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The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Toasts – Who Gives Them, Why They Matter, and How to Write the Perfect One

By: Compose.ly — December 11, 2018

bottle of champagne

If you’re looking for a great wedding toast, then it’s very likely that someone you love is getting married. That person might be your best friend, sibling, child, or someone else entirely. Whatever the case may be, you want your toast to be as entertaining and well-received as possible.

You might be excited about giving the toast. It can be a lot of fun to share stories and good wishes for a loved one on his or her special day. Maybe there’s a story you’re excited to tell, or maybe you just enjoy getting up in front of people and making them laugh, cry, and smile.

Of course, not everyone looks forward to giving a wedding toast. If you’re feeling a little bit nervous, you’re in good company – about a quarter of the population has a fear of public speaking. Be brave, rise above, and take the time to honor your loved one.

Why Does Your Wedding Toast Matter?

First and foremost, wedding speeches exist to wish the happy couple well as they embark on their new life together. Family and friends come together to hear the memories and expressions of love that the speaker has to share, and these create a collective good feeling that sets the stage for a warm and happy marriage.

Wedding toasts also serve as transitional moments. They can kick off the reception, help the crowd to settle down for dinner, or bring everyone together after the cocktail hour. Meanwhile, they draw attention to all of the people who have contributed to the production that is the wedding itself.

Who Gives a Wedding Toast?

Chances are, you won’t be the only one toasting to the happy couple. Weddings traditionally involve speeches from:

The Best Man

The best man’s toast is the most traditional for the wedding day itself. If this is your job, be warned – people may expect you to make them laugh. Funny wedding toasts are generally thought of as the purview of the groom’s honor attendant.

You’ll want to pick your funny stories carefully. (Remember, the bride’s and groom’s grandmothers may be in attendance, not to mention young children.) Make sure everything you say is family-friendly and doesn’t embarrass anyone.

Your speech should also include a few tender moments. You don’t have to sound like a greeting card, but people love it when the best man shows his soft spot for the groom and the new bride.

The Maid of Honor

The maid of honor’s speech is less traditional than the best man’s, but more and more couples are handing the microphone to the bride’s honor attendant as well as the groom’s. The structure tends to be similar to the best man’s speech – a little bit of funny, a little bit of sweet – but maybe more of the latter. And of course, it should reflect the maid of honor’s personality.

The Parents

Traditionally, if the bride’s father has paid for the wedding, he offers a brief welcome and a “thank you” to the guests for coming. The bride’s mother can do the same if she’s footing the bill. If both parents or both sets of parents chipped in, one of them can provide this welcome while the others stand behind him or her.

Parents’ Rehearsal Dinner Speeches

Parents of the bride and groom tend to make their longer speeches at the rehearsal dinner. They may be part of a longer list of speakers. The couple can even open the floor to anyone at the dinner who would like to say a few words. This means family members, close friends, the ceremony officiant … anyone the couple would enjoy hearing from.

The Happy Couple

Sometimes, the bride and groom may even say a few words themselves, thanking everyone for coming. They don’t toast themselves, but they can toast the family and friends that came out to celebrate their wedding. Like the parents’ toasts, this speech should be brief and mostly comprised of “welcome” and “thank you.”

How to Write a Wedding Toast – A Step-by-Step Guide

writing wedding speech journal

When you take the microphone at the reception, all eyes will be on you. Naturally, you want yours to be one of the best wedding toasts that the guests have ever heard. Here’s how to find and select a toast that everyone will be talking about (in a good way).

1. Describe the happy couple

Speeches have personalities just like people do. Start by writing down a few words that make you think of the bride and groom, both separately and together. Is he a funny guy? Is she tender and romantic? Do they bring out these qualities in each other?

Make a list of adjectives. It will give you a way of checking whether a potential toast is right for this wedding.

2. Choose the stories you want to tell

The stories that you share in your toast might involve you, but make sure they focus on the couple. The operative word here is “couple” – you might be the sister, brother, or best friend of either the bride or groom, but the wedding is about the two of them. Bring in your loved one’s “other half” as soon as possible.

If you share an old memory of the bride, keep it short and then switch to a memory of how she met her husband or wife. If you talk about what a “guy’s guy” the groom used to be, use it as an intro to mention how his new bride has softened him.

