If you're asked to give a speech at a couple's wedding, celebrate! It's an honor to be given such an important role and the gesture symbolizes a bond between you and the pair. In order to keep the good vibes going and avoid the stress, we collected insight from the experts on what it takes to make a killer toast. Here's your guide.
Tell a story.
"Take your audience on a journey," says Holly Blum, speechwriter and owner of A Speech To Remember. "Create a framework for the speech with a clear beginning, middle, and end." The contents should balance between heartfelt sentiments and laughs.
Need inspiration? Take a trip down memory lane, says Holly. Include moments in your speech that showcase your relationship with the couple, and only share anecdotes that evoke emotions and are relatable to everyone in the room. Most importantly "be yourself and keep it tasteful," adds Holly.
Practice makes perfect.
Finalize your speech and start practicing at least one week before the big day. "The best speeches are rarely delivered without careful preparation and rehearsal," says Holly. Begin by reciting your speech aloud in front of the mirror so you can see your facial expressions and hand gestures. Graduate to rehearsing in front of a few trusted friends to get a better feel for what works and what needs adjustments.
It might be nerve-wracking to get up in front of a large crowd to deliver the speech, but avoid the temptation of numbing your jitters with alcohol. "The toast-giver should remain sober to ensure a clear, articulate and non-embarrassing speech," says Jillian Stevens, director of events and catering for the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago. Jillian has worked more than 500 weddings and stresses the importance of keeping it light. "Guests want stories that are interesting and lighthearted. Avoid depressing tear jerkers."
A little theatrics goes a long way.
Entertain the audience and punch up your speech with a prop that drives home what's being said in your toast. "One father-of-the-bride had a long scroll of paper he took from his vest to reference a few 'suggestions' for his son-in-law," says Christine Picerno, event sales manager at Tigerlily Events. "The guests went wild with laughter."
Watch the clock.
And perhaps most importantly, keep your speech short in order to avoid losing the crowd. "Good speeches have a five-minute time limit," points out Holly. "No exceptions."Leave guests wanting more, not wishing for less. Time yourself in practice to ensure you have a good sense of what five minutes (or less!) feels like.
Style Me Pretty Contributor - Ximena N. Larkin is a publicist and writer who resides in Chicago with her husband and dog.