5 Wedding Toast Tips

Best man giving a toast

I gave a toast, my third, at a wedding last weekend. It seemed to go well!

This made me think of a friend who asked a couple of months ago whether I knew of any toast examples she could use as a guide to creating her own. I didn’t.  I’ve written on wedding toast guidelines before, which touches on good ways to approach a toast, but it isn’t super-specific about the actual contents of a toast.

So while I’m not going to write out my entire toast here, I will give you some ideas for coming up with your own toast.

  1. Don’t think big; think small. If you try to come up with some grand statement about love, you’ll probably just give yourself writer’s block. A friend once told me that he knew his friend liked a girl because right before she visited, his place — typically a pigsty — became spotless. That says a lot right there, and filled out, it’s the perfect anecdote for a toast because guests will recognize their friend or family member in it.
  2. When in doubt, begin at the beginning. Two of my toasts started around the beginning of the couples’ relationships. For my brother, I recounted learning about his now-wife Nicole and recognizing that she was different to him. It ended with my meeting her for the first time and understanding what made her special to him. My toast last weekend started with when the couple met because I had the interesting vantage point of having introduced them, and it ended with their first date.
  3. Your perspective counts. You can have a presence in your toast — it shouldn’t overshadow the couple you’re talking about — but when done well, it can be really interesting to see a couple through someone else’s eyes. There’s value in that.
  4. Tell three related anecdotes. They can be chronological. They can be thematic. They can be whatever. But two anecdotes aren’t enough to prove a point and four can feel like too many. At the end, tie all those anecdotes together to make your point. For example, for the toast I told last weekend, I described how the couple needed a little egging on their first three encounters, and I described those encounters with an emphasis on what was comical about them. Then I went on to say that once they had their first date, they didn’t need anyone’s help anymore. Cue the heartfelt portion of my speech, where I described the ways they were so in sync.
  5. Remember: The crowd is on your side. It’s normal to be nervous, but a group of wedding guests has to be one of the easiest crowds to please in the world. Unless you’re attending an especially fraught wedding, people tend to be soft-hearted at weddings and quick to laugh. I had a couple of lines in my speech last weekend that I didn’t think much of one way or the other, and they got hearty laughter from the crowd. And I got an audible “awww” on the line where I switched gears from funny to sweet, which I wasn’t expecting at all. Viewing the audience as friendly — and most of the time they will be — can make it easier to compose your speech.

Brides: If you’re wondering what glassware options you have for toasts, here’s some ideas from a rental company.

Photo by Jen Huang Photography

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