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Wedding Speeches and Wedding Toasts Made Simple

Offers information on wedding speeches and wedding toasts.

Do's and Don'ts of a Wedding Speech

•    Develop a plan and imagine objective and potential outcomes.  There is nothing worse than not knowing what you want to get out of giving your speech during a wedding.  Do you want to be funny?  Do you want to thank the caterers?  Or do you want to bring out the emotions of the wedding guests? 

Before you begin writing your wedding speech or wedding toast you need to work out what it is that you want to achieve. A rambling and unfocused speech is more likely to make you feel terrible about giving speeches and it can be difficult to listen to.  Having a plan makes the wedding speech better for both you and your listeners.

•    Form a solid structure:  You’ll want to have a solid wedding speech structure such as a beginning, middle and end to your speech.  Listeners love to hear a structured speech and the best speeches stick to this rule.  You’ll want to have a welcome in your wedding speech, a body, and a conclusion.  The conclusion of your speech can encourage a toast or blessing of some kind.

•    Saying too little is better than saying too much:  Keep your wedding speech simple and short, no longer than five to seven minutes.  A simple wedding toast is much shorter, usually 2 to 6 lines. If you don't know the difference between a wedding speech and wedding toast then see our article on wedding speeches v. wedding toasts.

•    Keep your speech positive:  Keep the content of your wedding speech on a positive note and avoid making any negative comments about previous wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, or other ‘black sheep’ family members.  Remember that the wedding reception is supposed to be a celebration and isn’t the right time to talk about uncomfortable topics.  Negative or hurtful comments can sour the mood of an entire wedding. 

•    Research your speech with personal information:  Personal stories can help you to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way. You are going to want to reflect on at least three different events that demonstrate how much your care for and love the couple. If you do not research or reflect on the couple you may end up writing a very general or vague speech.  Personalized speeches are often the most touching because they will be a true celebration of the Bridal couple.

•    Personal stories are not about you:  Keep personal anecdotes very short and use them to demonstrate a point while at the same time not making them the focus of the wedding speech and wedding toast. Let your audience visualize the moment the stories took place by creating a brief sketch rather than a detailed portrait of the story.

•    Have a strong opening and closing:  People will many times remember the opening of a wedding speech and it can make the difference between people listening to you or tuning you out.  The closing of your speech is important because it will reinforce the key message you want the audience to go away.  Ending your speech with some sort of call to action can be a powerful way to get your audience to act on your message.  In the wedding speech the call to action is easy.  All that you have to do is ask people to help you in toasting the families, wedding party, or wedding couple.

•    Avoid consuming too much alcohol before you give your speech:  You need to be alert if you are going to make a good and lasting wedding speech. Save the alcoholic celebrations until after your speech so that you don’t say or do anything silly. Being intoxicated while giving a speech makes it appear that you do not care about or respect the wedding party.

•    Make eye contact and use simple notes for recall:  Use index cards with key points if you are planning to make a longer speech. Avoid reading it directly and maintain eye contact with your audience as much as possible because it shows that you are being sincere.  Lack of eye contact is a major problem in speeches as it gives the impression that you do not care for your audience.

•    Practice and rehearse:  Practice your speech or at least get some feedback from someone you trust beforehand.  Recording and listening to your speech is the fastest way to improve your speaking skills, check for inconsistencies, and help you memorize the speech. Practicing is also one of the best ways to be polite to the audience as it shows that you care enough about your listeners to provide them with the best speech you can possibly create.

•    Don’t share too much personal information:  It is customary that some stories about the wedding couple are shared at the wedding.  In fact, in many cases, rather personal, funny, or embarrassing stories about the couple are shared.  However, you should be sure that any story that you share has not been told to you in confidence.  Remember: your goal is to make the audience feel good, not embarrassed.

•    It’s all about the Bride and Groom:  Nervous wedding speech givers will sometimes end up talking more about themselves than the wedding couple.  While it is very likely that many of the stories and reflections you know also include you, and while you are sharing your own ideas and feelings, be sure that you focus on the couple and not on your own role in their lives.

•    Pay attention to your audience:  Don’t forget that weddings are all about the guests at the receptions as well as the Bridal party. Try to avoid making off-color or questionable comments during your wedding speech and wedding toasts.  No matter how funny you think a story is make sure that it will not offend anyone before you share it with the whole room.

•    Never force a wedding speech:  Many people think that they are expected to give a very funny or a very emotional speech at a wedding even if that sort of speech isn’t their style.  If you are not funny your funny speech may seem forced or, worse, insincere.  Stick with the type of words that suit you and your sincerity will show through and be much appreciated by all.

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