Guest Guide

Giving a Wedding Toast? Here’s How to Prep

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So, you’ve been asked to give a wedding toast. Congrats! This means the bride and groom value your friendship and want you to help them celebrate their union with a short message for their guests. If you’re not normally the type of person who gives speeches to large crowds, the whole idea can be a little daunting. Here are some tips on preparing to give a wedding toast.

Wedding Toasts: A Part of Tradition

Wedding toasts are typically given by those close to the couple to honor their union, but many contemporary couples are straying from tradition. Some couples now have their entire wedding party give toasts as a group, or they have an open toast, where any of the attendees can offer some words during the allotted time.

However, tradition dictates that the best man and maid/matron of honor give their toasts prior to the parents or other family members. If the one (or both) of the couples' family is hosting the wedding, they will traditionally go last. Sometimes, the couple will give a toast to thank everyone for coming, encourage guests to enjoy the food and alcohol, and ask attendees to sign the guestbook.

Wedding toasts most often occur during the reception. Typically, toasts will happen during dinner, especially if the dinner is a buffet. By the time the last table gets up for their food, the first few tables have either finished eating or are almost done. Having toasts during that time ensures the wedding guests are never bored. Plus, it gives the couple a chance to sit down during their hectic day.

If the couple hired a coordinator, the coordinator will typically let the toasters know to get ready. The DJ, if the couple has one, will make sure they know how to pronounce everyone’s name and should have a mic ready to go.

A bride and groom holding champagne glasses
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Writing the Toast

The most difficult part of the wedding toast is the writing, not the giving. If your wedding toast isn’t prepared beforehand, you run the risk of having a 15-minute toast. No one wants to sit and listen for that long, especially if there are many people giving toasts. Dinner should last no longer than an hour, so the toasts have to fit into that timeframe as well. Here are some tips on writing your wedding toast.

1. Make Sure It’s On Paper

Even in today’s digital age, you should aspire to have your wedding toast printed on paper. This doesn’t mean that you have to handwrite it, but at least print it out on standard printer paper and bring it with you to the wedding. Store it with your other belongings, and, if possible, give it to the coordinator to hold until it’s your time to give your toast. That way, you won’t lose it or have to excuse yourself to go get it.

2. Avoid Crude Jokes

Regardless of the type of crowd, you should refrain from any derogatory jokes or lewd comments. Even if the couple enjoy their fair share of toilet humor, try to find some family-friendly jokes to tell. Avoid curse words, as well. You never know if children will be in attendance, and some of the guests might not like those types of comments.

3. Include Some Background Information

Introduce yourself to the guests. You might not know everyone there, so include how you know the newlyweds as well as how long you’ve known them.

A person holding up a champagne flute giving a toast
Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

4. Add A Funny Story

Share a brief story about the couple, such as a funny moment during a group outing or celebration. Try and keep it lighthearted and positive. If the couple has persevered through a difficult time, you might consider mentioning that, but don’t forget to praise their dedication to each other and end the anecdote positively.

5. The ‘Moment’

Mention how you realized the couple were meant for each other. It can be a summary of a conversation between you and the person you’re closest to or an observation of their behavior with each other.

6. Wrap Up Positively

End the toast with a blessing for the couple’s union and ask everyone to join you in toasting them. You could also thank the hosts and the wedding staff for putting on the event that day. 

7. Practice Makes Perfect

Practice your speech a few times prior to the wedding. Make sure you keep it brief but have enough time to include some stories and make it meaningful. Five minutes is a good goal time for toast length. Have a friend help you edit and revise your toast. You can even practice in front of them to make sure your delivery lands nicely.

8. Consider Some Well-Known Quotes

Add some well-known quotes or lines from popular books or movies to tie your speech together. This will help especially if you don’t know too many of the guests because they’ll connect with the words you say, even if they don’t know you.

9. Smile!

Give your toast with a smile on your face. Sure, a wedding is a serious time of celebration, but it’s a celebration! You want the guests to know that you’re excited for the happy couple.

Other Toasting Tips

Even though you’ve got a job to do at the wedding, you’re still a guest. Make sure you exercise proper guest etiquette and bring the couple a unique personalized wedding gift. You want to do this, especially as a thank-you to them for asking you to give a toast.

In fact, you’ll also want to consider giving the parents of the couple a gift, too—especially if they are hosting the wedding. Hosting is code for paying, so make sure the parents of the couple receive recognition for hosting the event. Beyond mentioning them in your toast, also include a brief token of appreciation. A fun personalized photo gift, maybe with a picture of the couple, is a great way to say thank you.

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