How to Make a Great Toast
So you have to MAKE A TOAST...
Congratulations! You’ve been chosen by the bride and groom to make a toast at their wedding reception. It’s truly an honor and a privilege and it shows how much you mean to them. This might be a little bit intimidating right now but don’t worry, in this guide we’ll help you avoid some major pitfalls and guarantee that you'll totally rock this!
Get off to a good start
Introduce yourself (briefly)
Thank your hosts and friends
Make a few comments on the specialness and significance of this day
Launch into a story
tell a great story
A story will engage the audience and take them on a journey of emotions. You may think it’s all about being a great performer, but the most important thing is simply to choose the right story. The best stories for wedding toasts usually fit one of the following archetypes:
Character Story - This story shows off an admirable character trait of your friend (e.g. generous, reliable, loyal, compassionate). If you choose this story form you will have to make sure you also take time to talk about your friend’s partner.
Transformation Story - This story reveals the positive effect your friend’s partner has had on them. It’s one of the highest compliments you can give to their partner, and one of the greatest affirmations you can give to your friend.
Cuteness Story - This story shows why the bride and groom are perfect for each other, highlighting how they are both different and the same and ultimately a great match.
Once you’ve chosen which kind of story or stories you want to tell, you just have to sketch out the 3 major plot points of each. Here is an example beginning, middle, and ending for each story type:
This is a great place to put your jokes before you transition to a heart-warming middle and ending.
"Some of you may know that Tom and I went to law school together, but what you may not know is…"
"Before Tom met Christina, he was handsome but hopeless..."
"When Christina first met Tom, she thought he was cute but obnoxious..."
This is where your friend becomes the hero. This is where the main point of your story goes and also where you give most of your compliments.
"When I needed help, Tom was there for me. I admire him because..."
"When Tom met Christina his best qualities really started to shine..."
"He finally won her over when he proved how much he cared about her by…"
This is where you bring it home and connect everything back to the wedding day, and leave everyone with a great feeling of joy and love.
"And that’s why Tom is such a great guy, and will be a great husband to Christina."
"And that’s how Christina helped Tom become who he is today, and why she’s absolutely perfect for him."
"And that’s why they’re perfect for each other and will be so happy together forever."
How to be funny in a good way
It can be funny to tease your best friend or sibling for one of their more dominant personality traits (e.g. very orderly, intense personality, very shy, overachiever) as long as you eventually express why it is also a strength and what makes them endearing and special.
Tell a funny story about how the couple met or started dating, giving a back story or a side that not everyone knows.
How to avoid crossing “the line”
You can tease your friend, but be careful of teasing their partner too much. Be very cautious of teasing the bride if you are a groomsman. For some reason, it’s not as cute as a bridesmaid who teases the groom.
Don’t start any story you don’t intend to finish, for example: “That one time in Tijuana that we agreed never to talk about...”
Be careful making fun of anyone’s appearance or insecurities.
Should I give some marriage advice?
Sure! Maybe advice is a strong word, but “words of wisdom” are a really nice conclusion to a toast.
If you have marriage experience, by all means share what you’ve learned in a concise statement that tells the couple how to love each other well.
If you don't have marriage experience, try to point out a strength that you’ve observed in the couple and remind them to continue that over the long haul. If you can pair this observation with an age-old quote or adage you can really bring it home.
Common pitfalls of bad TOASTS:
You only talk about the good old days with your friend and you make almost no mention of their relationship or their partner.
The story doesn’t say anything about your friend’s character.
You tell an embarrassing story that crosses the line or doesn't have a redemptive aspect at the end.
You are the star of the story rather than your friend.
Your story is too long and everyone starts thinking about dinner.
Your story doesn’t make sense to everyone, because “you just had to be there...”
Again, you fail to make it about THE COUPLE, and it's too one-sided. This is worth repeating because it is the most common mistake even for the very well-intentioned.
Things you shouldn’t worry about:
Whether or not you’re going to cry. If it happens, it’s not a bad thing. It's actually really sweet. You can pause if you need to, take a deep breath, and continue when you're ready.
What everyone thinks of your speaking abilities. Everyone is rooting for you because they love the bride and groom and you just have to remind them of why. They're not handing out any awards at the end of the night.
Forgetting what you wanted to say. Type out some notes and print them, that way you can always read it or you have the option to improvise. Also, email it to yourself so if you lose your paper you can always read it off of your phone. Paper is better for video and photos, though. It's also easier to read.
Ask everyone to raise their glasses to the couple
Say your most heartfelt wishes for the couple's shared future
Belt out your cheers-word of choice (e.g. "Cheers!", "L'Chaim!", "Na Zdorovie!")
Hug the bride and groom and high-fives all around!
You've got this!
Thanks for taking the time to read this little guide! Now that you're feeling inspired and confident it's a great a time to jot down some quick notes in your phone while your thinking about it. Good luck! We're looking forward to hearing what you have to share!