How To Give An Unforgettable Wedding Toast | Advice From 3 Experts

A wedding speech ghostwriter, a wedding planner and a wedding photographer share expert tips on what makes -- and breaks -- a funny wedding speech!



As we were preparing for this episode, we got an email from this wonderful woman named Beth Sherman who's a comedy writer from Los Angeles. And we're just gonna brag a little bit because Beth has won seven daytime Emmy Awards and you've very likely seen her work on shows like Ellen, The Tonight Show, David Letterman and more. She's absolutely hilarious. I got down a major rabbit hole watching the videos on her site. (DANIEL LAUGHS)

But the reason she's on is because she's really recently fallen into a little sideline writing with adding comedy to all kinds of speeches, especially wedding speeches. She has ghost written nearly 100 best man speeches, groom speeches, father the bride speeches, toasts for the rehearsal dinner, speeches for friends, family acting as officiants, and even ghostwritten the vows themselves, you guys. So needless to say, I'm super excited to have Beth here. I have a feeling that everyone out there listening is going to have a great time listening to this episode.

So Beth, thank you for being on the show. Welcome! Thanks for having me. You're upping our cool factor. So, we just gave you a brief introduction but is there anything else that you feel like gushing or bragging about before we jump in? Gushing or bragging. Boy, you haven't met a lot of comedy writers. (HOSTS LAUGH) Self-esteem is not one of our main attributes. Also, well in addition to comedy writing, I was a stand up comic for a lot of years. I did the road -- I -- writing has always been my my first vocation. Mostly cause it pays my mortgage. But love doing stand-up, and I've done a lot of stand-up over the years. So when I write speeches, I'm approaching them as a writer, but I'm also approaching them as something that needs to be delivered. And as someone that has been in front of a lot of audiences, and in front of a lot of audience that have had a lot to drink (HOSTS LAUGH) And I've watched a lot of stand up. I've watched a lot of shows, and I've sat through a lot of shows so I have opinions on what makes good stage presence, and even if you're not doing a giant kind of presentation, even if it's just a two three minute. And I think that's a toast. There's still things that you can do to make it better for you -- and more importantly for the audience.

Can I kind of take a side track here and ask who your favorite comics are, and like what what who is inspiring to you to get into writing and just stand up comedy itself. I have I have a lot of favorites. I think... Wanda Sykes just makes me laugh. I could listen to her read the phone book. I mean George Carlin, I didn't listen to music growing up. I I was up in my room listening to Carlin, George Carlin albums. Bill Cosby. It was a different time. We didn't know. But I had all of his routines memorized. So that's just kind of how my brain got wired. Now, I love there's a guy called Jim Jeffries who really makes me laugh. He's filthy but he he has a point. He's a he's a master storyteller. And it's always always worth the ride. If you if you hang in. If you watch 30 seconds, you'll think I don't know if you watch an hour you're converted for life.

That's awesome. There was there was a comedian like what I was really young named Paula Poundstone. And she was probably she was one of the first people I ever heard and she has this bit about being on an airplane and the pilot like purposely flying the plane crooked so the people on the right can't see cool stuff. And I just like that was the first stuff that I ever got. I'm not a huge comedy nerd but like there's certain things that I like and now she was one of the first that was one of the first bits I ever heard that like made me really laugh and make me get into this and want to, you know, go to comedy shows. Like Helium comedy club is a big one in Philly that I would go to a bunch. And yeah. It's really cool. So I was just curious who you liked.

Yeah. Awesome. Well, can we start with a question that's just really going to show off my intelligence. What is ghostwriting exactly? So ghostwriting essentially is me writing for you. So you take all the credit. It all comes out of your mouth.

But I'm the little elf behind the scenes writing what you're going to say. Makes sense. I love this idea so much.

I think anytime you're presenting yourself in such a vulnerable way I think you want to start on the best foot possible.

And for a lot of us speech writing might not be your strength and there's nothing wrong with hiring someone to help you or asking for help. I mean after all you probably didn't you didn't sew your dress or you didn't make your bouquet or bake your cake. There's no shame in this concept. So I really like that. And maybe this is like getting too far down like the rabbit hole or too far in like the logistics questions. Like how do you do, like, as you're writing something, how do you like make it somebody like make it their own or like leave room for them to speak extemporaneously? Or is it pretty much like you're just writing and they're reading off cards? Or do you adjust your approach as you're writing for that person? Do you know what mean? It's a lot of questions in there. Sorry.

Yeah, well it's basically it's a full -- so when I say ghost writing it's not you know just it's not a puppet show. It's a collaboration. So and of course I don't know this person. I don't know this person's friends. I don't know anything about it. So what I'll do is and I can ghost write as much or as little as as the client wants. So someone could come to me and say. Here's something I wrote. I think it's I think it's a seven. I want it to be a ten." Or, "I think it's a three and I'm losing my mind because I can't be a three. Can you help me?" And they can send that to me or they can say, "I just don't know where to start," or "I'm too busy or can you give me a starting point?" So what I'll typically do is I will send -- well first-off find out the the basic situation. Okay, you are the bridesmaid or you're the the maid of honor. You want -- your best friend is getting married and you want to blow the best man speech out of the water. So okay, so tell me about how did you meet the bride? You're best friends? How did you meet the bride? How did she meet the groom? Tell me about the wedding. Is it big, small, religious, not religious? Is there some way they're making it their own? Oh, really everyone's going to be dressed like it's Lord of the Rings and it's on New Year's Eve. Okay, good piece of information.


