After the unbridled joy of the ceremony, the wedding toasts are arguably one of the high points of a wedding. Yet if you’re one of the members of the party who has to actually give the speech, the honour of being asked to speak can quickly give way to a certain level of anxiety. Sure, finding the right template or starting point for either type of speech is easy enough in the age of Google, but avoiding cliches to come up with an unforgettable toast is a far trickier proposition.

Whether you’re a best man intent on embarrassing the groom, the father of the bride hell-bent on telling your best worst jokes, or one of the rising number of brides addressing the reception, you want to do right by the bride and groom by making a wedding toast that’s worthy of the day. So where do you start? We’ve partnered up with luxury wedding planners, Snapdragon, to give you the best tips on writing a wedding speech.

Preparation keeps your nerves at bay

Public speaking, in any circumstance, is terrifying, and the stats back it up; according to a recent survey by YouGov, 56% of Brits find it scary to speak in public to some degree. First of all, it is worth bearing in mind that a wedding speech is slightly different from any other kind of public speaking; for a start, you will be surrounded by friends, family and loved ones. They will be completely on your side, and excited to hear what you have to say. Particularly if you are the bride or groom, your first thoughts as a newly-married man or woman will be keenly anticipated by your guests, and the fact that everyone is there to celebrate you should hopefully put you at ease pretty quickly.

For any member of the wedding party set to give a speech, the key is preparation. Simply writing your speech and hoping for the best on the day won’t cut it; making notes and practicing in advance will make you more comfortable with what you will be saying. If you have written the entire speech out word for word, try to practice when you will be looking up from your notes at the guests. The more used to giving your speech you are, the easier this will be, and the less nervous to boot.

Read the room

Taking note of who will be listening to your speech in the first place will have a significant impact on how you speak. No matter how nervous you are and eager to rush through what you have to say, speak slowly and loudly so that anyone who may be hard of hearing can hear you.

An awareness of who is at the reception is also important when it comes to what you’re saying. According to Bride Magazine, 40% of engaged couples find the speeches “a cause for concern”, with 5% of them insisting on hearing what will be said in advance. With a wide range of ages and backgrounds likely to be present for the wedding breakfast, tailoring your speech to appeal to as broad an audience as possible is crucial.

This particularly applies to the best man, for whom the speech can often be a chance to dish some dirt and tell some of the more salubrious incidents of his friendship with the groom. Indeed, the same survey shows that his speech leads 14% of couples to be concerned about lewd content. So save the happy couple any more stress than they have already had over the course of planning the big day, and try and keep it (relatively) clean.

Don’t ramble on!

A wedding speech is just one part of the whole big day, and whilst you may want to tell every anecdote you have about the happy couple, it’s better to restrain yourself a little. There are a few key points you’ll want to address: who you are, how you know the couple, an anecdote or two and a heartfelt expression of your love for them. All in, it shouldn’t last longer than five minutes, and ten at the very most. After all, you have the entire rest of the celebration—and, for the couple, the rest of your lives—ahead of you.

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