Take Time to PrepareGetting up to give your speech and holding up a piece of toast and looking confused sounds more hilarious than it actually is. Be prepared and don’t wing it. Put some thought and effort into preparing a short 2-4 min speech.
As soon as you know you’re going to give a toast, take the time to brainstorm a bunch of memories about the groom and his bride. Write it a notepad or type it up. When you have some more free time revisit what you wrote, add, and look for consistent themes and stories. Try to find funny ones, but don't worry if they don't appear that way at first. With effort and some right phrasing, you can make almost anything funny.
Get started now! This may sound like a lot of work, but I promise it’ll pay off. I always try and write the first drafts of toasts I give several months in advance. It takes time, but you only get to do it once, so make it worthwhile.
But what if I don’t have much time left? Never fear! Take about ten to fifteen minutes to succinctly list all of your best memories of the couple. Now go back through and look for themes. Here are a few questions that might help different memories or stories pop out:
- Who introduced you to the bride and groom? Who is involved in your stories?
- Where did your memories form? Personalities change? Adventures happen? Life-lessons take place? Did the bride and groom meet?
- When did your stories happen? In your childhood? In your teens? Elementary-school? High-school? College? Business trip? Last year?
- When did the couple meet? Were you involved with the process? The confirmation of feelings? Did you realize they were serious?
- What do you remember the most from spending time with the bride or groom or both of them?
- What were they like when nobody was looking? First impressions?
- Why do you like them? Love them? Want to be like them? Think they’re crazy? Think they’re lovely? Feel happy around them? Think God will use this marriage for good?
- How has the bride or groom influenced your life? Dreams? Aspirations? Life-insurance policy? Humor? Worldview?
Purpose & PointAsk yourself what you want the couple and audience to hear from this toast. What is its goal or objective? Take all your themes and stories and form them into a concise purpose statement. Your purpose could be something like this: “I want the couple to realize that they should hold onto God the same way they hold onto each other. Tightly!” or “I want them to have an attitude of mutual submission to each other and this funny story really illustrates how deferring to the other made us better friends” or “I want them to realize that God will use their marriage to make them more like Jesus.”
Once you have your purpose, write out a single sentence that summarizes your lesson or point. Make sure it has a subject, very, and direct object (i.e., Jesus loves marriage). One of the ones I used recently was, “God uses all of live, especially marriage, to make us more like Christ.” It could also be something like, “I will always remember how your love was one of inclusion instead of exclusion” or “God always knows what you need even when you don’t, so trust in him.”
Once you have a purpose and point and some stories and themes running through your head, make an outline.
4 Steps to Outline SuccessIntroduction: Spark their interest and create a desire in them to keep listening!
Funny Story: Here’s your time to shine with some funny historically based tidbits. Although you may just be the best man, try and say something positive about the bride as well. Make it about both of them!
Connect To Christ: This is the part where you turn the funny story into a lesson about God’s work in your life through the individual. Introduce your main point here!
End With Encouragement: Finish with an exhortation to continue honoring God with their new marriage and repeat the main point if it sounds right (repetition will help them remember).
1. Attention-Grabbing IntroductionSet the scene, but grab your audience’s attention. Start with something that will get their attention but also won’t be too difficult for you to remember off the top of your head. Something like this could work: “I remember when…” or “The first time I ever saw…” or “I can’t believe…” or “You wouldn’t recognize…” or “Why did he…”
Then give some background information, but just enough for us to understand the story or your relationship to the bride, groom, or couple. The best books jump right into the action and paint us a picture. Show, don’t tell!
Feel free to address the couple directly or to address the audience. However, remember that the wedding is about them and God! So if you address them throughout the speech everyone else will naturally listen in and learn something along the way.
2. Humorous TalesThere are several things you want to keep in mind as you come up with funny stories to tell about the bride, groom, or spouse. Keep it appropriate. Insert punch lines. Keep it light-hearted.
Awkward can be funny or just plain awkward. Try to balance the toast between funny humor and slightly embarrassing humor. Now, you’re going to know the bride or groom better than I will, so it’s very important you don’t overstep your bounds. But we also want to let everyone know that these are just two humans getting married, and what better way to reveal that than showing us the bloopers and deleted scenes you personally experienced with one or both of them. Just don’t talk about the first time you two did something illegal, immoral, or that will make your aunt squirm.
Punch-lines: A punch line is when your audience is thinking you’re taking them one direction and you suddenly show up in a different more ironic location. I wrote a book I wanted to subtitle “Stories about faith, God, and unicorns.” Admittedly, some people don’t think unicorns are funny, but the subtitle illustrates how I was taking you one direction and we ended up in some other place.
