A few clinks on a champagne flute send a hush over a room of guests eager to hear the words you prepared for the bride and groom. Don’t panic! Local toastmaster Janet Pittman, of the Downtown Mobile Toastmasters, offers key tips on how to avoid wedding day jitters and give a thoughtful congratulatory speech the happy couple will always remember.
1. Handle with care.
Write out your toast, using well-crafted words that will ensure a concise delivery. Feel free to incorporate personality into the writing, but be aware of comments that could potentially embarrass the honorees. Keep in mind that a toast can be anything from a fun narrative story to an elegant poem. No matter the format, make sure the overall goal is to give quick appreciation and good luck to the couple.
2. Practice makes perfect.
The trick to making your speech flow smoothly on the big day is ample amounts of rehearsal beforehand. Test it out on a friend to get feedback. It is also important to do a run-through the day of the event. “Microphone or no, practice in the room prior to the arrival of the crowd to get a feel of the acoustics, ” Pittman says. When you rehearse, deliver the words naturally, instead of reading it from a script.
3. Relax and be bold.
Body language can make or break a good toast. Feeling comfortable is the first step toward a relaxing, natural delivery. Stand proud, be confident and speak loudly so everyone, including the guests in the back of the room, can hear you. Start by introducing yourself by your first and last name and stating your connection to the bride and groom. Then, segue directly into your toast.
4. Hold back tears.
While weddings bring out the sentimental emotions in everyone, do your best not to lose it during a toast. “Crying causes inevitable pauses which takes the attention away from your message and the honorees, ” Pittman says. Try to keep even “happy tears” to a minimum. Crying can also bring softness to the speaker’s voice, making it difficult for guests to hear what is being said.
5. Be done.
Everyone has been to a wedding in which the toasts were more like lengthy addresses. Once you start talking, it is often hard to stop. Avoid the temptation to babble, and keep it between 60 and 90 seconds. “Guests are not there to hear you speak; they are there to enjoy the celebration, ” Pittman says. When you are finished, look sincerely at the couple, raise your glass to your lips and take a sip. Then, gracefully be seated.
Text by Abby Parrott