How to Write a (Non-Cringey) Wedding Toast

Having the chance to give a wedding toast can be exciting — it’s an opportunity to speak from the heart and impart wisdom on the happy couple. But, it can feel overwhelming to get up in front of a bunch of people (some of whom you’ve probably never met before) and talk about such big subjects as love and marriage. That’s why we’ve come up with a handy guide to help you write, or give, a wedding speech with confidence.

We all know when we’ve heard a good speech … just like we all know when we’ve heard a cringey speech. Public speaking doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating. In fact, giving a wedding speech is pretty much like giving any other type of speech. That means that if you have the right formula, you’ll be able to give a speech at any wedding, even if you don’t have one prepared.

We’ll start with the basic structure of a speech and some general tips on public speaking. Then, we’ll show you a few ways to organize your thoughts and give a speech that will make an impact without making anyone in the room cringe. Promise.

Speech-Writing 101: Structure

Every speech follows a general pattern that starts with an introduction, followed by the main message or idea you’re trying to communicate, and it closes with a key takeaway. Don’t think that applies to a wedding speech? Consider this example:

Introduction: Hi, everyone, I’m Daphne. I met [the bride] in college. In fact, I was with her the night she met [the groom]. It was clear from the moment they saw each other that they would never be able to spend enough time together. They were absolutely hooked on one another. Since that night, I’ve seen them grow as individuals and as a couple, and I have a few pieces of wisdom I’ve learned from watching them that I hope can serve as guidance for the many, many happy years ahead.

Main message: Piece of wisdom number one: find excitement in the little things. When [the bride] and [the groom] met, it didn’t matter how much time they’d spent apart. It could have been a few hours or a week — they always acted like it had been years in a way that made it clear how much they loved being around each other. But, they also gave each other the space to be themselves. Which brings me to my second piece of wisdom, which is to always appreciate each others’ individuality — and your own. Lastly, never forget your inner child. For their second anniversary, [the groom] gave [the bride] a locket with photos of each of them as a kid. She always said that it helped her stay compassionate whenever they got into an argument, thinking of him as that little boy. The way they talk about each other makes you sick, doesn’t it? (pause for laughter)

Takeaway: If you two can think about each other in that way for the rest of your marriage, you’ll be together forever. Just remember these three things: greet each other like a dog greets its owner, love without possession, and lead with compassion. I love you both, congratulations. Cheers!

Now, your speech doesn’t have to be as long as our example. You can always keep things short and sweet and still make an impact in a few sentences. We’ll give you more speech ideas at the end of this post — or you can jump right down to that section now!

5 Tips for Public Speaking

Once you have your speech written, or you’ve decided to stand up and give an impromptu speech (if open remarks are being given), you can rely on some helpful public speaking tips to get through it without a hitch.

1.   Breathe

Unless you have experience with public speaking, or you just don’t tend to get nervous about talking in front of others, there’s a good chance you’ll be a little nervous before your speech. Before you start speaking, take a few deep breaths to get the jitters out.

2.   Relax and smile

It’s easy to get caught up in making sure you’re saying the right thing and forget to smile. After you’ve taken a breath, relax your shoulders and smile. It’ll put you in a positive mindset and help you stay confident throughout your speech.

3.   Don’t be afraid to pause

Pauses can feel strange when we have the floor in a room full of people. Even the shortest pause can feel awkward to us. But, what you experience as “too long” of a pause is usually imperceptible to an audience, and can actually enhance the impact of what comes before or after it.

4.   Make eye contact

Even if you’re reading your speech from a piece of paper, it’s important to acknowledge your audience — especially the happy couple. Take a few moments throughout your speech to look up and make eye contact with the room. If that feels too awkward, you can always look right above people’s eyes, around their eyebrows.

5.   Avoid filler words

This will apply more to impromptu speeches, but it’s a good rule for all speeches. It also goes hand-in-hand with tip #3. If you’re not sure where to go next in your speech, rather than saying words like um or like or you know, don’t be afraid to pause to gather your thoughts. It’ll sound much more polished and make a stronger impact overall.

Another quick tip: if you think you may want to give a speech but aren’t sure whether it will be welcome, have a general idea of what you’d like to say in case there’s an opportunity. That way, you’ll be somewhat prepared regardless.

Wedding Speeches: General, No-Fail Formats

Depending on your comfort level with public speaking, whether you can bring a pre-written speech, and how you know the couple, there are a few directions you can go for your wedding speech.

Before you get started, make sure you always keep in mind that your speech should not be about you, beyond your relationship to the couple. They should be the main characters in your story.

For the storyteller

  • Introduce yourself, including how you met the couple, if you’d like
  • Tell a story that explains why the couple is suited to one another
  • Send them off with well wishes
  • Wrap up with a raise of your glass and a “Cheers to the happy couple!”

For the philosopher

  • Ask a question (ex: How do you know when you’ve seen real love?)
  • Answer the question with a quick anecdote that showcases the couple’s love
  • Invite the room to raise their glasses in a toast to the bride and groom

For the first-time speaker (who really wants to say something)

  • Introduce yourself (just your name is totally fine)
  • Pick a sentimental moment from the wedding ceremony and tell the couple how beautiful it was
  • End with a raise of your glass and a cheers to the couple

If you’re the Best Man or Maid/Matron of Honor we have more tips for crafting the perfect speech here:

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