It’s a huge honor to be asked to speak at a wedding. It’s also a huge amount of pressure. What if you’re not funny? What if the best man is better than you? What if you panic when you step foot on the stage? Take a few deep breaths ladies… it’s a total breeze if you plan ahead. Whether you’re speaking at a wedding, rehearsal dinner or shower, these tips will help you create a stress-free, tasteful toast.
DO: Introduce yourself to the crowd first. Make eye contact and project your voice. It can take awhile to get everyone’s attention, so being confident is important (especially if you’re a nervous public speaker). Thanking the parents of the bride and groom for hosting such a special occasion is also a nice touch.
DO: Practice your speech prior to the big day. If you’re familiar with the material, you’ll be much more at ease when it’s game time. Just “winging it” with little to no prep time is a huge risk. A large serving spoon makes a great fake microphone.
DO: Share a few stories and anecdotes that reflect the relationship of the bride and groom. Whether your tone is sentimental or funny (or a combo of both) just speak from the heart and you can’t go wrong.
DON’T: Mortify your friend in front of everyone she knows by sharing embarrassing personal stories. Tales of tube top malfunctions or that epic Spring Break trip is best left for the bachelorette party. A sense of humor is great for keeping the crowd engaged; just don’t take it too far.
DON’T: Bring up old flames. “Although everyone thought she was destined to marry her high school boyfriend Chris since they were so in love… Rob, you’re very sweet and I think Katie cares about you just as much.” Need I say more?
DON’T: Go on… and on… and on… and on. While guests enjoy hearing kind words and cute stories about the happy couple, keep it short and sweet at five minutes or less. Remember, there are usually several toasts including yours, and people start to get antsy when they have to sit for too long.
DON’T: Get wasted before taking the stage. Having a drink before may calm pre-toast jitters, but being sloppy drunk and slurring your words is a bad way to kick off the night.
DON’T: Tell too many inside jokes that others won’t get. If you “had to be there,” leave it out.
DO: Conclude the speech with a thoughtful toast to the bride and groom. Raise your glass and ask the crowd to join you in wishing the new Mr. and Mrs. a lifetime of love, health and happiness. And then take a much deserved sip of bubbly and boogie down the rest of the night, knowing you’re a master at wedding speeches.
Jessica Solloway is a Washington, DC based writer and producer. From wedding planning to work, dating to dieting (and everything in between), she enjoys writing about women’s lifestyle topics. Jessica received her degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Check out her blog, The Savvy Mrs.