This post is brought to you by Kayla’s husband, Daniel!
I had the honor of being chosen as best man for Chris and Angela’s wedding. I was so stoked when I found out, but I was also instantly stressed. Sure, I had to help plan a wedding and bachelor party and everything. But I also had to give . . . A TOAST!
Now, this isn’t going to be one of those posts about overcoming stage fright or some such. There are plenty of other posts that can help you with that. No, this is about a different pressure. The pressure to be good! If you happen to be known as outgoing, funny, witty, or charismatic at all, everyone starts expecting a lot out of your toast. Here are a few pointers to not let everybody down, including the people who entrusted you with a piece of their special day.
“Duh! I’m not an idiot,” you say to your computer, failing to understand that I can’t hear you as you talk to yourself. “I know that all the best wedding speeches have fun tidbits about the
groom, bride, or couple.”
But there are some common mistakes that get made when people try to get that perfect story. The worst anecdotes are inappropriate stories and inaccessible stories. The way to fix that is to use one of the most important pieces of advice for public speaking: Know your audience, and feel the room. Because even if you like jokes about various parts of the human anatomy, the room you’re in might not.
And even if you and the groom are really big Firefly fans, the majority of the wedding guests might not appreciate your recasting of Joss Whedon’s prematurely cancelled show with members of the wedding party. Tailor your anecdotes to include as much of the crowd as possible, and if you just have to tell an inside joke, bring the guests in with you. That way, everyone can enjoy your stories. If you can’t figure out how to bring them in, or explaining takes too long, it’s a bad anecdote and you shouldn’t use it.
2. Keep It Real
Now that we’ve talked about keeping it light, let’s get heavy.
While a wedding is a fun, happy, and joyous celebration, it is also a recognition of an important commitment that two people have made to each other. It’s beautiful, and beauty has a
different and deeper tone than funny. And a good toast should recognize the beauty that is there as well as the joy you feel knowing that two friends of yours are going to be happier from now on. So throw in some of the real stuff that you might not normally think about.
But don’t overdo it. Going too into the heavier stuff can seem sappy and fake. Or even, well, heavy-handed. Once again, knowing your audience is key.
3. Whose Day Is It?
I knew as soon as I came up with the idea for this post that this picture would be in it. It was just a matter of where.
Your speech is a big deal, but it’s a part of a bigger big deal. And that big deal isn’t about you. Focus on the couple, and be done relatively quickly. Sure, you can talk about your relationship with the bride, groom, and/or both, but use those stories only to help the guests get to know the bride and groom like you know them. The wedding guests aren’t really there to get to know you.
Just remember, this is for the bride and groom. The anecdotes and the romantic bits should be geared to tell the guests just how wonderful this couple really is. After all, they chose
you to give a toast!