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Delivering a Great Toast

The Power of Three

Public speaking is the number one fear over death. Which means sometimes the person giving the eulogy at a funeral would rather be the one in the casket than up speaking in front of everyone. It's morbid, but it's true. :)

So when you're a Maid/Matron of Honor, the Best Man, a bridesmaid or groomsman who are asked by the bride or groom to give a toast, that should be an honor for you. If they are specifically asking you to toast them, then you should do everything in your power to honor them that night. It's a toast, not a roast. So be very careful to not cross that line. You want them to laugh, feel loved and maybe even shed a joyous tear.......not feel humiliated because you brought up a very uncomfortable story from college. As they say "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". And this can also be true for college stories. "What happens in college, stays in the dorm room". Some things just don't need to be repeated in front of family and friends.

After 20 years in this business and upwards of 500 weddings under my belt, I can say that I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, when it comes to toasts. I've seen toasts that were upwards of 15 minutes in length, where the person speaking would have you doubled over in laughter one minute and swallowing that lump in your throat the next, because of how well written their toast was. And it didn't even feel like 15 minutes. This was because their delivery hit all the marks, and they took you on an emotional rollercoaster. I don't advise a 15 minute long speech, but if you do, you better bring it like a pro.

On the flip of that, I've also seen toasts that were less than a minute, but so uncomfortable and awkward because the person speaking obviously didn't prepare anything and didn't know where to really go with their toast. So they either said some uncomfortable things over the microphone or they were at a loss for words and most of their toast consisted of "ahh, ummm, errrrr".

So what's in a toast? And what's the Power of Three?

In my personal opinion, a great toast should be no more than three minutes and contain three main parts:

  1. A great opening line. Remember if the MC just introduced you by name, you do not need to repeat it in your opening line.
  2. Tell a little history that you have with the bride or groom. Include a fun/funny story that will get people laughing. And then if possible, some touching words of why that bride or groom is such a good friend and why you are honored to be in the position that you are that day.
  3. Wrap up with a great closing statement that summarizes, wishes the couple well, and then of course raise your glass to ACTUALLY TOAST them. Sometimes those giving a toast forget to actually raise their glass at the very end to wrap things up, and because of that, their speech's ending falls short of what it could have been.

Bonus Tip #1:

No matter how prepared you are, how well rehearsed you are, sometimes you can get caught up in your emotions or nervousness and lose your thoughts. Your "out" is that glass of champagne or beer in front of you. If you are frozen and can't remember your next thought, then wrap things up by raising your glass and asking everyone to join you in a toast to the bride and groom.

Bonus Tip

Want everyone to hear you loud and clear? Hold that microphone up to your chin. Don't cover your mouth with it. We want to see your smile when you speak. But do not get relaxed and hold it down by your bellybutton. Closer to your mouth, the warmer your voice will sound through the speakers, and the less you'll drive the DJ crazy trying to adjust the volume without getting feedback.

And for the love of everything expensive...please don't do a "mic drop" at the end of your toast. It'll cost you about $600 to replace it. Not even kidding.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Diana McKinney wrote:
Fabulous suggestions and information Brian. This has inspired me to make it a habit to speak with toasters before the wedding in order to avoid those awkward stories and uhm, ah, moments.

Thank you.

April 20, 2017 @ 10:33 AM

2. Brian Harris wrote:
Thank you Diana! I appreciate the kind words.

May 9, 2017 @ 9:03 PM

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