November 2, 2022

How to Give an Unforgettable Wedding Speech

Speaking in front of your loved ones’ friends and family can be so nerve wracking. There’s no doubt you want to be the person who gives the most memorable toast of the evening!

A great speech can set a great tone for the rest of the evening. Not only does it honor the couple, but it also gives their wedding guests a glimpse into the couples’ lives together. As a Denver wedding photographer, I’ve seen people give really amazing toasts. (I’ve seen some not-so-great ones, too). Before you start panicking or signing up for public speaking lessons, here are a few tips to nail your wedding toast.

Keep your speeches to your closest peopleĀ 

Traditionally, the hosts, maid of honor, best man, and newlyweds themselves are the ones to take the mic throughout the evening. Of course, you can have as many people give speeches as you’d like, but keep in mind that while speeches are happening, your guests are listening to a speaker and not interacting or dancing. A couple months ago I photographed a wedding during which there were 6 speeches at once, and the final speech was 30 minutes. Their guests sat hungry in their seats and the band paced on the side of the stage (because they had to reconfigure their entire set to accommodate the longer speeches).

Many of your loved ones will want to congratulate you on your big day, but it’s best to put a limit on the number of people giving speeches so all your guests will enjoy it.

Your inside joke will probably fall flat

Telling an inside joke excludes most people at the wedding. When you start telling an inside joke, it actually signals to the audience that it’s okay to stop listening because the story isn’t about them. Once you lose the audience’s attention like that, it’s difficult getting it back. If you want to tell a joke or be funny, make sure everyone can laugh along and enjoy it.

Keep it Short and Sweet

You’ve probably not been to many weddings after which you reflected, “You know, that was a wonderful wedding, but the best man speech was just way too short!” Keep your speeches to three minutes or less. Five minutes should be the absolute maximum time for a speech. It’s important to practice your speech beforehand. The better prepared you are to give your wedding speech, the more comfortable and confident you’ll sound, you can make eye contact more often and connect with the audience, and you’re more likely to keep the speech at 3 minutes.

Talk About the Couple

You probably know one person in the couple better than the other, but it’s important that you speak to and about both people getting married when you’re giving a toast. If you talk to only one entity, you’re excluding half of the guests who might only know the other entity. It’s important to remember that on their wedding day, you and their guests are there to celebrate their marriage together, not your relationship with just one of them.

Wedding Toast TemplateĀ 

  1. Say who you are. Chances are likely a lot of people in the audience won’t know who you are yet.
  2. Thank the hosts. Whether it’s the couple who’s paid for their wedding, or one of their guests, your very first thoughts should be an expression of gratitude to whoever is hosting the event.
  3. Talk about when they met and add supporting memories. Your value as toast-maker is the first-hand memories you’ve shared with the couple. When you share about your personal experiences with the newlyweds, you’re inviting the audience into those memories and giving them another view of the couple that they might have never seen or heard before.
  4. Make it heartfelt. Don’t be afraid to tell the couple how you feel about them. If you’ve been best friends since you were kids, tell them briefly the ways they’ve influenced you. If there’s ever a time to be sappy, it’s now.
  5. Congratulate the newlyweds. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times it’s left out. This is the entire reason you’re here, so don’t forget to say a few words and well wishes for their future together.
  6. Raise your glass (and encourage guests to do the same). And, if you want to level your speech up, find a quick way to incorporate an earlier part of your speech within the toast portion. It’s a nice callback and helps wrap up your speech nicely.

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