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. 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 afterward. After all, they did come all this way just to celebrate the two of you, right?
But what should you say while giving a toast and raising a glass during the reception? We've put together several guidelines, including expert tips and examples from Beth Sherman, an Emmy Award–winning comedy writer and founder of Authentically Funny Speeches to help. Read on for all the important tips and tricks to ensure your reception speech is a memorable one.
Meet the Expert
Beth Sherman is an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer who has written for shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Oscars. Sherman is also the founder of Authentically Funny Speeches, a consultation business offering courses on speech writing.
Newlywed Reception Toast Template
Finding the right words to adequately express yourself in front of all of your friends and family can be tough, so here are several components to include when addressing your beloved guests.
Welcome guests. Acknowledge all of your loved ones and how important their presence is to the occasion. "First and foremost, thank the guests for coming," advises Sherman. "You might also want to single out whoever made the longest journey to be there on the big day—and remember, the phrase ‘longest journey’ doesn’t have to be taken literally."
Show gratitude. Begin by thanking both of your parents, families, and wedding party for all the support they've provided during the planning process. "If you’ve been a difficult bride-to-be (and you know who you are), a little good-natured self-awareness will go a long way here," notes Sherman. If one (or both) set 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's nice to say a quick thank-you for their supporting role, too, but be mindful of the time. Try not to single out too many people, lest you turn this into an Oscars acceptance speech (cue speech play-off music).
Don't forget to thank your new spouse! "It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it happens," says Sherman. "Save the best for last and end on a thank-you that turns into a physical toast." 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 "awws" from the crowd and remind everyone why they are there with you.
Give instruction about whatever is coming next. 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 entrees are served.
A toast. Don't forget to end your toast by inviting guests to raise a glass. Toast to love, to life, to your new spouse, or to your family and friends for coming to your wedding. Then clink those glasses and take a sip!
Newlywed Reception Toast Tips
Now that you've got your thoughts outlined, check out these tips from Sherman to nail your wedding reception speech.
Go last. Save your toast for the very end of the speech-giving segment and allow all your designated loved ones to shower you with embarrassingly kind sentiments. Sherman suggests being gracious enough to allow other speakers to have first dibs on any choice anecdotes. "You and your partner are the headliners—the ones everyone is there to see—so your guests’ attention spans will reset automatically no matter how long your dad goes with his detailed review of every boyfriend you’ve had since kindergarten," she adds. "Going last also means that all your other speakers can sit back and enjoy your speech instead of preparing for or dreading their own."
Get everyone's attention. While speakers typically think to clink their glass to get people to 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. Choose a time when all of the guests have a full glass of Champagne or a cocktail so that they can join you in raising a glass.
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.
Keep the drinking to a minimum. We know this can be a bit tricky, being that you're the VIPs of the day and everyone will be wanting to have a drink with you before, during, and after every event. 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.
Relax. "Even if you hate public speaking, you’re going to enjoy this," says Sherman. "This is the most loving, supportive audience you will ever have. Your friends and family want to hear from you and they want your speech to succeed." All you have to do is say a quick thank-you to them for being there and you're done. Nothing to stress about.
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 also allows people to just tune you out. Keep a big smile on your face (this is the happiest day of your life, right?) and maintain eye contact with your guests.
You can both speak. Traditionally, if there is a bride and groom, the groom speaks and the bride does not, but this is completely up to preference. If the couple chooses to share the delivery, it is best to establish the speaking order beforehand so there is no awkward fumbling of the mic. If only one of you is speaking, use the inclusive "we" pronoun whenever appropriate to acknowledge that your partner also shares the sentiments. But keep in mind that this speech is different from the longer toast that the groom traditionally makes during the rehearsal dinner. This should just serve as a quick thank-you.
Divide the speech in half or split it up by paragraphs. If it's divided in half, give the person doing the second half of the speech the very first line, so it feels like a group effort right from the very beginning.
Answer These Questions to Get Started
We know getting started is the hardest part, so here are some questions to kick off the process.
- Who is speaking before you? (Perhaps, you will want to make a reference to them or refer to part of their speech in yours. Maybe even add in 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? (Prep your guests if you're planning something special or unconventional.)
- How will you invite everyone to meet your toast? (A traditional, cultural call to action like cheers, l'chaim, prost, etc. are always classic choices.)
- Did anything unexpected happen during the day's events? (You can take this moment to lightheartedly mention it and diffuse it, if need be.)
Newlywed Reception Toast Examples to Make Your Own
To help you get a feel of how all those tips and guidelines come together, Sherman provided a few examples to illustrate just that. (Names and details have been changed. Speeches are not published in their entirety to protect client confidentiality.)
"Kat and I wanted to say a few words today.
And mostly what we want to do is sincerely thank each and every one of you for joining us this weekend.
We know it hasn’t been easy. In the best of times, a wedding invitation comes with an implied to-do list—a happy one, but let’s be honest, it’s a to-do list. So, we can’t say enough how grateful and flattered we are that you consider us worth the effort." —Heather
"Without this sounding too much like an awards ceremony, there are a few people I’d like to thank. First, my sister, Sam. She’s been a constant source of support throughout my life. She’s the strongest, most resilient person I know. She’s also the one of the kindest. She’s helped me plan and re-plan so many parts of this wedding. And no good award speech would be complete without thanking one’s parents! Not a day goes by that I’m not acutely aware of their love and support.
Their calm and constant guidance has always gotten me through any uncertainty.
And even better than that, they’re a lot of fun to be with. Mom and Dad, I don’t know what I did to deserve you. I know there are times you’ve thought the same of me with a slightly different emphasis perhaps, but I am immensely proud to call myself your daughter. To Jo, Ben and Frasier, thank you for folding me so completely into your family. Jo, you have one more woman on your team! The numbers are still a bit lopsided, but we’ll get there! Truly, you are the kindest, most welcoming in-laws I could ask for, and I look forward to celebrating many more happy occasions with you." —Tia
"Dave, I know we took our vows during the ceremony, but I’d like to end with a few more. I promise to always be there when you need me. I promise to make sure you always feel safe and loved. I promise to continue pretending to enjoy and understand all sports you make me watch. (I might regret this.) And I promise to always be willing to negotiate a back scratch.
But most importantly, I promise to do everything in my power to make our world a happy one–because I know you will, too.
Now before I go into my ugly cry, would you all raise your glass to my wonderful new husband? To Dave!" —Cynthia