All those sorts of things, and then from those answers because you know, tell me the best the best qualities about your friend. Tell me how does that quality get your friend in trouble? You know, oh, she's so trusting. "She's the most honest, trusting person I've ever met." How does that get her in trouble? "Well, there was that time when those guys offered us a ride and they thought, you know, and suddenly we're in a police chase..." and you know, get questions that draw out anecdotes that are fun to tell. And so you can either either the client will either email me the answers or we can jump on a call. And then once I have enough information, I can start putting together a rough draft because for most of these speeches, the structure of it is formulaic. What's in it has to be customized. What's in it has to be really special.

But, can I just jump in here. How long does it typically, how long does this the process take? At what point should a person be reaching out to you if a wedding is coming up on the horizon? Well, the sooner the better just as far as scheduling, I've turned things around overnight for people who -- it will cost you more. (HOSTS LAUGH) If you procrastinate, but you know, I'm not going to complain about that. So but people, yeah, I think people start getting nervous a few weeks beforehand. It starts getting real to them. Sometimes they don't decide they need help until they actually sit down to write it. And then they then they decide, yeah, maybe someone looking over my shoulder or someone helping me out would be great.

So Beth, I guess the next question I have is you kind of went through like some of your logistics and how you build some of these speeches and toast and what your process is. So I guess just in a more simple question, what makes a good toast in your eyes? So there's kind of two components. There's the writing of it and then the delivery of it. So writing it what makes a good toast is a little bit of humor. You don't have to try to be funny. Life is funny. Truth is funny. You don't -- don't try too hard. And if it's not your thing, just be sincere. Be honest. If you hate speaking in public and you are dreading this, but these are the only people on the planet that you would ever stand in front of people and speak for, say it, say that. You know, everyone's there to have a good time. They're on your side. You don't need to suffer in silence.

And that says a lot about -- it's honest -- and it says a lot about your relationship to the couple or to your friend. Be nice. Sometimes it's harder than other times. You know, could be a sibling you don't get along with or if you might hate the person your friend is marrying. But you know, this is it's a happy day. If they're marrying the wrong person and it's going to crash and burn, let them have this one day make this happy. Well, you're at the wedding. I mean, anything you're going to say at the toast, they're already married it's going to change anything now. Just going to make the whole situation very exactly. Exactly. And there's there's there has to be something nice that you can say, you know, "I've never seen Susan this happy." You don't have to finish the sentence. You know, with the rest of the sentence, "...but she's out of her mind." Yeah. And when you're sitting to write the toast, don't don't expect -- it's not going to fall out of you fully formed.

So be patient with yourself. Sit down and brainstorm all the things you might want to include, all the things you might want to say, the stories you have, the funny things that person has said or the nicknames. And if you don't want to the pressure of sitting down at your computer, start a note on your phone and just every time you think of something, add it to the note so that when you do sit down, you have a little list, you have a starting point. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle. So just get all those pieces into the box and then sort of dump the, then once you have enough, you can dump that box out and then, like a jigsaw puzzle start with the easy part first. Start with the edges. You know, start with your introduce yourself. "I'm Beth, I've known Oprah since we met at Costco. I was buying snow tires, she was trying to lift a bag of carrots the size of a mini Cooper." You know, start with the beginning, then put down the ending. "Please join me in a toast to the bride and groom to Oprah and Steadman" You know, you know those little bookends. Fill -- you know, it's just gradually trying to fill in the middle. So you don't get overwhelmed. As you're going through this kind of talking about like these, this flow to it.

I mean, I've definitely seen speeches, both maids of honor and best man that like it's like they're, they're roasting the groom for like 10 minutes and then all sudden it's like, "But seriously, how awesome is the bride? How awesome is the groom?

I love this guy. I've known him for forever." And it's like, wait a second, there's this huge disconnect. And I think just a couple of the things that you said to let things flow and just to be nice, right? Like that and I know I feel like that's just a good advice for our couples who are listening. That just like some of these little things that's almost common sense, but not everybody is thinking about that way. They just think that it was like, "Oh, I need to be nice at this last part and I need to roast the groom, you know, for the first 10 minutes, you know." Yeah, and it has to be for all it has to be appropriate for all ages. You know, your Aunt Joan is sitting there, their Aunt Joan sitting there, more importantly. You know, Grandma's there and and great aunt Ella is sitting there. So you don't have to -- we know you were in a fraternity together. We get it. We don't need -- the time he peed himself in you know, when he tried to have sex with a prostitute in Amsterdam, you don't have to go into it.

You can say, "We went to Amsterdam. I don't remember all of it, but I think we had fun." You know, you're you can allude to stuff. You know, you want people to think that you like this person. And also, don't forget the other half of the couple.

