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Video:How to Give a Great Wedding Toast

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Shy in front of crowds? Nervous about what to say? Follow these tips for a perfect wedding toast, and you'll say all the right things, and maybe even get a few tears.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Give a Great Wedding Toast

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. Boring your guests, insulting your inlaws, and pronouncing your love for your best friend's wife are all pretty much faux pas in the game of life. So why the temptation when making a speech at a friend or family member's wedding? Well, here are a few pitfalls to avoid, and a few tips to heed, when giving a wedding toast that will have people raving for generations to come. Check it out.

Prepare for Your Wedding Toast

The first key to a great speech is preparation. Before you do anything, decide what form your toast will take. Will you write it out and read it verbatim, use notes for reference, or just wing it?

Generally speaking, just winging it is most likely to get you in trouble on the day. Don't get me wrong, I've heard some great toasts that sound completely off-the-cuff, but they've always been from naturally gifted speakers, who I'd be willing to bet made some well-rehearsed mental notes going into it.

Writing Out a Toast

If you're a great writer, there's nothing wrong with writing out your entire toast. Your facile with language and ability to string together impressive sounding words won't be lost on your audience if you read your toast with conviction. Just don't get too stuffy - this isn't a term paper or a TPS report.

You might also be most comfortable just making some notes to keep you on track as you go - this allows you a greater connection with your audience, and gives you the flexibility to see what's working and what's not as you give your toast.

Which is key, since there's nothing sadder than watching a bad toast turn even worse, but it happens a lot. To start off on the right foot and avoid digging yourself into a big hole, try using this simple but universally effective game plan, patent pending.

No-Fail Toast Game Plan

Start by introducing yourself, and your relationship to the bride or groom. Explain how you know them, and how far the three of you go back. Next, go for the funny, but don't be obnoxious. Share a witty anecdote about how you met either the bride or groom, and how their lives became better after they were together.

Talk about some quirky trait that one has which completely complements the other. Remember that wedding audiences are generally pretty easy - they're all good friends, with their emotions at the surface, and they're probably a little tipsy. So keep it all pretty clean and light - a good natured approach will get 'em smiling and even laughing with almost no effort.

Make the Wedding Toast Emotional

Next, go for the tears. Once you have them laughing, they're primed and ready for some good schmaltz. Talk about what an incredible couple they are, how inspiring they are to all those around them, and how the world is a better place with them together. Bring up the beautiful union of families, and hint about their incredible kids down the line.

Keep the Toast Positive

If you're ever in doubt, go for compliments. These people have been through a lot to get to this day, and sometimes it's just nice to hear how much your friends and family dig you. Whatever you do, remember that the goal is to NOT embarrass the bride and groom in front of everyone they know. This is a toast, not a roast. Also be sure to steer clear of these all-too common snares:

Wedding Toast Faux Pas

Don't drink too much before your toast - a drink to loosen up is okay, but much more than that and you'll be telling old college stories that are best left in college. Never use an insult of any kind - this is a festival of love, remember? Don't use any corny one-liners, make sure that any humor in your toast comes from genuine sentiment, not Little Johnny jokes. Never mention ex-girlfriends or boyfriends, and be sure to give time to addressing both the bride and groom. And finally, don't hog the spotlight - this day is about celebrating the wedding, not your toast.

Staying Cool During the Toast

But if all this sounds a little daunting, or if you're simply terrified of speaking in front of other people, just remember this: keep it simple. Tell the bride and groom how much you care about them, and how much it means that they've included you in their wedding celebration. Wish them all the success in the universe, have everyone raise a glass, and give them a big hug. And if you mean it, you just might snag a tear or two.

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