By Brad Montgomery
Toasts have long been the centerfold of any wedding reception. Aside from the outfits, decor, and food, what’s said by the couple’s friends and family is often most talked about by guests, and certainly most remembered by the newlyweds years later. It is any best man’s duty not only to acknowledge various important people at the ceremony but also share insightful and often entertaining words about the bride and groom. Here are tips on how to give a wedding toast.
Think before you speak
Whether you plan to ‘wing it’ or read it, you should always give your toast a minimum amount of thought beforehand. Consider your relationship with the groom (and/or bride, as it may be), and try to identify one or two shared experiences that could liven up your toast. Humor is always a plus when speaking before a large audience, but keep in mind the spirit of the day and the fact that you are speaking to honor, not embarrass (at least too severely) the newlyweds. Poking fun at the couple is perfectly acceptable if it contributes to your message, but never stray within sight of that line between fun and insult.
First off the block
Traditionally, the best man gets the honor of toasting first. Usually the wedding planner will coordinate with you (and, if applicable, the MC) at what point during the reception you should begin the toasts and the order of the speakers. Technically, your toast is to the bride only because a formal toasting sequence would allow you a best man’s response later on to thank the groom and acknowledge the bridesmaids. However, fewer weddings these days follow such a rigid protocol. Rather, you’re opening (and, usually, only) toast would include your toast to the bride (and groom), acknowledgments of family and guests, and personal remarks. Sometimes the best man’s toast is saved for last, though, or next to last before the father of the bride. Always be sure to discuss with the groom and wedding planner before hand so you know exactly when to speak.
Honor the important people
As the best man, you are responsible for honoring various guests (depending on who else is toasting). If you are the only toast besides the father of the bride, you pretty much get to acknowledge everyone on the following list. If other’s are speaking, however, you may exclude some of these guests if they are already (or will be–talk to the other toasters beforehand if possible) recognized. Anyone in bold print should be mentioned in your speech regardless of who else is speaking:
* Bride and Groom * Parents of the Bride (especially if they are forking over the dough!) * Parents of the Groom (not as important as bride’s parents, but these days the groom’s family also contributes significantly to funding the ceremony and reception, plus there is a good chance that you know them well if you are the groom’s best friend, so be sure not to leave them out!) * Maid of Honor (more and more often she gives her own toast, but it’s still nice to mention her) * Groomsmen and Bridesmaids * other important guests (family, close friends, travelers from far away, and anyone else that might be giving a toast)
Group your acknowledgments together, ideally at the start of your toast so that you can focus the meat of your speech on the bride and groom. There are a lot of people contributing to the event, but it is first and foremost their day to be talked about.
Be nice and concise
Your toast should NEVER exceed five minutes, and that can be a bit on the long end. Say enough to effectively convey your love and appreciation for the newlyweds, but spare them and the rest of the guests of longwinded stories from your fraternity days. Quotes or anecdotes can be effective is used properly, so make sure whatever you say, be it original or borrowed, actually has something to do with the people to whom you are toasting. Try to avoid choosing a quote you like and forging some obscure tie between the words and the newlyweds. The more personal your words, typically the better your speech will be. Be sincere, speak slowly, and address everyone in the room. Don’t forget to mention how honored you are to be the best man, how happy you are for the couple, and how much happiness and good fortune you wish them in the future. At the conclusion of your speech, make your brief toast (i.e. “Will everyone please join me now to toast the bride and groom…”), raise your glass directly to the bride and groom, and share a drink with the rest of the guests.
Never get over worried about giving the wedding toast. The groom chose you as his best man because you are just that, the best man for the job in his opinion. He’s not expecting anything profound or eloquent, just your honest expression of friendship and love. Be confident that you can convey that through words, and always remember that the toast is before friends and loved ones, not a panel of public speaking critics. Smile, and enjoy your part in the newlyweds’ celebration.
Here are two videos of decent best man speeches.
Here is a good Maid of Honor Toast Sample:
Or, if you’d like WAY more details, buy this audio for your computer or iPod and learn
How to Create a Funny Speech Without Looking Like an Idiot.
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By Brad Montgomery, CSP Hilarious Motivational Speaker and Business Keynote Humorist. Using his own blend of Hilarious Humor, as well as his Award-Winning magic, Brad teaches, motivates and entertains. Great for opening or closing the convention, or even for the after-dinner entertainment. Believing that, “Life is Fun & Funny. And Filled with Magic,” Brad motivates his audiences using magic and humor to illustrate universal secrets for success. Keynotes, Breakouts, and Entertainment.