While the toasts that get the most attention before the wedding are those of the parents of the couple, the best man, and the maid of honor, did you know the newlyweds should really plan to make a toast during the reception, too? It's not a long one (that's usually made by the groom during the rehearsal dinner), but it's always a nice touch that reflects how humbled and thankful you are for having all of your loved ones take part in the momentous occasion with you. Your guests will definitely appreciate a few words from the couple of the night and feel truly treasured afterwards. After all, they did come all this way just to celebrate the two of you, right? Not to mention, it can make for some great photos of the newlyweds, still all aglow from their recent nuptials, as they address all of their friends and family. So what should you make sure to say when you raise a glass during the reception? We have a few ideas for you.
A toast by the newlyweds during the reception isn't required, but it is a welcomed and thoughtful gesture—one that can also be useful in moving along the evening's events if need be. Below are a few guidelines to keep in mind to ensure your reception speech is a memorable one.
Newlywed Reception Toast Template
Finding the right words to adequately express yourself in front of all of your friends and family can be tough—especially after all of those celebratory drinks. The best plan of action is to be prepared by getting your thoughts down on paper beforehand (we repeat: It's never a good idea to wing it in these situations). Here are several components you should always include when addressing your beloved guests.
1. Welcome your guests. Acknowledge all of your loved ones and how important their presence was to contributing to your big day. You should always thank your guests for traveling to be there with you and celebrating your newlywed status, and remark on how much their efforts really mean to you.
2. Show gratitude. Begin by thanking both of your parents, your families, and your wedding party for all the support they've provided during the planning process. If one (or both) of your sets of parents contributed financially to the wedding, be sure to thank them for hosting such an amazing evening in your honor. If your wedding planner is present, or the service staff has been absolutely exemplary in their performance, it can go a long way to say a quick thank you to them for their supporting role in the evening's events, too, but keep this within reason and be mindful of the time. Try not to single out too many people, lest you turn this into an Oscar's acceptance speech (cue speech play-off music).
3. Include a word to one another. You may have said a lot already during the ceremony, but you've been married for only a few hours, so why not gush for a moment about how happy you are to be married to the person standing next to you? A sweet aside will garner a few "aww's" from the crowd and remind everyone why they are there with you.
4. Give some instruction about whatever is coming next. Is it time to head from dinner to the dance floor, or for your cake cutting? As you wrap up your toast, let guests know if you'll need them to head to a different room, gather around the dance floor for the first dance, or stay in their seats as entrées are served.
5. A toast. Don't forget to end your toast by inviting guests to raise a glass. Toast to love, to life, to fate, or to your family and friends for coming to your wedding, then clink glasses and take a sip. The party has just begun!
Newlywed Reception Toast Tips
Now that you've got your thoughts outlined, check out these tips to nail your wedding reception speech.
1. Timing is everything. Chances are a lot of people have already spoken throughout the night, so make sure to keep your toast short and sweet. But not too short. The perfect spot is between three and five minutes. Just enough time to express yourself, but not so long that people start zoning out.
2. Get everyone's attention. You can make your toast whenever you want, it just has to be after all of the other toasts have been given. So there should not be anyone delivering a speech after you. Choose a time when all of the guests have a full drink so that they can join you in raising a glass. While speakers usually think to clink their glass to get people to stop talking and pay attention, this can usually be ineffective and go unheard in large rooms. The best way to start the speech is to simply ask for the mic and then request your guests' attention for a few brief moments.
3. Don't go overboard with humor. Everyone loves a good laugh, and it's a great way to loosen up your guests a bit during your toast. But keep in mind that there is a big difference between actually saying something funny and just telling a bunch of jokes. Stick to humor that comes about organically within your content, and leave the latter for a comedy special.
4. Practice beforehand. Remember what we said before about winging it? Yeah, that still applies. While some people are able to get up and deliver an amazing speech spontaneously, many of us mere mortals aren't quite as skilled—the mix of emotions and drinks in your system will see to that. Try to run through your speech (you'll need to do this to check the timing anyway) enough times that you have it memorized, or at the very least can remember the key points you want to hit.
5. Keep the drinking to a minimum. We know this can be a bit tricky, being that you're the VIPs of the whole day. Everyone will be wanting to have a drink with you before, during, and after just about every event taking place. Try to keep your drink number relatively tame if you know you'll be addressing the crowd later. A slurred speech is never a good speech. Of course, you can resume as you wish after you've delivered your toast.
6. Relax. You've already practiced this over and over and have the whole speech memorized and perfected, or at the very least have a general idea of what you want to say. Everyone in attendance loves you, that's the whole reason why they're there, and you've just come off one of the happiest occasions of your life and are about to take part in the biggest party you've ever thrown. All you have to do is say a quick 'thank you' to all of your beloved friends and family for being there and you're done. Nothing to stress about.
7. Be mindful of body language. An exemplary toast is never just about eloquence, you have to make sure you're nonverbally communicating your message as well. Make sure to stand tall—please don't ever deliver a speech sitting down, not only does it come across as disrespectful but it allows people to just tune you out—and exude confidence. Keep a big smile on your face (this is the happiest day of your life, right?) and maintain eye contact with your guests. Keep your arms to your sides, don't cross them or stuff them in your pockets, and hold the mic up to your mouth so none of your carefully crafted words go unheard.
Practicing your speech in the mirror can help you make note of your physical mannerisms and fine-tune your body language before the big day.
8. You can both speak. Traditionally, the bride does not speak at the wedding but this is no longer a customary requirement. The bride can choose to share a few words of her own if she wants to, but the groom should address the guests as well. It is best to establish the order in which you will speak beforehand so there is no awkward fumbling of the mic. If you are speaking individually, make sure to each say a few words to your newly-minted spouse as well as to the rest of your guests. If only the groom is speaking, he should use the inclusive 'we' pronoun whenever appropriate to acknowledge that his partner also shares the sentiments. But keep in mind that this speech is different from the longer toast that the groom makes during the reception dinner. This should really just serve as a quick 'thank you'.
We know getting started is the hardest part, so here are some questions to ask yourself to get brainstorming. While the first few are great for planning the toast in advance, the last one is a good idea for weaving into your premade speech just before you deliver it to add some oomf.
- Who is speaking before you? (Perhaps you will want to make a reference to them or part of their speech in yours. Maybe even a rebuttal if the prior toast-maker was exceptionally cheeky.)
- Was there someone that went above and beyond in helping make the big day a success? (This would be the perfect time to give them an extra special shoutout.)
- Is there something the guests should be made aware of? (If you're planning something special or unconventional and want the guests to be ready for it, this would be the time to let them know.)
- How will you invite everyone to meet your toast? (A traditional cultural or regional call to action like cheers, l'chaim, prost, etc. are always classics.)
- Did anything unexpected happen during the day's events? (You can take this moment to lightheartedly mention it and diffuse it, if need be.)
Ready to ascend the speech-giving ranks to legendary toast-makers? If you still find yourself a bit uneasy about expressing yourself in front of your guests, check out these expert tips on public speaking.