The wedding toasts are often one of the most entertaining and moving parts of the day, but without proper preparation (or fueled by a bit too much alcohol) they can be a total disaster. Determining who exactly will share a toast at your wedding reception is entirely up to you, (and the toasters, of course). Traditionally, the best man kicks off the toasts. If the maid of honor plans to share, she follows him up. After that, it’s time for the bride and groom to say a few words, followed by the bride or groom’s parents if they so choose. If you have another bridal attendant, family member, or friend that you’d like to hear from, you can schedule them in at any point.
There’s no exact formula for a great wedding toast, but here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you avoid a wedding day disaster…
DO be funny/DON’T be inappropriate: Humor is one of the best ways to win over the crowd and keep them engaged during your toast. Feel free to include a joke or tell a funny story about the happy couple, but keep it PG. Remember that you’re speaking to a diverse crowd of individuals, including people of all ages, beliefs, and tolerance levels. Avoid off-color jokes or overly personal (read: embarrassing) stories about the bride and groom.
DO make notes/DON’T read them verbatim: Planning ahead is a great way to guarantee success. Spend a few weeks thinking about what you’d like to say about the bride and groom or to the guests. Jotting down a few notes will help keep you on track, especially if you’re feeling nervous about speaking to a group, but make sure you only write down a few bullet points to keep you focused, rather than scripting your entire speech. No one wants to see you read, emotionless, from a sheet of paper. Prepare what you’d like to say ahead of time but leave room for improvisation.
DO be relaxed/DON’T be fall-down drunk: If you’re feeling overly anxious about sharing in front of hundreds of wedding guests, have a drink to calm your nerves. But remember: it’s never appropriate for you to take the mic while you’re fully intoxicated. No one wants to hear an overly emotional, abrasive, or nonsensical rambling in lieu of a speech. This is an important opportunity to support, encourage, and love the bride and groom; don’t ruin it by being irresponsible.
DO be thorough/DON’T talk forever: There are a few key things that should be included in all wedding toasts, regardless of who you are: introduce yourself, acknowledge/thank the hosts, share a personal anecdote about the happy couple, and actually toast the bride and groom with well wishes. What you share in between is up to you. This is your chance to express your love and admiration for the bride and/or groom, to thank them for being such a great friend, to celebrate their relationship, and to wish them well. It isn’t, however, an opportunity to give a detailed play-by-play of everything that’s ever happened in your life. Get to the point, plan ahead to be funny and poignant, and be brief.