Monday, July 8, 2013

Wedding Toasts Tips from a Videographer

Because I've filmed and edited hundreds of toasts over the last 10 years, I figure I know as much about them as the next person. I've recently been asked by several people for tips on giving toasts, so I decided to make a blog post on the topic.

photo by Squaresville Studios
My strongest suggestion is simply this: spend time on it! You need to sit down with pen and paper, or your device of preference, and come up with a rough draft. Then come back to it days later and refine it. Then do that again. Then practice your delivery in front of someone else. Toasts that have time invested in them are mostly always good; toasts that were given with an "I'll wing it" attitude are usually mediocre.

The next tip is to write from the heart. You may not be naturally funny or witty or charming, but if you speak kindly and with genuine affection you'll be a winner. After that, humor is always a good bet too. But shoot for heartfelt before humor- humor has the potential to fall flat.

If you need a place to start, here is my formula for an effective toast. (This example is for the maid of honor):

- Introduce yourself. ("My name is Jessica, I'm Amanda's cousin.")
- Start with some general opening statement, for example: "It's such an honor to be a part of this amazing occasion." Feel free to compliment the handsome couple and perhaps thank the hosts for the wonderful evening.
- Talk about what you like about the bride and her positive qualities. This could be a good time to throw in an anecdote or funny memory you have of her. You can tease her, just don't make it too embarassing.
- Talk about the groom's positive qualities.
- Talk about why the bride and groom are better together than they are apart. This is a good time to throw in an anecdote about when the two met, when she knew he was the one for her, etc.
- If you have a (short) poetic or poignant reading you would like to incorporate, you could read that now.
- Tie it all up with best wishes for their future.
- Raise your glass and end it with one final salutation, for example, "To the Smiths!" or "Everyone raise your glass to newlyweds!"
- If you're near them, hug the bride and groom.
- Breathe a big sigh of relief.

This groomsman at Camille and Scott's wedding made a stellar toast, although yours doesn't need to be quite this long. It had it all: an anecdote about when the couple met, a funny story that made the groom look like a stud, which he then tied into the couple's relationship, and a quote about marriage.

A few other tips:

- Ask the DJ or band leader to show you how to hold the mic (this is a tip from a DJ).
- If you can, avoid standing right in front of the DJ's table; it makes a bad background in the video. Similarly, do the toasts during the band's break so you don't have musicians hanging out in the background.
- Be aware that you won't be able to turn through multiple written pages if you have a drink in one hand.
-I would say that most people don't memorize their toasts but refer to notes. This is fine, although I think the impact is a little stronger if you memorize it. (Bonus for memorization: no one will see that you're shaking if you don't have paper in your hands!)
- For some reason, I've found that fathers of the bride have a track record of giving bad (too long, embarassing) toasts. If you're inviting your father to give a toast, ask him to read it to his wife first.
-You might have  noticed that I haven't mentioned the length of the toast. That's because I believe if you practice and keep it heartfelt, the duration doesn't really matter.

I hope these tips help you out with your toast-writing. Now go out there and break a leg!

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