Whether you’re the best man, maid of honour, a parent, or anyone who’s been asked to give a toast during a couple’s reception, the thought of standing up in front of all those people can definitely be a little, and even a lot, stressful! It’s not so different from writing wedding vows - you want to make the couple feel special, while thinking about the audience too. So whether it’s stage fright or writer’s block that has you feeling unsure of what to do, this guide is all about how to write a wedding speech, and tips for giving the toast on the big day!
How to Write a Wedding Speech
Unless you’ve got years of experience practicing your improv, you probably don’t want to be up there on the couple’s big day and wing your wedding speech - there’s some preparation involved! Here are some tips for how to write a wedding speech.
Talk About Both People
There’s probably one person in the couple that you’re closer to - maybe one of them is your childhood best friend, college roommate, sister…. So while a good wedding speech can definitely start out with some memories or stories with that person, make sure to include the other partner too! Think about the first time you met them - what was your first impression, did you know the two of them were perfect for one another right away, was there a funny story about getting to know them as a couple? Brainstorm some ideas that include both people, and talk about the two of them!
Think of Your Wedding Speech Like a Story
There will be a lot of people listening to you give the wedding speech - and people like stories! Think of your speech as a story you’re telling, with a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning might be when you knew one person in the couple and how you became friends or grew close. The middle could be when that loved one met the person they’re marrying and how you felt seeing them together, or some stories about the two of them! Then, the end of your speech can include some well wishes for the couple and some final thoughts to finish the toast. And of course, inviting everyone to raise their glasses!
Schedule Some Time to Write Your Wedding Speech
Ideas might pop into your head anytime, but it can be really helpful to be intentional in setting aside time to write your wedding speech. Life gets busy, and it can be really easy to fill your Notes app with random ideas that come to mind while you’re at work, but when it comes to actually writing everything down, having a set block of time where you’re not doing anything but working on the speech can really help you get in the zone.
Put away your phone (it’s really distracting! And writing with pen and paper stimulates creativity), and sit down to work on your toast. Even if the ideas don’t start flowing right away, don’t give up - let your mind wander and resist the temptation to move onto something else.
Brainstorm Before Writing Your Wedding Speech
It’s really hard to dive right into the speech! Before you start, it can be helpful to just write down ideas. Anything that comes to mind, write it down! Make a list, including everything from stories you remember, funny moments, and anything that you think could go in the wedding speech. You’ll put it all together later!
This one can honestly be easier said than done, but when it comes to how to write a wedding speech, you have to just write it. Once you’ve brainstormed some ideas, put them into sentences and paragraphs. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sound good or if you’re not feeling confident - getting anything onto that page is better than nothing, and you’ll edit it later! As you keep going, you’ll get more ideas and things will start to come together.
How to Give a Wedding Speech
Writing the speech is part of the challenge, but then you have to actually give it! Here are some tips for how to give a wedding speech to make your toast memorable.
Practice Your Wedding Speech
Don’t let the first time you’re reading your wedding speech be on the wedding day, in front of 100 people. Practice it beforehand, ideally a few times! Don’t save this for the morning of the wedding - do it at least a few days earlier so that you can edit it and make changes if needed, without feeling too much pressure.
Read your speech out loud - sometimes things sound different when spoken out loud as opposed to just reading them! Ideally, you should read your wedding speech to someone else, but even just reading aloud to yourself is helpful.
Write It on Paper
Even if you wrote your speech on your phone, I really recommend transferring it over to a piece of paper, or even just printing it out. In photos, and in real life, it looks much nicer to read from a piece of paper than to hold your phone!
Keep Drinks to a Minimum
There’s nothing wrong with a little self-medicating if you’re feeling nervous about giving your wedding speech, but don’t overdo it! A glass of champagne might help you loosen up, but drink too much and you might find yourself having a hard time getting the words out. Know your limits, and save the heavy partying for after your speech is over!
Address the Couple
The couple is the reason you’re giving this speech, and one (or both) of them is probably someone you’re really close to - so if you’re nervous, it can be helpful to look at the couple instead of the audience, and to really make it feel like you’re just talking to them. Of course, the guests are important too - so listen to make sure you pause long enough for laughter and things like that, but remember that you’re doing this for the couple!
And the final tip for how to give a wedding speech is just to be yourself. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to deliver perfect lines or to make everyone laugh. You aren’t there to put on a show or a performance, you’re there because the couple loves you and wants you to share your perspective! As long as your toast is heartfelt and authentic, they’ll absolutely love it.
As a seasoned wedding photographer and videographer, I have heard a few speeches in my career! If you need help planning your wedding day timeline to fit speeches in to your coverage I can absolutely help you with that. Just get in touch!