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This important task can leave even the most outgoing among us at a loss for words. Home in on what to say with these tips for delivering a pitch-perfect wedding toast the bride and groom will always remember.
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Mark Your Calendar
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither should your speech be written in one. Crafting a heartfelt toast is just that—a craft. Scrawling a few notes on a cocktail napkin the night before just won’t cut it. Begin thinking about what you want to say in the weeks leading up to the wedding so you’ll have plenty of time to practice and get feedback from friends.
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When in Doubt, Follow a Formula
While the speech itself can cover a lot of ground, a general blueprint for hitting the most crowd-pleasing notes goes something like this:
1) Introduce yourself and share your connection to the bride.
2) Relay an anecdote that shows how awesome/smart/thoughtful she is.
3) Make mention of the groom, and how he completes his new bride.
4) Wish the newlyweds a lifetime of happiness.
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When you’re brainstorming talking points, keep in mind that a few should be off-limits—namely, the bride’s laundry list of horrible exes. Even if it’s your attempt at humor, bringing up past flames can come off as distasteful. (If you’re on the fence about whether a line is appropriate, turn the tables and imagine that the story stars you and is being told about you in front of your parents and dear old Grandma. If you’re cringing, your best friend probably will, too.) And while inside jokes have their place, that place is better suited to the bachelorette party—don’t alienate your audience by making a joke that only two people in the room will get.
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Write It Down
We’re not talking a word-by-scripted-word approach here. But do come up with a list of bullet points or an outline that you can glance down at if you get stuck. This will help you stay on topic and prevent you from having to rely on your wits alone. Consider this a friendly warning: Ad-libbing your way through a speech is a (very awkward) disaster waiting to happen.
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Time It Right
No matter how charming you are, no one wants to listen to someone drone on and on—which is how it might seem if your toast exceeds the 90-second mark. Try to keep your speech right around one minute. And while you’re at it, remember to slow it down; people have a way of speed-talking when they’re nervous. If you think it’ll help, write “breathe” on your cheat sheet in between talking points.
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The bride may be your lifelong best friend or sister, but you and everyone else are there to celebrate a couple, not just one person. After talking about how great she is, give the groom a few seconds of lip service, too, even if you don’t know him that well.
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Wrap It Up
This is the point where reciting a quote or song lyric can work to your advantage. But whatever you do, end on a high note: Raise your glass, and give your blessings to the newlyweds by wishing them a lifetime of happiness.