5 Things to consider when preparing your wedding toast

Imagine that it's your wedding night.  All of your friends and family are sitting down in a beautifully decorated room.  They are all so excited and happy for you and your new spouse...and then all of a sudden they hear the worst most awkward toast ever and the whole night is ruined.

I've been to hundreds of weddings and I can tell you that nothing derails an amazing night quicker than an awkward or boring speech.  Here are five important things to consider when preparing a wedding toast or speech.

1.  Keep it Short

The only thing worse than a terrible boring speech is a LONG terrible boring speech.  When you're preparing a wedding toast, remember that it is not about YOU.  It is about honoring the newlyweds and making a special memory for the people you love.  Nobody wants to hear a 45 minute lecture or inane story that leads to nowhere.  The guests are hungry.  The food is hot.  Keep is to 5 minutes or less.  Honestly, 2 minutes or less is ideal. 

2. Prepare what you are going to say and practice it before hand

The next biggest mistake I see people make when it comes to wedding toasts is that they did not prepare or practice what they wanted to say.  They say to themselves, "Oh, I'll just wing it."  Guess what happens...the night of the wedding they are super nervous and anxious and forget everything they wanted to say.  If you don't prepare, your nerves will take over.  It seriously doesn't take that long.  Sit down, write out something funny, thoughtful, or sweet and practice it out loud in front of a mirror.  

3. Know your audience: avoid inside jokes, embarrassing stories and offensive material

You may have a million memories and inside jokes with your friend, but every one else at the wedding hasn't had the same experience.  An embarrassing anecdote may be funny — but this may not be the time to share it. Try to say something the couple would enjoy hearing. It’s their day, not yours. Some people gravitate towards a roast, but this is a mistake.  Sarcasm is overrated and focuses on peoples shortcomings rather than their strengths.  Focus on what is special or unique about the couple and try to celebrate that.

4. Don't Rush It

As a part of your preparation and practice, make sure you take your time when preforming.  I cannot tell you the number of times the person giving a toast rushed through it and no one heard a word they said.  Slow down, speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear.  You are going to be nervous...everyone is.  Take a deep breath and focus. 

On another note: There is a microphone for a reason:  don't forget to use it.  I always try to remind people to keep the microphone in front of and close to their mouth.  Yet almost every other speech I see, the speaker immediately holds the microphone out and away from their body or off to the side and where no one can hear them.  It doesn't matter how great your speech is, if nobody can hear it.

5. Keep it fun and sweet

Think of your speech as a gift to the newlyweds.  Remember the speech is not about you.  If you do it right you will be creating a memory that lasts a lifetime.  Ideally, you want everyone to laugh a lot and cry a little, but more than anything you want everyone to celebrate the new couple's love.