Most of us consider public speaking one of the most stressful things we can do. Even at a wedding, with good friends and dear family in the audience, it can still be nerve wracking.
With some thought and planning, it can be easier for everyone. The toasts at your wedding can be fun, touching, and a wonderful memory for you and your guests.
There is tradition to who toasts at a wedding and many people follow it. At the least, a parent of the bride and the best man may be asked to make a short speech. Sometimes a parent of the groom and the maid of honour speak as well. You may decide to speak yourself or invite others.
In any case, invite your speakers personally. Let them know how happy you are to have them speak. Share your ideas about the atmosphere you would like to have at the reception, whether it is casual or formal. If anyone is daunted by the task, you can help by sharing a few ideas for content and tips to make it easier. We have assembled some time-honoured guidelines you and your speakers may find helpful.
To keep the toasting orderly, advise your master of ceremonies, if there is to be one. If there is no MC, each person making a toast can respond to the previous toast and close with introducing the next speaker. The parent of the bride should go first and should be advised when to begin.
Discuss the timing with caterers so the glasses are filled just prior. Ask an attendant to visually check to see that this is done.
Toasts may be offered just prior to the meal, between courses, or immediately after the meal. If toasts are made after the meal, the best man or the last person making a toast could invite the bride and groom to cut their wedding cake.
Glasses, of course, play a big role in the toast. If you can, it is lovely to have crystal for every guest at the reception. There is nothing like the long, clear ring that will fill the room. Even just having crystal for the head table or the bride and groom will add a special note to the toast. Remember to chime glasses together at the widest part of the bowl to avoid chipping the rims. Happily, this is also the way to make the best musical sound.
The Parent of the Bride
Usually this is the first toast made.
Welcome the groom and his family into the bride’s family.
Welcome guests next, with mention of any who have come particularly far for the celebration.
Talk a little of the bride as a child, with an amusing anecdote from her childhood.
Offer some light-hearted advice on married life to the bride and groom.
Thank those who have helped make the day a great success: the caterers, the minister or officiate, the master of ceremonies, etc.
Offer best wishes and a toast to the bride and groom, inviting everyone to raise their glass.
The groom’s toast is by way of response to the bride’s parent’s toast.
Thank the bride’s parents for the good wishes on behalf of him and the bride, and thank the bride’s family for the welcome. Congratulate them for raising such a wonderful daughter.
Thank his parents for their participation in the wedding, and thank the guests for attending and for their gifts.
Say some words about the bride, perhaps sharing a story about the two of them, and complimenting her on her wedding gown and the success of their wedding day.
The groom toasts the bridesmaids and then may introduce his best man.
The Best Man
The toast by the best man should begin with an introduction of himself and how he knows the groom.
Thank the groom for the invitation to be his best man, and perhaps tell a short story about the groom or newly married couple.
Talk about the bride and groom’s relationship as it developed, any inspirational stories about challenges they have overcome already, and offer support to them over the course of their long married life.
Thank the hosts (parents or bride and groom) for the joyous occasion that has brought everyone together, and perhaps read some greeting cards or messages from guests who were unable to attend.
Lastly, offer a blessing or toast to the newly married couple.
Other Wedding Party Members
If others will be making toasts at the wedding reception, their toasts should follow the best man’s toast.
The bride would speak next, thanking both sets of parents, guests, and her bridesmaids. She could end with a toast to someone of her choosing, perhaps grandparents or guests who have been married for a long time.
A parent of the groom would then speak, if invited to, and toast both bride and groom. The final toast, if any is made after the best man, should be made by the maid of honour and would toast both bride and groom. This could also recognize the absence of anyone unable to attend and wish them well.
Tips for Toaster
Speak loudly, clearly, and slightly more slowly than you would normally.
Five minutes is a good length. Well delivered, it will keep guests entertained and not bored.
Each person making a toast should stand straight and still, and face the bride and groom while being visible to guests.
Think about the toast ahead of time, writing down cues or notes.
Be yourself when you speak.
The right funny stories or thoughts on marriage, love or commitment are good ideas for content.
Relax and enjoy.
Honour the day with your love and support for the bride and groom.