How to Give a Good Wedding Speech
Toasts seem pretty easy on paper. You stand up, give a 3 minute speech, say “Cheers!”, and drink to the married couple. But interacting with a (sometimes large) crowd at the most important day of a couple’s union can be nerve racking. Not even the most eloquent of public speakers should underestimate how tough a wedding crowd is.
As a wedding planner, you won’t be expected to be giving any sort of toast to the couple, but the speech-givers might need some guidance. If you’ve ever been hired to coordinate the wedding reception on the day of, you’ve seen your fair share of good and bad toasts. Your unparalleled advice and expertise will be useful to those tasked with giving toasts at the wedding.
Introductions are underrated
You’d be surprised how many people forget this crucial step! Chances are, not everyone will know who the speaker is. Receptions are comprised of various people of different ages, interests, and maybe even cultures. If the toaster isn’t familiar with every single person at the party, they should definitely introduce themselves. Letting the audience know who they are and their relationship to the couple will make the attendees more receptive to the toaster.
You can never be too prepared
Life isn’t like in the movies when inspiration suddenly strikes and a beautiful, coherent speech is improvised without a hitch. Without any set guidelines, speakers often get nervous. They may stutter through the minutes awkwardly or ramble on and on aimlessly. There is no shame in keeping a couple of cue cards around to keep the speaker on track, and some rehearsal can only do good. Some public speaking experts recommend whispering the speech during practice to help figure out which words should be emphasized for impact.
Hit ‘em with humor
Everyone has a different sense of humor. Some like it intellectual and brain-bending, some like it dark and gritty. It can be hard to find common ground, so the toast probably isn’t the best time for a speaker to start their foray into stand-up comedy. Clever wordsmiths shouldn’t shy away from a good pun, but they should use simple, effective language to pique their audience’s attention. The toasters should usually expect a wide and varied crowd, complete with the toddlers and the seniors. So they should go for some PG rated humor unless they want some ticked off parents coming after them!
Tug on the heartstrings
The emotions are where the meat of the toast should be. Instead of employing a long list of adjectives with the help of a thesaurus, the toasters should give examples of the couple’s characters. Using a short but sweet anecdote that illustrates the great qualities of the bride, groom, or both will encourage others to think about their fond memories of the couple as well.
Some points worth dwelling on are how the bride and groom fit together as a whole, how they have grown together, and how happy they will be together. The speech doesn’t have to be a tear-jerker, but a little tugging on the heartstrings will make the speech memorable. Speakers should end on a high note and invite everyone to drink in celebration of the happy couple!
Topics to avoid!
Some well-meaning toasters often cross the line when it comes to bringing up old college stories and wild nights. It might be hilarious to a select group of friends, but what about the rest of the reception?
Some light teasing is expected, but the toasters should be sensitive to the other attendees and especially the couple. If they are to reminisce about the couple’s younger years, they shouldn’t delve into raunchy stories that grandma Helen would have preferred not knowing. Steering clear of mentions of wild college days and reckless (and maybe illegal) behavior is imperative. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
Some other topics to avoid include mentions of…
- How the fun times are done forever
- Failed relationships or previous marriages
- Any future plans of pregnancy or children that the couple may want to keep secret
Minutes on the clock
Toasts don’t have to be long to be meaningful. The golden rule of wedding toasts is quality over quantity. You want the speech to cover all the bases without making the speech last 30 minutes or feel like it. Around 3-5 minutes is expected, but no more than that—especially since there are usually more than 3 toasters at a reception. Keeping it short and simple will make the core message and themes of the speech clear, and leave everyone feeling good!
Wedding speech DON’Ts
There are as many, if not more, “don’ts” in giving the perfect wedding speech as there are “do’s”. Some of these seem obvious, but give them this list of wedding speech don’ts—just in case.
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