Congratulations! You’ve accepted the role of best man or maid of honor. Or perhaps you have the honor of being a parent of the bride or groom. You’ve taken care of your tux/dress, you’ve helped throw a fun celebration, but now there’s just one more duty standing between you and the big day. You’ve been asked to give a toast. Yes, the dreaded toast! Where do you begin? What do you say? Should you be funny, or maybe serious is the right tone? There’s so many things you could say, stories to tell, or perhaps you’re just drawing a blank.
Well, you’re in the right place! Having filmed and photographed countless weddings, I can say we’ve seen our fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve seen the off-the-cuff stumblers, the seemingly forever essays, the sweet and sincere ones, and the ones that aren’t really a toast at all – we’ll talk about those later. And aside from what we’ve seen, the toasts are such an integral part of the day when we’re filming a wedding, because it’s where we’ll get hear all those sweet words that will be said about the bride and groom. And sweet words about the bride and groom help make a very sweet wedding film. So with all the pressure to give a great toast, we wanted to share a few tips based on our experience for what will make a crowd-pleaser!
Tip #1: Know what you’re going to say beforehand
This is a big one, and we hear push-back from this all the time, but it’s so important! Unless you speak to groups of people at least once a week, you probably shouldn’t speak off the cuff. Now I’m not talking about writing it out verbatim, but you should have at least an outline with your key points. This may seem like an extra task, but it will keep you on track and help ease any nerves that could end with you blanking on what to say…because that will happen! Also, rehearse it beforehand so you know how long it will be. You don’t want to be that guy or gal that is holding up dinner being served, but you also don’t want to be forgettable with a thirty second friendly wish. With that being said, we’ve found that the best toasts are usually 3-4 minutes in length.
“But when I’m in the moment I’ll know what to say.” Well…probably not. If you’re drawing a blank on what to say now ahead of time, you’ll probably draw a blank on the spot as well. We’ve seen it happen, and you’ll just start repeating yourself, so don’t be that guy! ;)
Tip #2: Avoid the cliches
If you want to give the most amazing toast that’s ever been given, there’s a few phrases and topics you should avoid. They’ve just been said too many times. And the biggest one happens almost immediately as you start into your toast. It’s the introduction. “For those of you who don’t know me…” But wait, there are gonna be a few people who don’t know me, right? Sure, but in actually, it’s usually most of the crowd, if not everyone but the wedding party who doesn’t know you, so just introduce yourself with a usual, “Hello, I’m Tyler, and I have had the honor of being Jeff’s best man.” Much smoother! :)
Another big no-no is that you may be tempted to inform the groom that because he is now married, his life is officially over, and he is destined to be enslaved to this woman standing next to him for the rest of his life. Well that doesn’t sound very fun, does it? Of course not! There’s no doubt the ball and chain stigma is out there. But, there’s such a better way to address the subject, and to do it you’ll want to get to the source of this cliche. Obviously we’d be lying if we told the couple that they’ll just be able to carry on in their life as they were – marriage requires some dying to self for the betterment of your spouse. Yet there’s a sweetness to it, isn’t there? A great husband will love and serve his wife faithfully, and a great wife will be a loving support to her husband. So instead of dogging the groom about it, be a source of encouragement to both of them instead!
Tip #3: Don’t let your toast be a roast
If you’ve been best friends with the bride or groom for any significant amount of time, you’ve got stories on them. Like the really juicy ones. And you’ve probably been waiting for the perfect time to share them! Keep in mind that it’s always fine to tell a few funny stories, but for every joke you crack, I would challenge you to try and also mention a positive character trait about the person! If you’re considering sharing a story about the bride and/or groom, see if you can tie it a positive something about them. Inside jokes and other funny comments are great as icing on the cake here. After all, everyone does love a good laugh, but don’t let that be all you say! Keep in mind that no matter how rowdy your group of friends are, the guests are still expecting to hear sweet words said about the couple, so make sure it’s well balanced between funny and sincere. And remember it’s toast, not a roast. Also it goes without saying that you should watch how much you’ve had to drink before going up to the mic. The only thing more embarrassing than stumbling through your toast is having that toast preserved forever on video. ;) We’ve seen it happen!
Tip #4: Include strong content
So if funny stories should just be icing on the cake, what other things should you say besides the usual “I’m proud of you” and “I’m so happy for you?” Well here are some suggestions of things we’ve heard first hand that always make for great toasts. Firstly, you can talk about how they met! Were you there? Maybe you could shed some interested light or a new perspective on how it all unfolded. Or if you weren’t there, talk about when you first met the other one and you’re first thoughts about them. People also love to talk about the moment when they knew that the bride and groom were destined to be married! If you’re like most people, you probably even knew before couple thought they did! That was certainly true for us, haha! While you’re there, talk about why you knew they’d be a perfect fit for each other. They say opposites attract, so maybe that’s true here. Or maybe they have so much in common, you couldn’t imagine someone else for either of them! Like we said when telling a funny story, you can also compliment them by their character traits. Out of everyone in the room, with the exception of the one they just married, chances are you know them the best, so use this time to share with everyone the great things you love about your friend, son or daughter! Lastly, some words of wisdom or marriage advise for the newlyweds is always very sincere and well-received.
Hopefully this helps you prepare an amazing toast and takes some pressure off of that time during the reception. If you’re still nervous about delivering it, remember, confidence is perceived and perception is reality, so just fake it till you make it, and you’ll do great! Now go forth and deliver the best toast you ever have! :)