A wedding is one of the most exciting days not only for the bride and groom, but for their wedding party. It can also be one of the most stressful days if you don’t feel prepared.

Amidst all the planning that goes into a wedding, from picking the time and date, to selecting the perfect venue, to coordinating attire, food and transportation, the most important things are the things money can’t buy.

While visual presentation is clearly important, from a stunning bridal gown to a photo worthy part of bridesmaids and grooms,  even more important are the words everyone shares to commemorate the day. And while a good deal of time (and stress!) goes into the perfect wedding vows, wedding toasts are also important ways to celebrate the couple and add a lasting personal touch.

The good news: while wedding toasts are an important moment for any wedding, they don’t need to be overly complicated or cause anyone headaches. Keep these tips in mind, and your wedding toast is sure to make a lasting, but positive, impression.

  1. Include the Essentials: A wedding toast should do three main things: 1) celebrate and recognize the couple 2) share the speaker’s relationship to either the bride or groom 3)include an anecdote that tells us something about the bride or groom. It’s important that the speaker begins with introducing him or herself, and quickly focuses attention to the bride or groom. No matter what the speaker decides to include, the emphasis should be on the couple-not the speaker.
  2. Mind the Time: We’ve all been to a wedding where the toasts seem never to end and the food starts getting cold. The problem with wedding toasts is that some speakers are so passionate about what they’re saying, they risk guests’ minds wandering, or worse, guests wishing they were somewhere else. To figure out a good length, first consider how many people will be giving toasts. Obviously, if there is only one wedding toast, it can go much longer than if many in the bridal party insist on speaking. As a general rule of thumb,  three to four should be the upper limit for giving toasts. You’ll have time to speak and celebrate later! In most cases, the best man, maid or matron of honor, and sometimes a parent gives a toast. Play it safe and keep your toasts around the two to three minute mark. Less than a minute and a half  may not make a lasting impression, while over three may start to lose guests.
  3. Entertain: This isn’t a piece of advice that comes as a surprise, but, while a toast is meant to both inform and celebrate, your guests shouldn’t fall asleep listening to it! Adding a short story that includes details your guests may not know, but helps give us more information about the bride or groom ( a maid of honor may share a childhood story with the groom/ bride) is a great idea. Kind jokes aimed towards the bride and groom are also great. Most importantly, share little details that could only be spoken by that speaker.
  4. Use Presentation Skills: For anyone who’s taken public speaking, or anyone who has simply witnessed a really engaging speaker, it’s obvious that what you say is only part of the story; how you say it may be almost as important. Practice speaking with a clear voice, enunciating words, with proper posture. Body language speaks worlds: see this link for tips, and make sure you don’t cross your arms or slouch! If someone has a quiet voice, consider bringing a microphone for the toasts.
  5. Be Authentic: Finally, be yourself. If you’re not a comedian, don’t feel obligated to tell a joke. Focus on the reason for the toast, and don’t stress too much about appearing a certain way. The best toasts come from a place of authenticity, and no perfectly rehearsed speech will beat that. In fact, while have a general outline is a good idea, it’s best not to read directly off notes.

Photo Credit: Jason Thomas Crocker Photography