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So, you have been asked to make a toast or speech at a wedding… and have no idea where to start!


Whether you are the mother/father of the bride or groom, or it’s your best friend, sister or just

someone you know through work, being asked to give a speech as part of someone’s wedding celebration is kind of a big deal. For most people, public speaking does not come naturally. If that’s you and you have no idea where to start, you are in the right place. Read on for my top tips for how to prep your speech, and nail it!


First things first, this is not the time to ‘wing it’. Preparation really is everything.

How long should your speech be?

You want to aim for a speech that lasts between 3 and 5 minutes. Anything less will be too short, and anything longer will lose your audience.

For most the normal speaking rate is on average 130 words per minute. Add in a few nerves and you will probably speak a little quicker, but the 130 words per minute is a good guide to work with. Based on this you want your speech to be between 390 words (3 mins) and 650 words (5 mins). Speak to the couple, or the MC for the reception and gain an understanding of the following?

  1. What is the order of events?

  2. Who else is speaking and what order are the speeches going to be given in? The MC will put together an overall run sheet for the night and will be able to provide you with an outline of how things will run. Understanding where your speech will fall (eg: after the entrée and that you are the first speaker for the event), will assist you to determine your content.

  3. Is there a purpose to your toast or speech? For example, are you being asked to give a toast to the Bride and Groom, the Bridesmaids or the Parents of the Bride and Groom? If you have not been given a specific purpose, that’s fine too, your focus should then be on the Bride and Groom.

Structure your speech

Keep it simple and work on the following:

  1. Introduction – who are you and what is your relationship to the couple.

  2. Body – you want to include 2-3 stories or key points about the couple

  3. Conclusion – this is where you wrap things up and if you are giving a toast, this is the end point.

More about your introduction

First things first, whether you know the guests, or have just met them, letting them know who you are and your relationship to the Bride and Groom is a great starting point. You may like to set some context for your relationship by sharing a quick story.

Eg: “Hi everyone, my name is Amanda, and I am the beautiful Bride Cath’s big sister. Like many sisters, Cath and I had a love/hate relationship growing up. She would steal my clothes and make-up, insist on tagging along when I had friends over and was always the one to pipe up with embarrassing stories right at that moment when I was trying to hardest to impress a new boyfriend. Let’s just say, as my little sister, Cath has this way of keeping things real!’

More about the body of your speech

The best speeches come from the heart. They are personal and they invoke emotion. Take some time to think about how you want your audience, and the Bride & Groom, to feel as a result of your words.

What is it that you want the audience to know about the couple? Now think about some stories or anecdotes that bring these things to life. 2-3 stories is ideal.

Eg: “Despite me thinking at some points that my little sis was trying to ruin my life, as we grew up I also realised that my life would be so boring without her. And that’s because Cath lives each day with laughter. She loves people and when it comes to her family and friends, she is 100% in.

She radiates joy and positive energy.

She’s the one who brightens up any family gathering.

She’s also the one who will turn up on my doorstep with a takeaway meal and a bottle of wine when she knows I have had a tough day.

She truly is my biggest supporter and has my back no matter what.

And this is why I was so glad when she met Peter. Pete equals Cath with his positivity and kindness.

He is her biggest supporter and is already part of our family.”

More about the conclusion of your speech

It’s time to bring it home. Think about how you may like to sum things up. You may like to include a quote from a movie or song or simply say some heartfelt words. If you are raising a toast, this is where you will do that.

Eg: “So with that I would like everyone to raise their glasses to Cath and Pete.

May you light up many more rooms together.

May you always look at each other with love.

May you share many more special moments.

To Cath and Pete”.

What’s next

Print or Palm cards

This really depends on you. Print out your speech on paper or on palm cards ready for the big day.


It’s time to practice. I highly recommend you practice in front of someone or even set up your smart phone to film yourself and watch it back. This way you can monitor the time and identify any areas you can improve. If there is a word or sentence you find yourself stumbling over, change it. If you are speaking too quickly, make a point of pausing at the end of each sentence and taking a breath before you continue.

The more your practice, the more comfortable you will be with your words and the easier it will be on the day.

A few do’s &don’ts

  • Do be yourself. No one is expecting a professional speaker or performance. Be you.

  • Do use your emotion and nerves to your advantage. If you feel a little emotional, go with it. You may need to pause and take a breath. There is nothing wrong with saying ‘oh I am feeling a bit emotional, just give me a moment’. If you are feeling nervous, know that is totally normal! Even the most experienced speakers feel nerves before they present. One way to handle nerves is to reframe it. Nerves feel very similar to excitement. So rather than talking about how nervous you are, reframe it to be how excited you are. This is one time where you should ‘fake it till you make it’.

  • Don’t share how nervous you are. Telling everyone how nervous you are will only add to your nerves. Just go ahead and start your speech. Remember no-one knows what you plan to say, so if you make a mistake just continue.

  • Don’t use your speech as a time to share embarrassing stories about the Bride or Groom – this is not the time or place! Put yourself if their shoes when you come up with the stories you would like to share and if unsure, ask someone their opinion. While you might add in a few jibes, in-jokes or funny anecdotes, a good rule of thumb is to keep it positive and remember their Nanna is probably in the room.

  • Don’t drink too much before your speech. A glass of champagne to calm your nerves is fine, but there is nothing worse than someone slurring their words in their speech.

And finally, try to enjoy yourself! You have totally got this and will be amazing.


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