Do’s & Don’ts for the Rehearsal Dinner Speech or Wedding Toast

Maid of honor giving rehearsal dinner speech
Photo: J Cogliandro Photography

As the maid of honor or best man, one of your tasks is to give a toast or speech to the bride and groom at the rehearsal dinner, and/or at the wedding reception. If you’re not used to speaking in front of crowds, it may be a bit nerve-wracking, especially given the formality of the setting…and the emotionally charged expectations of the crowd of loved ones (no biggie, right?). But don’t worry, darling. Follow these simple guidelines and your rehearsal dinner speech or wedding reception toast will go off without a hitch!

Do:

  • Write down your wedding speech or toast and have a note card with you. Although you shouldn’t read directly from the card while giving the speech, it’ll help to have in case you lose your train of thought.
  • Practice, practice, practice. This may include reciting your speech in front of the mirror, or recording yourself, and making adjustments based on what you hear.
  • Share anecdotes of experiences you have shared with either the bride or groom. These real-life stories make the toast way more personal and engaging for other wedding guests.
  • Be original, and avoid cliches. Sentimental cliches make for a boring speech; avoiding them will show the couple how much effort you have put into your rehearsal dinner speech or wedding toast, and how much you care.

Don’t:

  • Don’t go for the liquid courage. No matter how nervous you may be, excessive alcohol is not the answer. Avoid drinking too much to prevent embarrassing yourself, or, worse, the wedding couple.
  • Don’t go over five minutes. Keep it short or you’ll risk guests losing interest and reaching for their phones.
  • When making jokes, don’t be crass or use inside jokes only you and the couple would be familiar with. Guests will enjoy neither.
  • Don’t try too hard to be funny. It’s OK to go for one or two laughs, but let it happen naturally, and pay attention to your audience’s response. Sometimes what they find funny is different from what you might have anticipated would get a laugh.
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