How to Give a Memorable Wedding Toast

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Your closest pal has just asked you to serve as the best man at his wedding. While planning the bachelor party shouldn't be a problem, you may find yourself daunted by the fact that you have to give a speech in front of hundreds of people. Have no fear! Giving a wedding toast shouldn't be a problem if you follow these easy steps:

  • Get your thoughts on paper. While some human beings have the envious ability to stand up in front of a large group of people and pull beautiful, funny, and heartfelt words seemingly out of thin air, most people do not. For most of us, writing down what we want to say before we say it is extremely advisable.

  • Rehearse. Give yourself a good week of rehearsal time. By the end of your week, you should be able to hit on your toast's major points without referencing your notes.

  • Stay (relatively) sober. Nothing will ruin your speech faster than five-too-many Jack & Cokes, so hold off on the celebratory booze until after you've given the speech.

  • Thank the benefactors. If the bride's family is paying for the spread (as is tradition), please, thank them right away. Failure to thank the host family is a relatively widespread, regrettable phenomenon. Host families spend a bundle and are rarely thanked. Mentioning your appreciation for their generosity shows good taste. If the bride and groom are paying for the wedding, simply express how delighted you and your fellow guests are to be in attendance.

  • Compliment the bride. Another key component to any wedding toast is complimenting the bride. Complimenting her on her beauty is always effective, but making your compliments personalized (her smile, her laugh, her way with children, etc.) add a nice touch.

  • Speak from the heart. The most effective wedding toasts are heartfelt tributes to your friend and his wife. What makes the groom special? What kind of man is he? What kind of man has his wife helped him become? Why do you admire the groom? Why do you admire the bride?

  • Avoid racy and/or embarrassing subjects. That trip to Tijuana you made with the groom in college? Leave it out of the speech. No matter how funny you may think you're being when you bring up the groom's previous life as an unhinged bachelor, remember that off-color material can often blow up in the speaker's face and even worse, reflect poorly on the groom.

  • Leave them wanting more. In other words, be brief. Unless you are a Tony Robbins-caliber public speaker, you should try and keep your toast between 3-5 minutes. Anything over 5 minutes and you risk derailing the party's momentum.

  • Raise your glass and toast the bride and groom.

  • Relax. Ahh, the best step. Your job is done. Bask in the warm glow of appreciative, drunken bridesmaids.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never bring up the groom's previous sexual history or any ex-girlfriends.
  • Never, ever insult the wife. Ever. Seriously.
  • The speech is not about you, so avoid stories that are egocentric. Some best men make the mistake of concentrating far too much on their own lives. This speech is about your best friend and his wife, so speak accordingly.
  • Avoid reading directly from a script. While it is suggested you write everything beforehand and keep notes in front of you, avoid reading verbatim from these notes. A good speech should sound somewhat rehearsed yet still provide for moments of spontaneity.

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