Have you been asked to give a wedding speech? Speaking on the occasion of a wedding is a distinct honor and privilege, and it’s understandable that you want to do it right. Unfortunately, many people get quite nervous when it comes to speaking in public, and some have a difficult time putting their thoughts in order when it comes to public presentations.
As an ordained pastor, I’ve had lots of experience with weddings. And with this article, I want to provide you with a few tips that will help you make a good wedding speech or toast.
- Know that EVERYONE wants you to succeed. The bride and groom are on your side – as are all the attendees. Chances are, you’re among friends and family — people who know, like, and appreciate you. They’re also wanting you to succeed with your speech for selfish reasons. No one likes to sit through a boring talk. They want you to make a good wedding speech or toast, so they can enjoy themselves. And even if there are a handful of people in the room who may not be among your fans, they still have common ground with you when it comes to the purpose of your remarks — and that is to help make the day more special for the bride and groom. That’s right, everyone wants you to do a good job. They’re rooting for you. Rather than make you nervous, this should give you confidence. The audience supports you.
- Focus on your mission. Obviously, you should take a look in the mirror before speaking. Make sure your hair isn’t sticking up, you don’t have food in your teeth, or you’re not ready to manifest an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. All that is fine, but… As quickly as possible, get the focus off yourself and on your mission. The less you think about yourself, the less nervous you will be. The reason people fear public speaking is that they’re focused on what people (namely the audience) will think about them. Again, see #1 above. People want you to succeed. So, as quickly as possible, get your mind off yourself and focus on your mission, which is… Make the bride and groom look and feel good. You want to help make their day more special. If you want to give them a tiny bit of wisdom or advice…that’s fine, but the best time to do that is in private….and frankly before the Wedding Day (when they have time to focus on the conversation). The purpose of a wedding toast or speech is NOT to provide marriage counseling. The purpose is to make the bride and groom feel good. Make them laugh. Make them smile. Make them feel good. In so doing…you’ll make everyone else feel good too. And you’ll succeed!
- Have a general outline in mind (or on paper). Unless you’re a great orator or at least a very experienced public speaker, it’s not a good idea to “wing” it. Yes, you want to speak from the heart, but that doesn’t mean rambling your way to a point. Preparation doesn’t take away from heart-felt remarks. Preparation enhances heart-felt remarks. You don’t have to write out your entire speech, but you should at least write out a general outline of what you want to say. Know your key points, jokes, etc. before you stand up and start talking. Most people think in terms of three points, so a 3-point outline is a good place to start. Think in terms of a Greeting (to get everyone’s attention), and then 3 points you want to make about the bride and/or groom, and then your Conclusion (which is your toast or whatever is appropriate for that particular wedding).
- Keep it fun. A little seriousness is okay, but again, don’t use a wedding speech or toast to pontificate on world events, show off your knowledge about life and relationships, or give the wedding party lots of marital advice. The only person who should be doing that on the Wedding Day is the minister. Your job is to keep things light and fun — and, again, to make the bride and groom feel good. So, keep it fun.
- Keep it brief. As a pastor, I’ve officiated many weddings and been to many receptions. Wedding speeches are usually brief — and the audience is usually very appreciative of that. Don’t launch into a 10-minute oration. Your remarks should be 30 seconds to a minute. No more than 2 minutes. The only exception to this is if the bride or groom specifically ask you to speak longer than that.
There you go! Follow the above tips and you’ll be on your way to giving an effective wedding speech or toast. And if you’d like my help, you can contact me through Fiverr where I offer to help people compose wedding speeches.
Best wishes to you – and enjoy the wedding!