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Keys to a Great Toast

Raising a glass at a wedding is an opportunity to make a great impression, or fall flat on your face. Here are the keys to a great toast.


People have been toasting one another for centuries. That might make it feel nearly impossible to stand out when you’re asked, as the maid of honor or best man, to deliver the perfect post-ceremonial speech. Some get nervous and freeze up, while others might be prone to saying the wrong thing. It’s important to relax in the knowledge that you were selected because of the important role you’ve played in their lives. You’re among friends.


This toast will be made among all of the most important people in this couple’s lives, including older family members, lifelong friends, and coworkers. The message is meant to offer words of encouragement as they make the transition into married life. The best way to meet that standard is to avoid off-color remarks or jokes, and vulgarities of any kind. If alcohol is being served as the reception, know your limits. Drinking tends to lower inhibitions, and that can lead to slips of the tongue.


Once you’ve resolved not to embarrass yourself or your newly married friends, keep in mind what you’ve been asked to do: Make a brief speech. The accent is on brief. They’ve already had a momentous day, and their schedule likely still includes several traditional benchmarks like the father/daughter dance. Ask the couple how long they’re allotting for toasts. If they leave the decision up to you, aim for three to five minutes. Anything longer than that, and you’re liable to lose the gathered crowd’s interest anyway. Anything less and they may feel that you didn’t care enough to properly prepare.


Humor can be a great icebreaker, and everybody wants to keep the laughter going at joyous occasions. But be picky about what you discuss in a toast. The best examples of these speeches are met with a mixture of smiles and tears, as you balance humor with more personal anecdotes. Whatever you do, avoid embarrassing stories — in particular about past relationships. This isn’t the time or place for a trip down that particular memory lane.

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