As a wedding photographer I’ve seen and heard a lot of wedding toasts and speeches in my time. Some good, some bad and a few that were exceptional. So I definitely think I’m pretty well placed to give a few tips and advice on how to deliver a great wedding toast. I previously posted about when to do the wedding speeches, but here I’ll tell you more about wedding toasts and how to deliver them.
History of Wedding Toasts
It’s been argued that wedding toasts date all the way back to the 6th century BC. Glasses would be raised and clinked – causing the contents to spill into one another’s vessels, a reassurance that the drink wasn’t poisoned. This is most probably what the phrase “good health” comes from.
The wedding link would come from the old tradition of warring tribes and conflicts being ended by marriages between clans – and thus toasting was then a reassurance of peace on all sides.
The term ‘toast’ itself was first coined by Shakespeare in the Merry Wives of Windsor. It was common practice around this time for a piece of actual toast to be placed in a glass of wine, as a way of of soaking up acidity of the win and making an old piece of stale bread more edible. The person(s) being honoured would often receive the saturated piece of toast. Thankfully, this seems to be a tradition that is no longer undertaken during modern weddings, but the idea of wedding toasts still prevail to this day.
So how to ensure you get a wedding toast right? Here are my 10 tips to help with you wedding toast.
#1 Be Topped Up
Make sure you glass is full and that the wedding party all have their glasses topped up. This may sound obvious, but you be amazed the number of weddings I’ve been too where a bride, a groom or even the toaster doesn’t have a filled glass to toast with – then everyone has to wait around whilst a bottle to top up with is found.
#2 Be Right…Quite Literally
Ensure you toast using your right hand, which you should be stretched out from the right shoulder towards the person(s) being honoured. Dont over extend your arm though – nothing looks worse than a trembling arm and contents being spilt.
#3 Short & Sweet
Keep the toast short. 3-5 minutes is considered a good length if you’re delivering a speech. Anything longer can start to sound a bit too rambling and guests quickly get bored and fidgety.
That’s right, practice really does really make perfect. Run it out a few times before the day, preferably to someone who can tell you what they think. The more used to it you are, the much smoother it will be done on the day.
Make some notes – preferably a few bullet points you can talk around, rather than a number of pages of a word-by-word script. You’ll sound a lot more natural and what’s more, watching someone read from a script, in an awkward monotone, can be quite boring for everyone. This follows on naturally to…
#6 Be You
It’s much better to be yourself, rather than what you think you need to be. If you’re not an extrovert joker or an insightful poet, then don’t pretend to be. At a wedding everyone is on your side, so be yourself and be personal.
#7 It’s Not All About You
Remember, the wedding toast or speech is not all about you – it’s about honouring someone. It’s not an audition for Britian’s Got Talent or an opportunity for you to show how really funny you think you area. Focus on who you are honouring.
#8 The Granny Test
You should really steer away from inside jokes or stuff that happened twenty years ago when you were kids. It might be really funny for a few close friends or relatives, but for the vast majority of guests they’re just not going to get it. And speaking of humour, remember guests could include young children and elderly relatives. Whilst your joke about the razor, the sheep and the naked groom on the stag night is hilarious, is it something you would ordinarily tell your grandmother? If not, leave it out.
Yes, before you start just take a deep breath. It will slow you down and calm your nerves. If you’re not used to speaking in front of people, you’ll often speak faster than you realise you are – so try and slow it down. It’s not a sprint to be finished as soon as possible.
#10 Make The Toast!
And remember at the end of toast, get everyone to join in with you raising a glass to and toasting the honoured person(s). It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen a wedding speech where the actual toast is forogtten about in the relief of ending the speech! Remember, the final toast is the traditional way of ending the formal part of the wedding day and signaling the fun, party bit is about to start!
So I hope these tips help you. The wedding toast is an important and traditional part of the wedding day so appreciating why you are doing it and getting it as right as possible will be appreciated by the couple.
If you’d like to chat with me about your wedding plans then I’d love to hear from you. You can call/text me on 07920 422144. Alternatively, you can send me a message via my contact page.