Toasting: A Guide for the Bride & Groom

by The Knot

You’ve spent months planning, dreaming, arguing and waiting. So why would you waste this enormous opportunity to address those guests who have gathered to celebrate your union? They’re not there for the best man  and he’s up on his feet with a clever speech. It’s time for both bride and groom to speak up, to raise a glass to their guests and to share a few words from the heart on this special day.

Why Should I Make a Toast?

Well, why not? You are, after all, the entire reason all these people have come to this celebration. The couple making a toast gives the guests a sense of appreciation for the occasion. Chances are it will be a long time before your friends, distant relatives, in-laws and cousins will be together again so seize the moment. You are more likely to feel sorry for not speaking than for saying a few simple words of welcome and gratitude.

Aw, Do I Have To?

No bride or groom with severe social anxiety should be forced to make a toast. If the very thought of raising your glass and saying a few words makes you feel ill, skip it. No one likes to see a person making a toast squirm. The only one really expected to make a speech is the best man, and even he can be replaced by a maid of honour if he is truly uncomfortable.

But My Knees Will Be Knocking

Everyone is at least a little nervous before they speak to a group, but this can actually be a good thing if you use that energy to create some momentum and excitement for yourself. Sounds silly, but breathing deeply is very calming. Remember that the guests are there because they love you, so your preaching to the converted. Basically they’re going to adore anything you say to them. Which brings us to the next point…

How Do I Break the Ice?

You’ll probably want to start off by making your guests laugh to engage them. No need to give away your best joke in the beginning, so start with something light and amusing. Some people are not great joke tellers, but you don’t have to be Dame Edna Everage to be funny. Tell a story about your new spouse that always makes you grin, but nothing embarrassing. Or describe the first time your parents met your fiance, if it was funny. The things that will make people smile are those that are personal but never mean spirited.

What Should I Say?

Whatever you say, say it simply and quickly. Two or three minutes are sufficient for this toast, especially if both the bride and groom are planning to speak. Be sure to thank your parents and your in-laws. Next, thank all your guests for coming. Finally, toast your new wife or husband. Don’t tell long stories about your childhood or growing up or whatever. Don’t thank a long list of people, you haven’t won an Academy Award here. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t repeat to your mother in law or grandmother if she were in the room. This is not the time for anything even slightly raunchy. Don’t tell inside jokes in order to make your old uni mates laugh, if everyone won’t get the joke, don’t tell it.

I Think I Need a Drink

Yes, several of those chocolate martinis may make it easier for you to gather the courage to get up there and do your part. But keep in mind that drinking may also make you difficult to understand, boring or worst of all, inappropriate. There are lots of reasons why you should not get drunk on your wedding day. The chance of making an embarrassing toast is just one of them.

Where’s My Auto Cue?

While index cards may have worked nicely in your high school class presentations, at your own wedding this technique lacks that warm and personal touch. Your toast should feel spontaneous and sincere, which is not what comes across when you whip out that stack of prompt cards. The key is to practice but appear un-rehearsed. In fact, you may have to practice at appearing unrehearsed. One way to accomplish this is not to write anything down, except perhaps for a list of single words or names so that you don’t forget anyone. Remember the general gist of what you want to say, who you want to thank and the few little anecdotes you intend to sprinkle in. Then at the right moment, let the spirit of the celebration inspire you.

When Do I Take the Stage?

Your moment can come after the traditional speeches from the best man and bride’s father before or during the meal. But you can also consider speaking just before the cake cutting ceremony. This is one time you’ll have everyone’s attention.

Finally, don’t forget to clue the photographer into the big moment. You’ll want a photo of the bride raising her glass to her groom, with the wedding cake in the background.

— Lisa Carse

Photo credit: Kelly Brown Weddings

by The Knot


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