Approximately 10% of the population loves the idea of public speaking. The other 90% is spread between feelings that range from slight anxiety to abject terror. On a day that's as important and memorable as a wedding day, it's easy to understand why so many people struggle with their speech for the groom at dinner.
If you find yourself in a position where you're called upon to speak at a friend's wedding, the best defense against anxiety is to write a brilliant toast. Fortunately, you don't have to be a professional writer to accomplish this. You'll just need to follow a few simple guidelines.
Choose A Theme First
In an attempt to be humorous and relevant, many aspiring toast writers focus on amusing anecdotes drawn from their life with the groom. Humor is an important tool for a wedding toast, and you should use it liberally in your writing. However, if you don't have a goal in mind for the toast, the entire affair can seem rambling and incoherent.
Instead, focus on what you'd like the audience to take away from the toast. Some common themes include:
- The groom has finally settled down
- He's never been the same since he met his new wife
- Character is the groom's strong suit
- He'll be the best husband anyone could ever imagine
You'll notice these are all positive themes. That's important. While it's traditional to rib the groom a bit in the toast, you want the takeaway to be what an awesome guy he is. After all, most of the people in the room care deeply about the guy. If you keep the theme positive, you can't really go wrong in this setting.
Address The Wife Directly
It's easy, when talking about a long-time friend, to get caught up in your personal relationship. While you might feel like these details are both interesting and relevant to the wedding guests, they probably aren't. The easiest way to avoid this is to spend some time talking directly to the new bride about her man.
In fact, if you don't have a different idea that executes your intention more effectively, consider framing the entire toast as a conversation with the bride--with occasional asides to the rest of the audience. This will keep the focus on the bride, which is always a good idea in a wedding scenario. It will also help you determine which details are important and which are just poor attempts at comedy.
Be Sure To Include Courtesy Statements
While a wedding is about the bride and groom joining their lives, the occasion marks an important time in an entire family's life. As such, your toast should reflect the importance and weight of the situation--even if the mood is celebratory. The easiest way to do this is to be polite and thank your hosts.
If you've been a friend of the groom's for some time, you probably know them well. However, you may not know the bride's family at all. Learn their names beforehand and thank them directly at the beginning of the toast. There's no need to draw this out, but a simple "thank you" and a comment or two on how wonderful the party is will go a long way.
Keep It Short
No matter how endearing and entertaining you can manage to be, people are going to fixate on the bride and groom. It's their day, after all. That means that the most successful toasts are often the shortest. You'll want to keep the focus on the stars and see yourself as helping them shine in a slightly different way through your toast.
As a rule, this means your toast shouldn't go past 5 minutes. In fact, shooting for 3 minutes is a great idea. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, speakers will take longer than they expected. If you plan for 3 minutes, you won't end up running terribly long on the big day.
That's really all there is to it. If you keep the tone light-hearted, the jokes clean, and the run time short, you won't have any trouble adding a personal touch to the most important day in your friend's life. Contact the wedding venue for more information and tips.