Remember, you’re speaking to a diverse crowd, some of whom know the groom better and some of whom are closer to the bride. Make your stories as universally enjoyable as possible.

Avoid Inside Jokes

If you have to use the phrase “you had to be there,” then the story doesn’t belong in your wedding toast. The point of a wedding toast is to bring the crowd together to honor the bride and groom. It’s fine to tell a fun story that will make everyone laugh, but if no one but the two of you will get it, leave it out.

Don’t Embarrass Anyone

We’ve already touched on avoiding the raunchy stories, but it’s also important to avoid other potentially embarrassing tales. This includes any cringe-worthy childhood moments that will make the bride or groom blush (parents and siblings of the happy couple, we’re talking to you).

To be safe, avoid any story that would need to end with “I’m only teasing.” Pick a story that won’t make anyone want to hide under the table.

Once you have a story or two in mind, you’ll be able to find a structure for it.

3. Make sure the toast includes well wishes

Every wedding toast should include some version of “I’m happy for you” and “I wish you the best.” The way your toast expresses these sentiments will depend on your personality, your relationship to the bride and groom, and the tone of the ceremony.

On Blessings

If you are a religious or spiritual person, you may feel moved to bless the couple. That’s fine, as long as the couple will welcome it! If you’re not sure, ask. You can ask the bride’s or groom’s family if you want to keep the blessing a surprise, but don’t make any assumptions. Even if the couple has had a church wedding, they might want to keep the reception more secular.

4. End with raising glasses (or don’t)

Many toasts end with the speaker asking everyone to raise their glasses to the happy couple. Your toast can phrase this in any number of ways, from “to your health” to “many happy years.”

You could also choose to opt out of mentioning glasses or drinking at all and just wish them well. Again, it all depends on the tone of the ceremony and the preferences of the couple.

Tips for Writing a Wedding Toast

There are plenty of wedding toasts out there, so which one is best for you? Here are a few suggestions to help you find the one that will hit all the right notes.

Keep it Short and Sweet

Before you choose a speech, read it aloud. If it’s more than five minutes, keep trying. If it’s significantly shorter, put it in the “probably” pile. No one ever leaves a reception wishing that the speeches had been longer.

Follow the 3-1-2 Rule

No, this one doesn’t refer to how many drinks you should have before, during, and after your toast. In fact, no matter how nervous you are, keep the imbibing to a minimum until you’ve handed off the microphone. You’ll thank us later.

Basically, 3-1-2 means that your wedding toast should follow the following formula:

  • Start in the third person with a story about the bride or groom.
  • Switch into the first person. Share a little bit about your relationship with the bride and groom.
  • Finish in the second person with a wish for the happy couple.

Speeches that follow this formula sound more balanced, keep the audience engaged, and prevent you from spending the whole toast talking about high school memories of the bride or groom.

Keep It Positive

If the couple went through some rocky periods to get to their wedding day, you can allude to them, as long as nothing about it is a secret. Just make sure that you use those difficult times purely as a stepping stone to the happiness that led them to “I do.”

bridesmaids sister

This also goes for your own stories. You might love the bride because she was there for you when your mom or dad or dog died, but pick something a little bit more cheerful for your wedding toast.

Don’t Spill Secrets

You wouldn’t be giving a wedding toast if you weren’t close to the bride, the groom, or to both. If they’ve told you anything about their future plans, don’t include it in the toast unless you’re sure they’ve told everyone. This applies particularly to any plans about starting a family. That process is notoriously unpredictable, and you don’t want to break hearts or spoil surprises.

A Final Note – Don’t Forget to Practice!

It’s tempting to rest on your laurels once you’ve found the perfect marriage toast, but remember that you still have to give it. Practice it a few times, preferably before an audience, but don’t over-rehearse. You want to seem comfortable, but casual.

Ready to get started? Here are some wedding toast examples to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing.

Wedding Toast Examples, From the Best Man to the Mother of the Bride

Wedding toasts are as varied as the people who write them and the people they describe. Here is a sampling, geared toward almost anyone who might be asked to speak at a wedding.

