As wedding filmmakers who like to tell a couple’s story, the wedding toasts at the reception play a vital role in our filmmaking process. When we reach out to our photographer friends to talk about an upcoming wedding together, the toasts are the one item we highlight as important to us. We take pride in filming them with good lighting and great sound quality, as we know that it makes our Boston wedding films stand out. Making them look and sound good is our job, but saying the right things is traditionally up to the Father of the Bride, Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor. So here are some tips to sounding good and making the best of your time in the wedding spotlight.
The best length for speeches tends to be about 2-3 minutes. I honestly believe a well-spoken father of the bride can extend their speech to 3-5 minutes in an engaging manner. But, at the end of the day, the reception is about eating, drinking and dancing. Therefore, speeches that carry on for too long (especially multiple speeches) only cut into the fun part of the evening. On the flip side, 30-second speeches add little the night’s festivities. If you have been selected to speak on behalf of the bride or groom, you have enough knowledge and background to talk for at least 90 seconds.
It’s Not About You
One of the biggest reasons speeches carry on too long is that speakers talk too much about their relationship with the bride and groom. Opening up a speech with your connection to them is a great way to start, but telling multiple stories about every part of your relationship is a way to lose the audience’s interest. Telling one story that exposes the great character traits of the bride or groom has to offer is a great way to show your connection with them. Remember, it’s a toast, not a roast. Save the long stories and razzing of your friend for the bachelor/bachelorette party or rehearsal dinner where the audience is smaller and more connected to the couple.
The Most Important Part of the Speech
All great speeches turn the focus onto the couple. That is what the wedding day is all about! We all have a story about the couple. Most often it was when they first met, or the first time you heard about their new boyfriend or girlfriend. There is always that ah-ha moment. Tell the audience about it. And, then talk about why you think the couple works so well together. It’s the feel-good moment of the night. Own it!
Opening and Closing
How do you start and how do you end your toast? That is the easy part. To start, simply introduce yourself. Secondly, it is a respectful gesture to thanks the parents of the couple for the wedding itself and rehearsal dinner, as most often, parents pay for much of the wedding.
To end a good speech, simply toasts the couple. It could be as simple as asking everyone to raise their glass (don’t forget this part) and wishing them a happy, healthy life together. To take it up a notch, connect your ending to the couple. For example, for an Irish Bride, end with an Irish Blessing. For a brother or sister, quote a respected family member.
Write Down Your Plan
There are two ways to approach the speech. The first is to write it out your speech completely, so that each thought is well thought out and delivered to your satisfaction. For others, reading word for word will cramp their style. If you are this type of person, do not wing it! Simply, just make an index card with a list of topics for each part of the toast. Each part of the speech can be delivered off the cuff, but have a plan in place. Then, you won’t forget to thank the parents when you get a touch nervous.
That’s the basics. Two to three solid minutes of content and you’ll be getting congratulations throughout the night. Do you need a template? I love the DIY wedding toast template Malcolm Fraser gives in his article for Huffington Post. And, one last tip, take a deep breathe as you get to the microphone. It will pay big dividends. Cheers!