A Gentleman’s Guide to the Wedding Toast
The wedding toast. A time for tears, a time for laughter… a time when that drunk cousin is given a microphone and free rein to ruin a lovely evening. To ensure you’re not that cousin, our team of glass-raising aficionados has laid out some tips. Standing ovation not included.
Now, if we could have everyone’s attention for a moment…
Yes, you should write it out.
You could go off the cuff. Or you could take the time to write the Gettysburg Address of contractual love. Grab a pen. Grab a notepad. Grab some Baileys for your coffee and scribble down every memorable moment you’ve ever shared with the two lovebirds: from first grade with the groom to the last Pinterest post by the bride. Think hard. Then take out the 85% that’s boring or not mother-in-law friendly.
If you win the first 45 seconds, you win the speech.
Don’t start by recycling bad wedding jokes—no comparing the length of your speech to the length of the honeymoon night. The best joke is seemingly irrelevant and self-deprecating. But if after some thought, the best you’ve got is a comparison between the length of the speech and the night of the honeymoon, cut to the chase. Comedy is not in you.
Stick to the script.
The formula is simple: explain who you are, tell an insightful story about the person who invited you, say something sweet about their future spouse, thank people like you just won an Oscar and then try to sum the whole thing up with something sweet or hilarious. Please make sure any story you tell has a setup, a payoff and—most importantly—a point.
Be true to your relationship.
If you guys are nerdy and bookish, make your speech nerdy and bookish. If you met during the hardest of partying, go there. Be genuine, be real and be unafraid to toe the line of wedding inappropriateness. But don’t cross it.
It’s okay to play nice.
A lot of wedding speeches turn into a roast with lines like “I can’t believe a beautiful girl like Sandra is marrying this ogre.” It’s funny to do a little of that… but keep it light. The better move: raise the couple up and use yourself as the butt of the joke. After all, they might be toasting you one day.
The significant other is… significant.
About 25% of the speech needs to be dedicated to the significant other of your friend. The wedding is about two people, not one. Plus, that significant person’s dad is probably paying for the gin libation in your hand.
Leave a lasting impression.
Sum up your toast with a point that ties everything together. Example: “In closing, Katie is truly the heart that inspires Jeff. So if I can offer any advice to my friend, it’s to always follow your heart.” And yes, a little bit of cheesiness is okay. This is a wedding, after all.
Dropping the mic is optional.
Now go back and cut your speech in half.
- — Jim Huffman