Before dinner is served at most wedding receptions in the United States, it is customary for the Best Man and Maid of Honor (or Matron of Honor) to give a speech about the groom and bride, respectively. Preparing a wedding toast that is funny or memorable can be tricky, so follow these tips.
Pick an Appropriate Speech Topic
First, think about the tone of the wedding, and the personality of the bride and groom. Make sure the speech matches the tone of all three. There is nothing worse than a wedding speech that is inappropriate or uncomfortable.
If the bride and groom have a good sense of humor, feel free to add some jokes, but keep them tasteful. This is not the time to swear, make lewd comments, or bring up secrets, skeletons in the closet or embarrassing stories. There is a good chance the toast will be videotaped, and may end up on the Internet or copied onto keepsake wedding DVDs for the happy couple and their families, so keep it clean.
If the bride and groom are sentimental, be sure to add a touching story, particularly regarding the love they have for each other. Remember that a wedding is the celebration of their love, pay homage to that with a story that illustrates that love.
Make Sure to Personalize the Toast
There are few people attending a wedding that know the bride or groom better than the Maid or Matron of Honor and the Best Man. Give the story a personal touch by sharing a story you share with one or both of them, particularly if it is humorous (but tasteful) and paints the couple in a good light. Try to tie the story to how the bride or groom will be a good spouse.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Usually, the toasts are made while guests are seated and waiting for dinner to be served. It’s very likely that everyone is pretty hungry at this point in the wedding day. Do not prolong the wait for dinner by giving a long speech.
Keep the wedding toast limited to a few minutes – five minutes tops. It is possible to give a great toast that is both funny and humorous in under three or four minutes with good editing. Keep the speech simple. Don’t include tangents or examples that don’t relate to the general idea of the speech.
A good format for a wedding speech includes these steps:
- Introduce yourself by name, role in the wedding, and relation to the bride or groom
- If appropriate, transition into your speech by sharing a quote that relates to the content of the speech. Don’t force this if you can’t find a great quote.
- Tell a brief story that illustrates what a good person the bride or groom is, or what a good spouse the bride or groom will be. Don’t go into more detail that what is necessary to get to the point of the story.
- Include a tasteful and clean joke if appropriate
- Wrap up the speech by summarizing the point – how the story shows what a good person or spouse the bride or groom is or will be
- End the speech by asking all the guests to raise their glasses in a toast to the happy couple
Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t forget to practice the speech before the big day, enough to remember the general ideas and flow of the speech. Practicing will help alleviate nerves, and will also help you avoid going off on tangents when giving the speech to the guests.
But don’t just practice in front of the mirror – practice in front of another friend or two of the bride and groom. This will help ensure the speech is appropriate, and will also give you an idea of what kind of reaction the guests might have – laughing at appropriate times, or being touched by a sweet story or quote.
In the end, remember that the best wedding speeches come from the heart. Think about what your friend means to you, and what your friend will mean to his or her future spouse. Think about your own ideas of love, marriage and friendship, and vocalize those feelings in the wedding speech.