In contrast to wedding speeches, wedding toasts are often short and sweet. They often express good wishes for health, happiness, and prosperity to the bride and groom.
Whether you're the father of the bride, the groom, the best man, or any other member of the wedding party, these tips and guidelines will help to make sure your wedding toast is perfect for the perfect moment.
Wedding Toast Traditions
Traditionally, there are three toasts given at a wedding, though of course many more are likely to called over the course of the reception. The father of the bride often toasts to the health and happiness of the new couple while thanking family and friends. The groom responds with a toast of thanks to the bridesmaids. Finally, the best man responds to the groom on behalf of the bridesmaids, toasting the newlyweds again. Customarily, the best man's toast is often the longest (and funniest!) of the three.
The Key to a Great Toast
Great wedding toasts are heartfelt, genuine, and brief - twenty or thirty seconds are normally sufficient. Anything more than two or three minutes can be considered a wedding speech. Toasts are generally sweet, funny, and poetic, as your goal is to make the audience laugh and then cry -- hopefully with the happiness and poignancy of your words!
The key to the perfect wedding toast is practice. Know what you're going to say by heart, so that you won't stumble over the words when the time comes. "Winging it" can lead to some dire consequences, especially if you've had a drink or two beforehand, which is often the case at a wedding.
What Not to Say and Do
For wedding toasts, leave past mistakes in the past. While poking fun at the groom's fraternity days or the bride's excessive shopping habit may be appropriate for a wedding speech, let the toast be just what it's supposed to be - a heartfelt, sweetly funny wish for the happiness of the union of your loved ones. In particular, sexual escapades and run-ins with the law are to be avoided as toast topics. This may sound like common sense, but these subjects have a tendency to pop up time and again with wedding toasters who are unprepared at the critical moment.
Also, try to avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine. You're much more likely to speak clearly and evenly if your body isn't trying to balance itself chemically.
Finally, relax! Remember that this is the most receptive audience you're ever likely to face - every person in this room wants you to succeed, and will laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. If you're still nervous, take ten deep breaths before you begin, pausing between inhales and exhales. You can also try selectively tensing and relaxing the different muscle groups in your body, beginning with your toes, working up through your legs, abdominal muscles, etc. Have a few sips of water, close your eyes, and visualize yourself giving the perfect wedding toast. Let the love, admiration, and respect you have for your loved ones run through you, and you can't go wrong.
For more information and to spark your wedding toast imagination, please see Wedding Toast Examples.