Wedding toasts can run the gamut from totally hilarious and entertaining to whompsville yawn-inducing real quickly. An absolute recipe for disaster is the unplanned, unrehearsed, unannounced, slightly inebriated speech. But, don't worry; there are plenty of awesome speeches out there too. If you're writing a toast and you're worried about how to whittle everything you want to say down into a three to five minute spiel, be sure to spend time mapping it out and editing so your speech ends up in the good pile and not labeled as bad, ugly, or redundant. Here, the four types you'll hear at every reception.
What NOT to Do While Giving a Wedding Toast
The best wedding speeches are usually the ones that tell a story, or even a couple of very short stories, illustrating something about the couple (how they met, when the speaker knew they were perfect for each other, etc.). The key to an incredible wedding speech is keeping it short, while maintaining a genuine, light, heartfelt tone that celebrates the dynamic duo and welcomes them into their new life as a married couple.
Generally speaking, these speeches touch on a little about each partner, a little about them as a couple, and a little about how their love influences the people around them. The most successful speeches take listeners through various emotions, ending with people shedding tears of joy, laughter, or a bit of both.
Oh boy. There are so many bad wedding speeches out there. The worst of the worst are the narcissistic speeches that somehow manage to make it all about the speaker, leaving out the whole point of celebrating the union of the couple. Add a whole slew of inside jokes and you've just witnessed half the audience excuse themselves for a restroom break.
It usually follows a pattern that goes something like this: "I went to kindergarten with Katie and she's picked out every boy I've ever dated and I can't believe my misfortune that Jake doesn't have a brother. I can't wait for these two to have kids so I can play with them because they're going to be so gosh-darn cute and fun to dress up. And by the way, I really hope that one day I can find a love like this…" Yes, these speeches really do happen, and yes, they really are painful to listen to.
Ugly wedding speeches are kind of a guilty pleasure to witness. There are a few versions of this, but the ugly speech typically includes some joke fails, clichés, slurred or mumbled speech, and a one-liner you hear at every wedding.
Ugly speeches almost always include the "I had no idea how to write this speech, so naturally I Googled it," opener. Nope, you're not the first person to come up with that opening line, though it is actually funny if delivered by a Google employee to a room full of techies. Another classic you'll hear in the wedding speech rotation goes something along the lines of, "are these two the next power couple or what? Am I right or am I right?" Insert any cliché celebrity couple comparison here and you have yourself an irritating speech right off the bat.
Largely a result of having a few too many glasses of champagne, being a bundle of nerves, and not editing or practicing, the rambling speech is a total buzz kill. Often repetitive, slow to make a point, and largely unstructured, this is the kind of speech you're likely to hear from a family member who's just winging it. A clue to the speaker: wrap it up if you're seeing yawns and people fidgeting throughout the room.
Edit, edit, edit! The only way to win at giving a speech is to keep it short and sweet and make it about the couple. Use your own voice when writing the speech and let your personality shine. If you're not a naturally funny person, go with a heartfelt tone. If you aren't a great storyteller, have a friend help you write the speech in a way that seems conversational.
A great speech is anecdotal and gives some kind of takeaway for guests to think about. People love a good quote from a book, movie, song, or poem; and pop culture references are always a hit on the humorous side. Be genuine and be you—that's the whole reason the couple invited you to give a toast!