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Salute! // Tips for Giving a Great Toast

best man toasting the bride and groom at wedding reception

We’ve heard a lot of really terrific speeches at the weddings we’ve filmed over the past many years.  Some are so touching and others, simply hilarious.  And some of the funniest and most memorable toasts have even come from the people we least expected.  It’s a part of the wedding reception that we always look forward to because we never know what we’re going to get!

champagne glasses on wall display at wedding reception

If you’ve been given, or even volunteered for, the task of giving a toast at an upcoming wedding, we’ve got 10 basic tips to get you ready for the big speech:

  1. The most important tip of all is to take plenty of time to think about what you want to say, then write your thoughts down on paper.  But don’t write your speech out completely though.  If you refer to your notes at the event and it’s completely written out, you might make the mistake of reading it like a book.  It should be spoken from the heart and appear somewhat spontaneous.

  2. Remember to very simply announce who you are and how you are related to the couple at the start of your speech.

  3. Say only nice things about the bride and groom and their families.  This is a toast to the couple, not a roast.

  4. If you’re not ‘comedically inclined’, don’t try to be funny in your toast.  Instead, share some touching stories and pleasant memories.  If you try to be funny and it’s just not natural for you, it will probably fall flat.

  5. Be sure that your entire speech is appropriate.  Consider your audience when you’re preparing your toast, and be polite and respectful.  Never bring up ex-significant others or share stories that might embarrass the bride or groom or their family members.

  6. Don’t drink too much before your speech.  If you do, at the very minimum, your demeanor could be awkward. But most importantly, you might say something you’ll later regret.

  7. Don’t make your toast too long.  Two to three minutes is a great time frame to keep your audience both engaged and satisfied.

  8. Be sure to speak slowly and don’t rush through your speech.  Take pauses in between thoughts.  It might feel weird, but it will actually sound totally natural to your audience.

  9. Bring your written speech points to the wedding reception.  Index cards work great, but a folded piece of paper does the job, too.  Many people today are using their smart phones to hold their speech notes.  And remember, it’s best to bring detailed notes, not the entire speech written out.

  10. Finally, practice, practice, practice!  The best way to reduce those public speaking nerves is to be, and to feel, prepared.

matron of honor giving a toast at wedding reception
bride and groom listening to a toast given at their reception
best man giving a toast to bride and groom at wedding reception

A lot of thought is given to selecting the wedding party and in choosing the members of the party that will be asked to give the toasts.  You were placed in this role because the bride and groom know you can deliver and that you’ll make them proud.  So relax!  As long as you prepare, practice and remember to slow down, you’ll be a hit!

maid of honor giving a toast to the bride and groom at wedding reception

If you want some wonderful inspiration, we have the highlights from a ton of great speeches in our collection!  It’s so hard to pick our favorites, but a few that quickly come to mind include Danielle and David’s beautiful wedding in Nantucket.  And for this wedding, we were blessed to be there to hear wonderful toasts at both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception.  Danielle’s father really tugged at our heartstrings when he told everyone about Danielle’s baby shoes, then presented one he saved for her for this special day.

father of the bride giving a toast at the wedding reception

The toasts at Kelli and Greg’s fantastic wedding at the Down Town Club were absolutely perfect.  Kelli’s father, her matron of honor and Greg’s best man delivered speeches that were filled with both touching moments and really funny stories (we especially loved the “each having half a cat” story!).

matron of honor giving a toast at the wedding reception

And we also loved the heartfelt sentiments and words of advice given by Nicole’s father, her maids of honor and the best men at Nicole and James’s wedding reception.  Plus, you can hear a snippet from a beautiful speech given by James’s grandfather towards the beginning of the highlight from their gorgeous wedding at Clarks Landing Yacht Club.  After all of these toasts that evening, we really don’t think there was a dry eye in the house!


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