast it can be really tempting to bring up exes, embarrassing dating stories, or mention the fact that you never thought the bride or groom would settle down - but save that for the bachelor or bachelorette party. You may have been friends with the bride or groom since you were toddlers, but not everyone may appreciate the sense of humor the two of you share. Worse yet, the audience may laugh, but you could leave the happy couple feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable or even angry - big no-no!
Guests should never wonder if you are giving a toast or a roast. Don't tell inside jokes in order to make just a few wedding guests laugh, and don't say anything you wouldn't repeat to your mother-in-law or grandmother if she were the only one in the room. If you know something is a touchy subject between the bride or groom (or possibly the bride and groom's families) avoid these at all cost.
What to Say
Even if you think you've met every single person at the wedding reception (http://www.perfectweddingguide.com/wedding-reception/), start off by introducing yourself with a brief description of how long and in what capacity you've known the bride and groom. You want everyone to know why you were chosen for your role in thewedding reception and what gives you the authority to be toasting the couple. If you've been friends since grade school you might briefly explain how you met on monkey bars at the playground, but if you met in an unpleasant place or situation try to focus on your present friendship.
Next, you can share a funny story about the couple (remember to stick to humor that everyone will appreciate), what you thought when you found out they were engaged, or simply express how happy you are that they've tied the knot. Make sure you are toasting both the bride and groom. If you don't know one of them very well (which is often the case), mention how much you are looking forward to the second act of your friendship with the bride or groom, complete with their new spouse. If you know both of them well enough, throw in a few words about the perfect nature of their union. ("Their mutual love for Adam Sandler movies and Marcel Proust's late-19th century literature make them the perfect couple.")
Your speech doesn't need to be long or overly complicated (avoid using words you wouldn't use in your everyday life); whatever you say, say it simply and say it quickly. Two or three minutes are sufficient for a wedding reception toast, especially if a large number of people are planning to speak.
End on a High Note
Last but not least, use the authority that you established in the beginning of your speech to assure the new bride or groom that they have made the right choice in partnering with your friend, son or daughter. ("As Mike's mother I can say with certainty that Angela has chosen the handsomest, funniest, and kindest man to spend the rest of her life with.") You're basically giving their relationship two thumbs up.
Offer any advice you may have for a long, happy marriage and wish the couple a joyful future. Close your toast by thanking the couple for including you in one of the happiest days of their lives, congratulating them, and introducing the next person to speak (if you're the last person to give your wedding toast, hand off the microphone to the DJ).
What's My Line?
Practice, practice and more practice is the key to pulling off the perfect toast without sounding too rehearsed or letting your nerves get the best of you. Yourwedding reception toast to the bride and groom should be sincere yet spontaneous at the same time, so leave the index cards at home. If you absolutely know you are going to forget your speech, write down the main points of your toast on a 3x5 card so you can look down every once in a while for a reminder. As long as you remember the gist of what you wanted to say, no one will know if you flub up a line or two.
Remember, your friend, family member or loved one picked you to speak at their wedding reception
for a good reason - because they love and trust you! They don't expect your toast to be absolutely perfect. Just speak from your heart, and let the spirit of the occasion carry the rest of the wedding toast. Avoid drinking too much alcohol prior to speaking, follow these tips and be sincere, and you will be sure to deliver a fantastic wedding reception toast!