How to Write an LDS Wedding Speech or Toast
So you’ve been asked to give a speech at your friend’s, sibling’s, or child’s wedding reception? The good news is, you’ll have had lots of practice from giving talks in church. A good speech is like a good sacrament meeting talk: open with an interesting anecdote or joke, throw in a few related quotes or verses, and be heartfelt. A wedding reception speech is simply shorter than a church talk and ends with a toast instead of “amen.”
When you’re first asked to give a wedding toast, ask the bride and groom to clarify their expectations. Is it just a toast, or a 3-5 minute speech followed by a toast? How many people will be speaking before and after you? Will someone introduce you or do you just grab the mic and start talking? These are all the particulars you need to get before you can start writing.
Decide whether your speech is going to be mainly sentimental or mainly humorous. Take your cues from the bride and groom. If they are always joking then they’ll probably appreciate a laugh on their wedding day. If they are the silent, serious type then you might get nothing but crickets in response to what you thought was a hilarious joke.
Once you know whether you’re aiming for a speech that’s silly or sweet, you’re ready to start writing. The four ingredients to a perfect wedding reception speech and toast are:
#1: The Attention Grabber
This is often a joke, but if it feels forced then you don’t have to say something to get a laugh. Take a cue from the primary lesson manuals at church and start with some sort of object lesson – don’t be afraid to bring in an object!
Or you can simply start with an engaging personal story. If you’re the groom’s mother you relate an amusing incident from his childhood; if you’re the maid of honor you can share an adventure you had with the bride when you were roommates in college.
Other topics might be a favorite sport or hobby of the bride, a significant event or achievement in the life of the groom, or something the bride/groom once said that you will always remember.
#2: The Introduction
When giving a wedding toast or speech, it’s essential that you introduce yourself. Just a brief, “I’m Ashley, the maid of honor, and I’ve been friends with Britta [the bride] since junior high” or “My name is Robert Buckely, Pete’s [the groom’s] father” is plenty.
It doesn’t have to be long, but you need to say who you are and what your relationship is to the bride and/or groom. Most of the groom’s extended family will not know the bride’s family, and vice versa.
#3: The Quote, Poem, Advice, or Thought
Even though wedding speeches are brief, it’s a good idea to break it up by throwing in some sage words from somebody older, wiser, or more famous.
Find a relevant quote on love or happiness. Read a scripture or paraphrase a general authority about marriage. Share some marital advice from your grandparents, or read a poem that captures the essence of what you want to say.
The perfect wedding speech is one that sounds like you
#4: The Toast
Finally, share your good wishes for the happy couple. It’s appropriate to thank the bride and groom’s parents, and include a “toasting signal” to tell the guests when you’re done. It could be just raising your glass high so the crowd does the same, or you can use such toasts as:
• Join me in toasting…
• Please raise your glasses to…
• Here’s to…
• A toast to…
• In honor of…
• Best wishes to…
If you’re not toasting, make sure to conclude your speech on a strong and definite note. If you just sort of trail off, it will be awkward.
Other Tips for Writing and Delivering a Wedding Speech
The perfect wedding speech is one that sounds like you. Don’t feel like you need to put on a false voice to give a good speech. Wedding speeches can be flowery and polished, or short and sweet, or anything in between.
Focus on the couple.
Despite the fact that you are giving the speech, it’s not about how witty, deep, or interesting you are. Only share personal stories that tell guests something about the bride and/or groom, and don’t make yourself the center of attention.
Even if you think you’ve got your speech memorized, jot down some notes to have with you on the big day. They’ll keep you on track and help you remember what to say if you get a sudden attack of nerves.
Practice out loud.
Don’t just rehearse in your head. Practice your speech out loud several dozen times before the wedding day, concentrating on delivering fluidly with a confident voice and eliminating “um”s and “uh”s. Try to vary your pitch and avoid monotone.
Practice in the mirror.
When giving your speech, stand in front of a mirror and watch your body language. Use purposeful hand gestures, but don’t fidget. If you are fidgety, putting your hands in your pockets or holding your glass in your hand while you give the speech at the reception may help.
Don’t roast the bride or groom.
It’s okay to lightly poke fun of the bride or groom– as long as you’re sure they’ll take it in fun and you end on a positive note. Whatever you do, don’t think that you can roast the bride because you’re close with the groom, or vice-versa. Only poke fun at the half of the couple you know best.
Good luck writing and giving your LDS wedding speech or toast! Use these guidelines and spend ample time preparing. Remember that practice makes perfect and just speak from your heart.
♥ Jenny Evans
Exclusively for WeddingLDS.com.
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