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How to Write and Deliver a Memorable Toast

April 15, 2024 (0) Comments

How to Write and Deliver a Memorable Toast

A wedding toast: The idea of delivering one either fills you with anxiety or fuels your extroverted spirit. Whether you are a natural at public speaking or not, a wedding toast is your opportunity to contribute to the joy and celebration of your friend or family member’s special day. A great wedding toast can uplift spirits, get the audience laughing, and maybe even make a few shed some happy tears. But what’s the formula for a truly great wedding toast? We have an easy-to-follow guide to help you craft a memorable and meaningful toast that honors the couple and leaves a lasting impression.

Photo by: Robert Matthews Photography

Know Your Audience

Before diving into writing your toast, consider your audience. Who will be present at the wedding? Are there any cultural or personal sensitivities you should be aware of? Tailoring your message to the attendees ensures that your words resonate with everyone in the room.

Start with a Warm Greeting

Begin your toast with a warm greeting to set a positive tone. Address the guests and acknowledge the significance of the occasion. A simple, “Good evening, everyone,” followed by a brief introduction of yourself can establish a connection with the audience.

“With Toastmasters, our speeches are anywhere from five to seven minutes long,” said LuAnn Hunt, VP of Public Relations and Secretary for the City of Lynchburg Toastmasters Club. Toastmasters is an international organization that helps members improve their speaking and leadership skills through routine meetups and clubs. Hunt has been a member since 2010.

“We start with a welcome to those in attendance (usually but not always). We open our speech with a statement that is geared to grab the attention of the audience, which is then connected to the rest of our speech,” she continued. “There’s basically a beginning, middle, and end with the opening statement woven throughout the speech and in some way brought back in the conclusion. It’s good to inject some personal humor into the beginning which is a great way to break the ice. For the middle portion, a good thing to follow is to have three goals (or in a wedding toast), three personal stories that include the bride or groom or both. The conclusion should be heartfelt and reconnect the opening of the speech, often repeating a brief version of the three goals.”

Express Genuine Sentiments

The heart of a great toast lies in expressing genuine sentiments about the couple. Share stories, anecdotes, or memories that highlight their love, character, and journey together. Personal touches make the toast more relatable and meaningful.

“Keep the stories brief and highlight the strongest memories,” Hunt advised. “Remember, the toast is for the couple, not about the person giving the toast.”

Hunt suggests making use of visual props to assist with the opening or personal anecdotes. For example, if music is a key component to the couple, begin your toast with a line or two from their favorite song.

“A real example of a great beginning to a toast was the one my daughter gave to her brother at his wedding 23 years ago,” Hunt remembered. “The fairytale of Chris and Megan [the couple getting married] began in their college years. She actually greeted a full-fledged fairy tale of the couple with the assistance of the other bridesmaids and eventually made a booklet of the toast, complete with illustrations that she gave them later.”

Keep It Positive and Light-hearted

While it’s okay to mention challenges or obstacles the couple has overcome, focus on positive and light-hearted aspects. Celebrate their strengths, compatibility, and the joy they bring to each other’s lives. Humor can add a delightful touch but avoid anything that may embarrass or offend.

“Use humor that is light hearted…not to embarrass or remind someone of an event they want to forget,” Hunt said. “Humor used correctly brings smiles to everyone.”

Keep Time in Mind

A well-structured toast flows smoothly and keeps the audience engaged. Aim for a toast that is concise yet meaningful. Keep it under 3-5 minutes to maintain the audience’s interest and ensure a smooth flow of the event. Practice your delivery to gauge the timing and make adjustments as needed.

“Keep in mind for the person giving the toast, time seems to fly by! However, to the audience time can begin to drag,” Hunt noted. “A good toast should last three to five minutes, but no longer than seven minutes.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

Rehearse your toast multiple times to build confidence and polish your delivery. Pay attention to your tone, pace, and gestures. Practicing in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend can provide valuable feedback.

“Practice in front of friends as much as you need to and ask for constructive feedback,” Hunt advised. “A really good option is to record a video of yourself giving the speech. Watching it back, see if you use appropriate hand gestures. Also, check to see if you’re using too many filler words, like ‘um’, ‘ah’, or ‘and.’”

Hunt also says to pay close attention to how you are projecting your voice, stating that not projecting enough is a common mistake toast-givers tend to make.

“At a wedding, you may not have access to a microphone, so projecting your voice is important so that the couple hears your toast and so do the guests,” she said. “Speak to the couple, giving eye contact, but also to the audience.”

Stay Calm and Enjoy the Moment

On the wedding day, take a deep breath, stay calm, and enjoy the moment. Remember, your toast is a gift to the couple, and your sincerity and good wishes will shine through.

Crafting a great toast for a wedding involves sincerity, personalization, and a touch of humor. By knowing your audience, expressing genuine sentiments, structuring your toast effectively, and practicing your delivery, you can deliver a memorable and heartfelt tribute to the newlyweds. Cheers to a beautiful celebration filled with love and happiness!