How to Write and Deliver a Killer Wedding Speech

If you have a wedding coming up that you’re in the wedding party for, chances are you’re going to get tapped on the shoulder to give a speech or toast during the reception. Or, maybe you won’t be asked specifically, but you know it’s traditional for your role to give a toast (maid of honor/best man/sister/brother, etc) and you want to do it anyway. Chances are, you aren’t a public speaker by trade and you’re wondering how the heck you’re going to pull it off. Well, you’re in the right place: this post is all about how to write and deliver a killer wedding speech!

Woman is giving a speech at a wedding; the groom and bride are looking at her and glasses are raised in a toast among the guests.
Yup, that’s me! I gave a maid of honor speech in 2018.

As a wedding photographer, I’ve witnessed dozens of speeches, and let me just say, basically all of them were amazing. So let me dissuade any fears you have about your speech right now: you’re in good company! As much as you think it may not be true, it’s pretty hard to colossally fail at giving a wedding toast. I’m going to assume you aren’t a terrible person and don’t consciously want to give a super embarrassing and cringe-worthy speech. If you have your couple’s best interests at heart and genuinely care about them — you’re gonna do great!

And if you do blunder through a sentence or a joke falls flat, well — hardly anyone will remember the mistake 60 minutes later. Pinky promise. Cause again — I’ve seen dozens of speeches. I could not tell you about any mistakes or trip-ups I might have heard in the past. I promise, no one is going to obsesses over what you should have said, so let this be the encouragement to not stress over the small missteps if they happen!

You’ve totally got this! Now, let’s get into how to write that awesome wedding speech of yours. Ready?

A dozen glasses are raised in a toast around a table at a wedding.

An outline to get you started

Here’s a couple points to let stew in your brain as you start to think about what you want to say. I would suggest starting with an outline (just like all the papers you wrote in high school!); jot down a couple ideas you want to touch on, shuffle the order until it feels right, and then expand on each point with more details.

Here’s my suggested format for a great toast:

  1. Begin by introducing yourself (remember, some people in attendance may not know who you are) and give a brief recap of how you met your person/couple.
  2. Highlight a trait the couple has together in their relationship that you admire. Or, talk about a hardship they went through and what that taught you about your own relationships.
  3. Thank everyone for coming/parents for hosting (if applicable).
  4. End with a final compliment to the couple and ask everyone to raise a glass to join you in toasting their success and happiness!

Things not to do

  1. Wing it. This might sound obvious, but at the very least I highly recommend giving your toast with a minimum of a couple bullet points, if not actual sentences. You want to stay on track and keep it concise.
  2. No put-downs, and skip the retelling of drunk/embarrassing stories (def not both together). It might seem like levity to you, but tossing out backhanded compliments/embarrassing sentiments will likely make the couple not feel good, at best — and at worst, humiliated. No one deserves to feel that on their wedding day.
  3. Include inside/dirty jokes. This might go over well if you’re attending a very small wedding where everyone knows each other, but if you’re not, I wouldn’t advise putting an inside joke into your toast. For the guests who don’t know the joke, they’ll feel left out and alienated — and you want to make everyone feel included in the experience of the toast! Dirty jokes are an obvious no. Keep it PG.

Toast delivery tips

Okay, so now that you have your toast written, here are a couple tips for actually delivering it!

  1. Speak slowly — more slowly than you think you should. Often when we’re nervous and faced with public speaking, we tend to speak really fast and kind of word vomit. Even if we try to speak at a normal rate, it’s often faster than we realize. So, focus on speaking what feels like painfully slowly for the perfect cadence. Pause between sentences for a deep breath to help you remember to slow down.
  2. Look around the room, with your eyes landing on different people on each pass. I know it’s really easy to want to keep focused on one point like when you’re trying to balance on one foot, but making eye contact with multiple guests as you speak will really elevate your toast and make you appear confident!

So there you have it friends, my literal tried and true tips to write and deliver a killer wedding speech! I got multiple compliments on the toast I made in the first photo, and I modeled all of these tips off of my speech — so you can trust that if you follow them, yours will be fabulous as well!! And if you need more tips to read, you can find those here. 😉

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