The Maid of Honor

  1. Kate has been my best friend since the third grade. We used to have sleepovers every Friday, and we’d draw pictures of our future husbands. Mark, you are those pictures come to life. You’re everything she wanted, and I know you always will be.
  2. When Beth met Chris, she called me to tell me how wonderful he is. I thought, sure, my sister thinks everyone is wonderful. But he is as loving and kind and giving as she is. Chris, you’re the only guy I’ve ever met who fits that description. I wish you the amazing life that you both deserve.
  3. Hannah and Josh have the kind of relationship that you usually only see in Hallmark movies. They are so loving, so supportive … it’s truly beautiful to see. Hannah, Josh, I love you both so much. I wish you nothing but the best.
  4. Last year, at my own wedding, Jen caught the bouquet. She’d been dating Nate for a while and we all loved him, so we set her up to catch it. He proposed three weeks later, and I’m so happy for them. Congratulations, guys.
  5. I remember when Kim and Jeff announced their engagement at Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone cheered, and our youngest cousin jumped up and yelled “Finally!” You two are meant to be, and I hope you’re always as happy as you are today.

The Best Man

  1. Some best men start their speeches with things like “Well, he’s finally settling down.” But Ben’s been looking forward to his wedding day since we were in high school, and I can’t think of a better woman to be sitting beside him today. Ben and Lisa, I wish you the wonderful life you deserve.
  2. My brother Tom, everybody. Can’t believe this is the same kid who had “no girls allowed” written on his bedroom door. Now he has Annie, and he wouldn’t keep her out of any part of his life. He loves her more than anything, and I’m so happy she’s part of our family.
  3. When Chris left for his first date with Liz, he said “I’m going to meet the woman I’m going to marry.” I should probably add that it was a blind date – well, kind of blind, since they’d been texting back and forth for a week. Nonstop. You two always knew this was meant to be, and I’m so happy for you.
  4. I’ll keep this short, because Greg’s been talking about the beef bourguignon he ordered for months. Greg loves good food. So does Frannie – in fact, one of the signs that he’d found the one was that he let her make dinner for him. Here’s to hundreds and thousands of dinners, you two.
  5. Jack and Emily, ladies and gentlemen. You know, after Jack proposed, he told me that he asked her because he could see the two of them with gray hair, sitting on the porch, “grandchildren on her knee” and all of that. I know all of those dreams will come true.

The Parents

Parents usually give longer speeches at the rehearsal dinner, so their wedding toasts tend to be short and sweet.

bride-father-of-groom

The Bride’s Mom

  1. It is my complete pleasure to welcome you all to my daughter’s wedding. She’s as beautiful a bride as I always knew she would be, and I wish her and Dan years of happiness.
  2. There’s never been a bride like my baby girl, and I’m so happy you all came out to see her get married. All I’ve ever wanted is for someone to love her well and respect her for the wonderful woman that she is. Sam, thank you for being that person.
  3. Welcome, everyone. My heart is bursting with pride to see my daughter here in her wedding dress, with the love of her life by her side. Thank you all for sharing this day with us.
  4. My daughter Nora is my best friend. And she’s always said that I’m hers, but I’m thrilled now to share that position with Tom. Thank you, everyone, for celebrating their beautiful union.
  5. Welcome, friends and family, to my daughter Rachel’s wedding to David. When Rachel was four, she swore up and down she’d never get married – I guess David doesn’t have cooties. Congratulations, you two. I love you both.

The Bride’s Dad

  1. Hello, everyone, and thank you all for coming. I’m Renee’s dad, and I’m proud to say that now I’m also Nick’s father-in-law. Welcome to the family, man, all the best. All the best to both of you.
  2. It is my incredible honor to welcome you all to my daughter Katherine’s wedding. Her mother and I are thrilled that you all made the trip to wish her well in her new life with John. Katherine, John, health and happiness to you both. Always.
  3. Welcome, everyone. This is a day like no other – the day my daughter marries the love of her life – and we are so happy to share it with all of you. Enjoy the day. And to the happy couple – may we all enjoy many joyful years as a family.
  4. Friends and family, thank you all for coming to see my daughter Tammy marry her new husband, Dave. You two have the kind of love that we all aspire to – tender, joyful, and respectful. May it last a lifetime.
  5. Thank you, everyone, for coming together to witness Jess’s marriage to Vincent. Jess, I remember the boy you asked to marry you when you were four, but I’m thrilled that you picked this guy instead. I love you both so much.

