Wedding Wednesdays Q&A: How to Give the Perfect Wedding Toast

Wedding Wednesdays Q&A by Jamie Chang Destination Wedding Planner of Mango Muse Events

Hello everyone and welcome to an all new Wedding Wednesday Q&A.  Today we’re discussing the wedding toast:  Hello, I’m not getting married, but I’m the maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding.  I know that one of my responsibilities is to give a wedding toast and I’m really nervous about it.  I love my friend, but I’m not a good writer and I just don’t want her to be disappointed.  Do you have some pointers you can share on how to write a good wedding toast?

So, I love this question, thank you for asking it!  A little-known fact about me is that I am a wedding toast snob.  Or maybe I should say a toast connoisseur.  I appreciate a good toast and as you can imagine I hear a ton of them, so I am super happy to help you because there really is an art to making a good toast.  Now, as a toast connoisseur who has heard many toasts and also given toasts, I’ve discovered that there is a formula to a good wedding toast and I’ll share it here with you today.

A good toast has 4 main parts, the story, the link, the wish and the funny factor.  Let me explain in more detail.

Part 1 – The story

Whomever is giving a wedding toast is usually closer to one side of the married couple, so that is where you start.  There are the rare toast givers that know both people equally, but most are either closer to the bride or the groom.  Now in your case, you are obviously close to the bride, so you’ll want to start with telling a story about the bride.  This is a story that usually indicates something about her personality or your memories of her or perhaps something people don’t know about her.  This story can be a tear jerker or funny or just silly, but it should mean something to you and something to her.  It also can just be one story or a combo of stories to get the point across.  Good toasts are ones where the guests learn something about the couple, so this story will help you to share that.  You should start off by just writing the story like how you would tell someone about it.  This should be able to come out of you naturally.  You will probably want to spruce it up after you initially write the whole toast, but this is your starting point.

Part 2 – The link

Now that you have a story about your friend (in your case, the bride), you want to now link it to their new husband or wife.  A good wedding toast not only talks about the person they are closest to, but their new partner. Remember that the point of the toast isn’t for you to roast someone (although many seem to think it is, especially men), this is your opportunity to share how you feel and how that connects to the bond you have and this new bond now formed.  So, what you do is you take the overarching thought in the story you just told and link that to their new marriage.  This can be in the form of another story that relates to the couple together or just takes the idea of the first story and links it to where your friend is now with their new partner.  This should now feel like you are talking about them, not just one person.  For many this can be the hard part of the toast, but I’ll give you an example at the end to help.

Part 3 – The wish

This is the part where you start wrapping things up.  You’ve told a story, linked it to the new partner and now it’s time to give your wish.  This is your chance to share your hopes and dreams and wishes with the couple.  A good wedding toast not only looks at the past but the future as well.  You want to leave the couple with a lasting impression of love.  You are sharing your love with them as they start a new life together.  Your hopes, dreams, and wishes can be whatever you want them to be, but they should be honest and true and straight from the heart.

Part 4 – The funny factor

So, people always talk about the X factor and in a toast, this is it.  The funny factor.  The best toasts have all the elements above, but also, make people laugh.  Laughter not only lightens the mood and the seriousness that toasts can bring on, but it can also make you feel less nervous too.  Bringing the funny factor can happen in your story or in the link or the wish or all three.  You don’t want it to be a yuck yuck fest, but you want to sprinkle in some of that into your wedding toast.  The toast as a whole will come out better for it, trust me.

You now have the 4 factors to a good wedding toast, but you might still be a little confused.  So, let me give you an example of how a toast could go:

Let’s say one of the defining characteristics of your friend is that she is stubborn and determined.  And you recall how you went on a trip together and how you arrived late to a museum that was closing but the bride haggled and cajoled her way in so that she could see it that day (story).   You also remember having an argument with her about how the time travel aspect worked in Harry Potter and Back to the Future and how she wouldn’t give up until you agreed with her (story and funny factor).  You then joke about how painful it has been for you to be her friend all these years, but that her stubbornness while trying also means she’s fiercely loyal to those she cares about.  She’s your rock that has always been there for you.  Then you mention how when the bride first met the groom, she liked him from the start.  They were both with other people at the time, but when he got into a fight with one of his girlfriends, she’d always stick up for him and talk about how the girl wasn’t good enough.  She was loyal to him even before they were ever together (link).  Then you say that there will be times when she just won’t budge, but you know that he’s one of those things she’ll never budge from.  And you’ve seen the how much he loves her in return like when he brought you soup when you stayed with them and were sick.  He cared for you as if you were her which showed just how much he loved her.  You’ve been so lucky to have her by your side all these years and you’re so happy she’s found a guy who can be her rock.  Then you wish them a long and happy marriage full of laugher, late museum entries, time travel arguments and lots and lots of love…and baby rocks (wish).  Then you raise your glass and say cheers!

I hope that example helps explain a bit more about the parts and how they work together. Every wedding toast will be different because every relationship, couple, and story is different, but these are the factors that make a good toast work.  Sometimes the order of what gets said switches up a bit, but in the end, you are sharing something about your friend, talking about the couple and then sharing a wish sprinkled with some funny.  If you have these parts, you’ll be golden.  Now go forth and start writing!

Bridesmaid giving a wedding toast at wedding reception by Jamie Chang destination wedding planner of Mango Muse Events.

(Photo credit: Sabine Scherer Photography)

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