June 23, 2015

How to Give a Great Toast

A guide to delivering a tasteful speech on your best friend’s big day.

We’ve all been there. A beautiful wedding, a happy couple,  a wonderful celebration—and then it’s time for the toasts. Then the best man gets up and it’s apparent he’s been to the open bar a few too many times. Cue a cringe-inducing few minutes, filled with embarrassing stories and one too many winks. It’s the dread of every groom: having his best man give his worst speech.

How to Give a Great Toast (cheers!) Image: Sergey Ryzhov / Shutterstock.com

Here are a few ground rules to make sure that if and when you are asked to rise to the occasion, you deliver a timeless and refined toast.

  1. Actually prepare. Some of us like to think we work best under pressure or when we are “winging it,” but this is one time where doing your homework will really pay off. Think of your time spent with the groom. Maybe talk about how you two met or even how you met the bride. It’s great to have a few stories or anecdotes in your back pocket so that you can switch it up without being at a loss for words, or worse, have too many.
  2. Have a point. For bonus points, make sure that your toast or speech has a purpose or a theme. It could be how the groom was always doing things to make him happy, but nothing made him happier than when he met his partner. Maybe it’s about how his entire life you were his partner in crime, but now you’re passing the torch to her. Not only will it seem put together and polished, but it will sure to induce an “aww” or two from the crowd.
  3. Limit alcohol. It is common to have a few cocktails at a reception, but wait until after the toasts are done before going at it too hard. It’s usually apparent when the best man has had one too many and this is usually when it goes downhill. Sure, a bit of liquid courage is okay, but just keep it to a minimum for the sake of the happy couple.
  4. Keep inside jokes on the inside. Although a well-delivered story can have a real heartwarming impact, do not stray into the area of inside jokes or stories only a handful of people will understand. If you have to nudge the groom or exaggerate a wink after the story is told, just don’t do it. Talk about lessons learned from events, rather than stories of teenage behavior or wild weekends. If you want to get a laugh, try a light-hearted joke at the groom’s expense instead.
  5. The shorter the better. No one likes listening to someone ramble on and on at a wedding, so with respect for everyone, keep it short. A short story or two, a quick expression of gratitude followed by raising your glass in honor of the happy couple is the easiest and quickest way to make a great and lasting impression.

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