Wedding Toast Tips to Leave Them Speechless
You’ve just declared your love and devotion to each other in front of a crowd of your nearest and dearest, now it’s time to show them some love too. The bride and groom speeches are the ultimate PR opportunity, a perfect time to let your guests know how much you honour and cherish them for sharing your wedding day with you. So what are you going to say, and how are you going to say it?
Get an Opening Act
Letting your best man or maid of honour open up the floor is not a bad plan as it gives you a minute to compose yourself, and you won’t have to deal with waiting for everyone to get settled. Traditionally, the best man serves as the toastmaster and if the maid of honour chooses to speak, she comes next. After that, the two of you are on. Today many parents choose to toast after the bride and groom, especially if they’re hosting the party. Besides being a lovely gesture of giving something back to those who’ve supported you through countless joys and heartaches, the bride’s and groom’s toasts can also be a cool moment for you to take it all in, so long as you’re calm and collected.
Putting Pen to Paper
All eyes will be on you as the bride and groom, but you’ll still need to try to engage your audience. Perhaps start off with ‘something borrowed’ by using part of a song or poem, and this may get the marbles out of your mouth and loosen up your tongue while your guests are still settling down. If they missed it, it doesn’t matter as it wasn’t your words anyway. Familiar quotations are also a great resource to get started, or turn to slightly less conventional sources like popular songs.
The Do Not Say List
Don’t get carried away, while you should speak slowly and clearly, you shouldn’t do so for more than two or three minutes. Less is fine but more will be excessive, even if it is your day no one’s expecting a royal command performance. It’s nice to tell a quick, illustrative anecdote but launching into anything too lengthy makes you hard to follow. The story you choose should be general enough for every listener to understand. Leave out any inside jokes or slang, you’re thanking all your guests, so you need to include everyone. Whatever you do, don’t mention anything raunchy! Let the myth of the drunken best man speech lie, don’t embarrass anyone and no four letter words.
Another potential pitfall is drinking. It’s a bad idea to get drunk at your own wedding in the first place, but it’s a horrible idea to be drunk while giving your speech. It’s a speech, not a roast, so thank people sincerely. Though public speaking might make you nervous, telling people that you love them should come naturally.
Get Your Speech On
While your speech should feel spontaneous and genuine, you aren’t going to suddenly start plucking those Shakespeare and Churchill quotes out of thin air. It’s going to take some rehearsal to appear un-rehearsed. You’ll be in front of the friendliest audience possible, and they’ll want to listen to you. Anything that seems overly performed or words you don’t normally use will sound stiff, and might cause you to stumble. On top of that, when the mic gets passed to you, you can’t whip out a stack of prompt cards so you’ll need to remember what you’re going to say. Once you’ve sorted out your speech, recite it aloud and the first few times you do it you’ll find the spots where you stumble or skip words so either delete or rewrite them. As soon as the kinks are worked out, practice, practice, practice! If you’re worried that last minute butterflies will leave you with nothing to say, jot down a few key words or phrases on a small piece of paper to stash in your purse or pocket.
Holding a glass solves the ‘what to do with your hands’ problem right away. Worried you’ll fidget? Unless you’re behind a podium, there’s no reason you can’t walk around a bit, just don’t do sweeps of the room.
I’d Like to Thank…
When you make your stand, take the time to do a quick microphone check to make sure all your guests can hear their names. This is also no time for sloppy improvisation, make sure you thank everyone of note, as those forgotten can often have long memories!
Rather than getting into future arguments about who was and was not thanked, or sounding like you’re tearfully clutching an Oscar, keep the thank you’s broad. And end on a high note, so raise your voice and end with a punch. No one will know to raise their glasses if you just trail off lightly. Do take the time to look around the room and make eye contact with the key players.