Jess Levin Conroy began her career at Burch Creative Capital, where she helped manage investments and brand development for a portfolio that included C. Wonder and Tory Burch LLC. After earning her MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Jess saw an opportunity in the wedding space to help empower the businesses at the top end of the market. She founded Carats & Cake in 2013. Currently, the company works with over 25,000 businesses across the U.S. and has become the go-to resource for couples looking for the best the wedding industry has to offer.
The summer social season is synonymous with weddings, and no wedding is complete without a mix of speeches and toasts celebrating the newly married couple and their life ahead. But being asked to speak at a friend or family member's wedding can be nothing short of overwhelming. We've all witnessed the never-ending toast that goes on forever and leaves guests wishing someone would make it stop. Or worse, the inappropriate toast full of inside jokes that have people cringing.
From what to say to how long to say it for, there are endless things to take under consideration, and the last thing you want to do is let the bride or groom down. To help navigate the ins and outs of creating the perfect wedding toast, we reached out to some of the wedding industry's best to share their insights on what can make or break your speech. Read on below to get ideas on how to craft the ultimate toast.
"Ask the couple if there are any sensitive topics. You might talk or joke with them about something, but they may not need all 150 guests at their wedding knowing that joke." — Amy Nichols, owner, Amy Nichols Special Events
Practice, Practice, Practice
"Write out your toast, and practice, practice, practice! Not only does this allow you to look your audience in the eyes, but the more you practice, the more your emotions will subside. After the 20th practice, the words, not the tears, will flow." — Paul Barnett, owner and photographer, Paul Barnett Photography
"As obvious as it sounds, make sure to clarify who you are and your relationship to the couple. It lets those who don't know as many people feel more included." — Caroline Dutton, owner, Caroline Dutton Events
"Remember that you are being photographed, so it's not only important to consider the background of where you stand but also your gestures and stance." — Liz Banfield, owner and lead photographer, Liz Banfield
Allow Your Talents In
"If singing, writing a short story, or creating a poem is a passion of yours—and appreciated by the couple—use this art to share your words with everyone." — Diana Chouinard, lead event planner and designer, Jubilee Events
Keep It Short
"Keep the speech short and concise. If you have to flip to Page 2, it's probably too long. Save longer speeches for the rehearsal dinner." — Tracie Domino, founder and creative director, Tracie Domino Events
Include the Couple as a Whole
"No matter which half of the pair you are speaking on behalf of, be sure to include sentiments for both parties and the couple as a whole." — Brooke Keegan, owner, Brooke Keegan Special Events
Speak from the Heart
"Writing wedding toasts can be stressful, but we recommend speaking from the heart and keeping a notecard on hand if you are nervous." — Melissa Porter, managing partner, Asheville Event Co.
Use Humor Tastefully
"Everyone enjoys a laugh during a wedding toast. Be sure to use humor tastefully when making jokes and poking fun at the newlyweds. No one wants to be 'that person' who made the inappropriate and awkward jokes during the toasts." — Lindsey Nickel, owner and event planner, Lovely Day Events
Make It Memorable
"Not all couples meet in their high school physics class, but for one couple who did, the best man arranged for their physics teacher, Mr. Lynch, to make a surprise appearance and speech, which was a nostalgic treat for the couple and their guests. For those in attendance who weren't familiar with how the couple met, they were able to learn a fun fact about the bride and groom, and leave knowing more about them than before the event (which is always a great goal!)." — Tracy Taylor Ward, president and principal designer/planner, Tracy Taylor Ward Design
Limit Inside Jokes
"While personal stories of the bride and/or groom are a fabulous way to bring laughter and love into a toasting session, we recommend limiting yourself to one—maybe two—stories during your toast. I once sat through a toast where the speaker told FIVE stories! To say the least, I couldn't wait for it to end. Also, nix inside jokes during a toast; most people won't understand, which means they probably won't laugh, and that could make things a little awkward." — Courtney Wolf, wedding planner, Invision Events
Don't Forget to Cheers
"As they move into this new phase of life, it is important for the couple to feel confident in knowing that friends and family will be there for them in the years to come. End on a supportive and encouraging note by inviting guests to raise their glasses in support of the new union." — Cammie Buehler, owner and managing Partner, Epicure Catering & Cherry Basket Farm
What ingredients make a killer wedding speech? Sound off below with some examples you've heard.