Here's To You Making The Perfect Wedding Toast

by: Michael Kabel

Making the right wedding toast isn't as difficult as you might think.

Just like any other kind of public speaking, making a toast in public can seem intimidating if you're not used to it. Maybe even more so, given the significance of the event. Still, you owe it to the bride and groom and everyone else to bring off the best toast you can.

One thing going for you is that toasting isn't like public speaking in that you don't have to convince the crowd of anything. They're already on the bride and groom's side – hey, it's why they're there. That alone should relax you as you rise to make your best wishes known. Another thing is that no one's expecting poetry – in fact, it's best if you don't use poetry (more on that in minute.)

The best toasts are brief, brisk, and kept simple and without fancy ornamentation.

Write down your thoughts, not your words.

Don't expect words to come to you automatically, but don't write out the toast verbatim and then read it, robot-like, from a sheet of paper. Instead, think about what you want to say and make a brief list. When it's time to make the toast, touch on each point briefly and with spontaneity. Imagine yourself telling a story to the audience about your friendship with your toastee.

Don't try to tell jokes, and don't read a poem.

Look, there's a natural impulse to try and soften up your own nervousness by telling a few jokes beforehand. But if the jokes fall flat (and they probably will, because of your nervous delivery), it'll just give you that sinking feeling that comes with stage fright. Thank the audience for their attention and move directly into the toast.

Poems are a sweet thought, but they're not really appropriate for toasts. If you want something traditional to say, there are hundreds of pre-written toasts especially for weddings available in books and online. The poetry can be nice, but you don't want to be just nice and your toast might just as well come off awkward or overreaching.

Don't hold your glass up the whole time.

You'll look like the Statue of Liberty – a symbol of our great nation, sure, but a statue nonetheless.

Speak in a clear, consistent voice.

This one can be tough for toasters with a fear of public speaking. If you find yourself tensing up, relax and remember no one is there to judge you. You can even launch a pre-emptive strike against tension by…

Rehearsing ahead of time.

Practice the toast several times in your hotel room or even in the banquet dining room itself, going over your ideas and trying out different ways to say them.

Wrap up the toast quickly and with dignity.

Don't tease the groom or congratulate the bride, and don't try to make jokes. Speak simply, and with confidence in your words. Conclude your remarks, raise your glass, and invite everyone else to join you in toasting the new marriage. Drink only a brief sip and then sit down.