5 Tips for Writing a Great Wedding Toast

Today, Mike is here with a few tips on how to write a great Best Man, Maid of Honor, or parent speech, from the point of view of a wedding filmmaker! As videographers, we love capturing great, crisp, and meaningful audio. Audio plays a huge part when it comes to constructing a wedding film. We often ask couples to write letters to one another or even personalized vows, just so we are able to have great and meaningful audio for their films.

Our style when it comes to wedding filmmaking emphasizes storytelling, and to be able to successfully tell a couple’s story, audio is a must! When a Best Man, Maid of Honor, or parent gives a bomb speech, we do a happy dance inside because we know that audio is going to help us with their wedding film. Letters and vows are great and necessary, as they make for great film content, but capturing the couples’ relationship through the eyes of one of their best friends, parents or siblings, can really enhance a wedding film, whether it’s through laughter, tears or a little bit of both.

So let’s get to it – you’ve been asked to give a toast at your best friend’s wedding. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably panicking at this point about the fact that 200 people will be staring at you waiting for you to say something meaningful. What should I say? Should I make a joke? What if what I want to say is too long or too short? 

Fortunately, the couple and their guests want you to succeed. They want to love what you say and to laugh and cry at the stories you tell. And, fortunately for you, I’m here to help you make that happen. Here are some tips to help you write an amazing wedding toast!

Tip #1: Roast or Toast?
Decide what type of speech you want to give. It’s really important to consider what your relationship is like with the couple and how the couple might react to certain things you might say. Is the couple easily embarrassed? Are they private people? Are they super loud and outgoing? Do they share details about their lives with many people? 
Answering questions about the couple like these will help you decide the style in which you’d like to deliver your toast. Do you want people to laugh? Cry? Personally, I think some type of combination of a roast/toast is the sweet spot, but it all depends on what you think the couple will be comfortable with. You want them to laugh but you don’t want to severely embarrass them either.

Tip #2: It’s Not About YOU!
Forgive me for being super blunt, but I think this one is really important 🙂 
After being in the wedding industry for several years now, I’ve heard a lot of toasts. One of the most common things I tend to hear is the person giving the speech spending almost the entire time talking about their relationship with one specific member of the couple (ie. the Matron of Honor talks about her own relationship with the bride). 
While I think this is okay, remember the day is about the couple. It’s not about your relationship with one of them. We want to hear about both of them! Telling inside joke after inside joke where only you can see the humor in it or really understand it, can make the audience (or the other half of the couple) feel left out or confused, when they should want to laugh and/or cry.

Which brings me to my next tip…

Tip #3: Tell a Story
And try to tell a story about the couple. While it’s okay to talk about the time you and the groom went to Atlantic City and blew $2,500 in a couple of nights, make sure your primary focus is on the couple. Even if you don’t know the bride or don’t know the groom very well, focusing on the couple is still very possible! I’m not saying don’t talk about your memories or how you met them, but don’t ONLY talk about those things!

Here are some topics you could focus on when considering a story you’d like to tell about the couple:

  • How did the couple meet?
  • How did the bride tell you she felt about the groom when they first met? 
  • How did the groom tell you she felt about the bride when they first met?
  • How/when did you find out the couple was dating? What was your reaction?
  • How/when did you find out the couple got engaged? What was your reaction?
  • How has the couple changed one another? How have you noticed the bride/groom make one another “better?”
  • Are there any particularly fond or noteworthy memories you have of or with the couple that you’d like to share?
  • What’s unique about this couple’s relationship that you’d like to make sure people know about?
  • What has the couple persevered through together that would be considerably challenging?

One of my favorite toasts ever was when the best man told the story about the groom’s Diabetes diagnosis and how the bride and groom have and continue to persevere through it. It was a very impactful and unforgettable toast, and if you focus on some of the topics above, I know you can give a memorable toast too!

Also, keep in mind that the couple has probably hired a videographer, and the videographer’s job is to tell a story. This is me being a little selfish :), but help the videographer out with your toast! Anything you talk about that’s personal to the couple would help the couple’s videographer construct an amazing story for their wedding film. The couple wants you to be in the wedding film – or else they wouldn’t have asked you to give a toast in the first place! Make sure your speech includes “wedding film worthy” content by answering a few of those questions above!

Tip #4: Address the Couple and Raise a Glass
Finally, your speech is over. Much easier than you thought it would be, right? Give well wishes to the couple. Raise your glass. The end 🙂

Tip #5: 5 Minutes is the “Sweet Spot.”
It’s natural to feel anxious about whether your speech is too long or too short. I would say aim for as close to 5 minutes as possible. It’s definitely a little weird for your speech to literally just be, “thanks for coming everyone!” But it’s also equally as weird to ramble for 15 minutes. Aim for 5 minutes, and you should be good! It’s enough time to tell a meaningful story, give your congratulations and compliments but also not too much time where you’ll have the audience bored. You have the floor, and you don’t want to lose everyone’s attention!

Bonus Tip: DON’T Start by Saying, “For those of you who don’t know me…”
Please? Literally everyone says this now. It was funny the first one billion times! Remember when Pharell Williams’ “Happy” first came out and you literally couldn’t get away from it? “For those of you who don’t know me” is the “wedding toast” version of that song.

Even if you Google, “Examples of wedding toasts,” half of the results all include some form of “For those of you who don’t know me.” Don’t listen to them!!! You should absolutely identify yourself, but please, please, please don’t say, “for those of you who don’t know me!” Leave out the “fluff” and get started with your speech. The crowd wants to hear what you have to say!

Conclusion: Hopefully this helps alleviate a lot of the pressure that comes with being asked to give a speech at a wedding. Remember, try your best to focus on the couple. The day is about them, after all! Tell a couple of meaningful stories about them, make a few jokes, thank the couple for selecting you to give a speech, and you’ll do great!

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