Alongside the bride down the aisle, the cute kids dancing at the reception, wedding toasts are among the most memorable moments of the special day — for better or for worse. The toast can be sentimental or funny, as long as the words come from the heart. If you’ve been asked to deliver a message at your loved one’s wedding, shake off those jitters and follow these seven steps for an unforgettable wedding toast.
1. Introduce Yourself — and Be Nice
Unless you’re attending a wedding that is incredibly intimate (or maybe on Zoom!) where everyone knows everyone, there will likely be a few attendees who don’t recognize you.
Keep it simple: State your name, your role in the wedding (such as Maid of Honor), or your relationship (Father of the Bride), and perhaps a light anecdote. Maybe something about how the groom was your college roommate or you’ve known the bride since grade school ballet class.
Avoid any temptation to make a mean-spirited joke joke. Nothing about how you never thought the groom would get married and definitely no ball-and-chain jokes. The happy couple invited you to share their joy, not host a roast.
2. Thank the Bride and Groom (or Grooms, or Brides, As the Case May Be)
Again, simple is better. You can thank the couple directly for choosing you for this role, or you cansay something more sentimental, like “I am so grateful to be a part of your special day.”
You can also call back to an element of the wedding or the preparation. Maybe point out the hard work the bride put into the handmade centerpieces, or acknowledge the rain that’s not spoiling a good party.
3. Establish a Theme for Your Toast
For the rest of your toast, it’s helpful to pick a theme that relates to the couple and to the wedding. Itcould be love, commitment, positivity, overcoming obstacles, or any other joy-filled message you want
You can easily transition into this theme while you are thanking the bride and groom by comparing how they have changed your views on love.
You could say something to the effect of, “I want to thank the bride and groom for inviting me to be a part of their special day, and I also want to thank them for teaching me so much about unconditional love. Since seeing their love in action every day, I’ve learned unconditional love can be found every day in the way we treat our favorite people.”
4. Share Happy Memories
Now that you have established your theme, you should share a few sweet memories you have that demonstrate this sentiment.
You will likely have more memories of yourself with just the bride or just the groom. It’s okay to focus on memories of you with this person, but make sure to include at least one memory where you were with the couple. It might even be a memory where you were observing the couple and found yourself learning or feeling something. Personal memories and anecdotes are always better than trite phrases or quotes you pulled off Pinterest.
Just as with the introduction, stay positive and uplifting here. You don’t want to share a memory that paints the groom in an embarrassing situation, or accidentally share a story that actually includes an ex-girlfriend. It might even be OK to run these memories by the bride or groom. The full toast can be a surprise, but make sure everything you’re sharing is open for the public.
5. Tie Everything Together
As you’re coming to the end of your toast, you should tell the audience why this theme is important to you. If you now believe in unconditional love, how has that changed you as a person? Are you more hopeful? Are you looking forward to the future in a way you never did before? Have you vowed to never give up?
After sharing several memories as examples, you might say, “After knowing this couple, I know now that unconditional love can change the world.” It’s OK to be a little cheesy here — it’s a wedding!
6. Congratulate the Duo
Though you’ve spoken about yourself, what you’ve learned, and what you remember about the couple, remember the point of this speech is to celebrate their big day. Congratulate them on coming together and planning this beautiful day, and assure them again of your excitement at the day they created, and all the beautiful days they have ahead of them.
7. Don’t Forget the Toast
After you congratulate the pair, remember to raise a glass and give a toast. Keep it simple, and relate it in some way to your theme.
You might say, “Here’s to the happy couple, and always believing in the power of love.”
Each of these seven steps are simple, but they create the ideal wedding toast when combined. Remember to keep your toast under five minutes long, and be yourself when you’re in front of all those people!
Public speaking tip: Practice in the mirror ahead of time. You don’t want the first time you’re saying these words to be at the wedding with a mic in your hand. Go through it a few times the week before and you’ll feel much more confident. It’s also OK to use notecards, but try not to read directly from them. You’ll sound too formal, and this is a message best delivered from the heart.
Featured photo credit: wilpunt/ iStock