Phrasing examples: “I remember the first time Johnny and I ever made something really manly… mud pies” or “I would like to take personal responsibility for helping these two get back up after they fell for each other” or “If I had a dollar for every time Jack and I did something unwise I would only have about five bucks because we were perfect angels” or “I always loved getting coffee with Jessica because of our deeply spiritual conversations about boys.”
Light hearted humor is the best because this is a wedding, and nobody really wants to hear about the time you and Jack broke your arms doing something really stupid. Instead, take the opportunity to tell a fun story that has elements of the ridiculous in it.
Humor Generators: How does the groom describe his love? Did the bride ever say something embarrassing about the groom? How did their love progress? What do you all laugh about the most when talking about the “good times?” What makes both you and them smile?
3. Connect To ChristNow where is your story leading? Does it point to a specific moment where you realized something about yourself, your friend, or the couple? Reflecting on it further, how does that moment point you back to Christ? How does it point you back to the Scripture? If you don’t have a main point about Christ quite yet, here are some more ideas to help you narrow your lesson.
- What part of the story you just told reveals God’s love inside of them? How about a godly character quality? God’s sanctifying work? Could you see a reflection of Jesus in their lives?
- How did your friend teach you about God? Did it change your perspective for good?
- Does your story remind you of a specific Bible passage? (Scripture Blessings and Benedictions or Wedding Ceremony Bible Verses)
Phrasing Examples: “It was really clear in that moment how God was using Tom to grow my character” or “Just as God used this life experience to transform me I pray that God will use your marriage to make you more like Christ” or “I’ve found that the more I think about your love, the more I realize your love is only complete as it rests in God’s love.”
This is arguably the most important part of the toast. You want to take the audience’s eyes and the couple’s eyes and even your own eyes and lift them to Christ. What better way to do this than through Scripture. Make the lesson count, but be creative. If you want to be funny, try to teach your lesson in the most ridiculous way you can think of just as long as it’s respectful of our Lord.
4. End With EncouragementFinally, it’s time to end the toast. If your main point fits again, say it again, and then encourage the bride and groom to honor God with their new marriage. Bless them. Ask them to love God, each other, and complete strangers. Stay consistent with the theme and main lesson as you speak your heart. They want your blessing. It’s time to give it to them.
Phrasing Examples: "May God bless you both in your marriage as much as you've blessed me" or if you want to be funny, “I pray that God gives you lots of laughter and love and a spare room so that I can come and visit you often.”
If you haven’t already used a Bible passage, you can use one now as long as it doesn’t bring up a whole new topic. Make sure it’s a passage that you can quote a blessing from. The idea is to send them on their way well. And what better way to do this than with a Scriptural Blessing?
Toast them! And don’t forget to toast them! “Now raise your glasses with me and let’s toast the new bride and groom.”
Need Examples?Here are two wedding toasts I’ve given. If I could redo the first Christian Marriage Toast, I would make it more about Christ. Although I included Godly principles, I needed to make it more about the good news the Bible has to offer. The other toast I’ve given is more of a Christian Wedding Toast since I refer to God and quote an actual Bible verse. But like the last one, I think I could have used a little more emphasis on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Need more? Try these wedding toast guides for the Best Man and Maid of Honor (aff links).
Speech TipsIf you have time, write out your toast beforehand and don’t use any notes to deliver it. Just try not to memorize it because that will sound fake. Rather, try to own it and really feel it. Practice multiple times on the days leading up to the wedding, but not to much the day of because you want it to be fresh. However, feel free to read and re-read as many times as you need. A toast can be anywhere from 250-600 words long and should take 2-4 minutes to deliver. Don’t speak too fast but also don’t take up too much time. Make sure you pause leading up to and after important points you want the bride and groom to remember. Modulate your voice. It’s ok for you to sound passionate. This is a wedding after all.
What if this is really last minute? Then write down a general outline using complete sentences on a notecard and take it up with you. Just try and make as much eye contact with the bride, groom, and audience as possible.
Now Enjoy!Wedding toasts are all different and so are the people who give them. Remember that this is not your day or even the bride and groom’s day. This day is God’s day and we should celebrate that in a way that engages people and points them to the Lord. When you give the toast, try to enjoy the moment! It’s not everyday you get to toast one of your best friends and their new marriage. Remember, God’s enjoying this moment with you. He is all about marriage, especially when it’s done right and glorifies him. Help the new couple start our right with their eyes set on God.
Photo By: Tristanf