The Groom’s Mom

  1. I just want to take a moment to welcome Nina to our family, and to thank her family for welcoming my son into their fold so warmly. This is such a beautiful union, and I wish you both endless happiness.
  2. Today, my son marries his true love. No mother could ask for more, and no mother could ask for a better daughter-in-law. I love you both forever.
  3. Hello, everyone, I’m Jack’s mother. We’ve always been a team of two – you and me against the world, right, buddy? Well, now we welcome not only Gina but also her beautiful family onto our team, and we’re richer for it. All my love to all of you.
  4. Since the moment I first held Quentin in my arms, I wanted him to find someone who could love him as well as he deserves. I never dreamed anyone as perfect for that role as Tasha. Tash, I’m so proud to be your mother-in-law. I wish you both all the love in the world.
  5. Good evening, everyone, I am the proud mother of the groom. Sam is the first of four boys, and I love them all to death. But Amy? You’re my first daughter, forget the “in law” part, and I’m so proud to welcome you to our family. Sam, you chose well.

The Groom’s Dad

  1. A father’s job is to want the best for his son. And my son has found it. Welcome to the family, Lily. I wish you both every happiness.
  2. Last year, Tim and I lost his mom, and our family was down to three out of four. Now we’ve added a fourth, and she’s the best we could have gotten. Welcome, Olivia.
  3. Today, my son is someone’s husband. And I couldn’t be prouder. Zeke and Josh, may you always be as happy as you are today.
  4. Hi everybody, I’m Henry, Jack’s dad. You know, parents always wonder if they’ve done a good job. All I have to do is look at this good-looking groom and the wife who loves him, and I know we raised a good man. Who found a good woman. Congratulations, you two.
  5. I promised Tim that I wouldn’t embarrass him today, but I just have to tell you all how proud I am to see him up here. You clean up nice, Tim, and you’re so good to your new bride. I hope that all of your dreams come true.

A Few Words From the Couple

  1. Thank you all so much for coming today. To have so many of our friends and family here … this really is the best day of our lives. Have a wonderful time.
  2. So, most of you know that we’ve been planning this day for over a year, and we’re so happy that you’re here to share it. We couldn’t spend our first day as a married couple with a better crowd.
  3. Welcome, everyone! Thank you all for taking time out of your busy lives to come and celebrate with us. We love you, we’re glad you’re here, and we hope you have a wonderful time.
  4. If we had known that getting married would mean having almost everyone we love in one room, we would have done it sooner. Thanks for coming, and have a great time!
  5. This really is the happiest day of our lives, and most of that is because you’re all here. Really – we’re going to see each other every day for the rest of our lives, but some of you we hardly ever see. Thanks for coming!

Friends

  1. I remember the first girl that Mike ever introduced me to, in freshman year. She’s sitting next to him right now in a white dress. All the best, you guys.
  2. I work with Nancy, and I was there in the office the day after her first date with Keith. The look on her face … right then, I saw this day coming. Congratulations.
  3. As Nick’s friend, I always wanted him to find a girl who would love him like he deserves. Ginny, you’re better than I ever imagined. Best wishes to you both.
  4. Elizabeth, John … I just want to thank you both. You show all of us what love can be, and I wish you many happy years together.
  5. Patrick, buddy … you have found an amazing woman, and part of that is because you’re such a good guy. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for you two.

Funny Wedding Toasts

  1. Wow, Luke’s getting married. I remember when this guy thought girls had cooties. It’s been … what, almost a week? Congratulations, buddy.
  2. When Sam said he wanted me to give a wedding toast, I went out and bought a hundred loaves of cinnamon raisin. Turns out that’s not what he meant. Here’s to many tasty breakfasts together, man.
  3. I’m so happy to be here at Gina’s wedding. Gina, thank you for being my friend, for asking me to be a bridesmaid, and most of all, for not making me wear anything with ruffles. I love you, girl.
  4. For most of us, the world revolves around the sun. For Tim, it revolves around Kelly. Kelly, you’re way better than the sun. And you put up with me and all the rest of Tim’s friends, so we’re glad you’re sticking around.

This post was written by Compose.ly writer Laura DeCesare.