A lot of guys in the best man speeches will sort of talk all about their friend and then sort of say, "And then he found Betsy. So here's to them." You know, like, what? That's, that's, he didn't pick her up off a shelf and put her in his cart.

Like, you know, they met. I would imagine him meeting her changed your relationship a little bit. You know, there's, there's a little bit of context. So just try to think through all of that. I know I heard something once along the way. And anytime I hear the, the, the template of it repeated, I always makes me smile. And I don't know the, the full outline of it, but it's basically just to start off by introducing yourself and going through that, but showing gratitude and, and giving compliments. It's just such a nice, positive way. And if you give yourself that bit of outline that like, okay, how can I just show gratitude. You know, thank you, you know, if you're the couple, "Thank you all for, for being here, and for holy crap, all of the travel you did. And, and I know how hard it is to find, you know, an outfit this time of year for this type of whatever it is." I'm just showing that bit of gratitude for those around you or to, if you are the maid of honor, best man to that person for choosing you to be in that position. And then giving that compliment, giving love, remembering that there's two people there, not just the person that you're closest to, but giving that.

And even if you're a couple, because now it's very common for couples to give toasts or speeches as I like to say, because they're not necessarily toasting themselves, but it's a great way to compliment your partner from a really sincere standpoint and let them know just how flipping excited you are to be married to them. You know, it's a beautiful, wonderful thing. And it's such a great way to sort of publicly lift them up, right? And I just, I get that roasting and sort of really digging in on their not so best qualities is potentially funny.

I just, it's not my favorite at a wedding when you're there to celebrate this wonderful dream. I agree with you 100%.

Yeah. Absolutely. I agree with you. I stepped on you there. But I agree with you. I mean, being funny does not mean being mean. First of all, you can take the, you know, you can, it should, if you're going to make fun of anyone, it should be at your own expense. Mm-hmm. You know, be a good citizen, be a good guest. Make sure you're, you thank the people that are your hosts. It's not hard to find out who's paying for the wedding. And even just say, you know, thank all the families.

Thank them. Make sure that you, you thank everyone. I'm sure everyone looks great. Mention it. "You look, you know, the, the bride and her party look great. The groom probably looks better than he's looked in a while, as does party. So yeah, absolutely, be, it's a positive thing. Being funny does not mean being negative. A great question. So on that note, let's take a little bit of a break, Dan. And when we come back, I've got some exciting questions for you guys and maybe some good tips. And I'm excited. We'll go from there. Sound good.


(BEGIN ADVERTISEMENT)Today's episode is sponsored by Warby Parker. Warby Parker makes buying glasses online, easy and risk-free with glasses starting at just 95 bucks.Their home try-on program allows you to order five pairs of glasses, shipped straight to your home so you can try them out for like five days. After five days are up, you can easily send them back using the prepaid, returning shipping label with no obligation to purchase. You did this, right Danielle? I did. So when I did my trial, actually wore them around for most of the day, I got to feel for their comfort and how they looked. And I was able to snag the opinions of the people that I saw throughout the day, including my friends on social media.And funny enough, most of the people picked the glasses that were probably the least comfortable to wear on my face because I have a big head.

So I was able to get a feel for them. Otherwise, if I just went off of looks alone, I would be absolutely regretting my decision today. So yeah, I was happy. I actually, you know, when you have them for the five days, you get to feel them out. So that was cool. I remember you posting the pictures and people voting on them and stuff. That was really funny. So when you place an order for glasses that you like with your prescription, or be Parker, get started on them right away. So you have them crazy fast, like in a week and a half if not sooner. And since we know that as listeners of this podcast, you have a pretty big heart. For every pair of glasses sold, Warby Parker distributes a pair of glasses to someone in need, which is really awesome, you guys. So to order your free home try on today, head to warby parker trials dot com slash ring. Seriously, Warby Parker makes your experience completely risk and stress free with free shipping all around. Visit warby parker trials dot com slash ring to get started. Now back to the show. (END ADVERTISEMENT)


Okay, so we're back. We are talking with Beth Sherman, who is giving us all kinds of great tips on toasts. And I just every time I say that I just think avocado. So Dan, I want to actually ask you this question.

What is the best toast you've ever seen or maybe the most memorable toast you've ever seen? The most memorable, memorable toast I've ever seen was one a couple of years ago and I'm going to --I've seen lots of really nice toast, but I'm going to go towards this one because it's what not to do.

And that is one, there's definitely like a nice timeframe that I think for, that is good for people to speak. And that's maybe that two to three minute mark or unless you're like a great order, maybe five minutes and you can keep people interested the whole time. This particular speech was like 30 minutes long and no lie, he brought, there's a best man speech and he brought every possible topic you could possibly imagine into this. It was right around the time that the election was going on. So he brought like that into it. He brought some old, some advice that like an old professor that they both had. And he tied everything to that and it was just like, it was just ongoing and rambling and had no compliments to the to the couple.

And it was just, it was not good. And by the end of it, everybody in the room was feeling awkward and they started talking and then the couple just like their eyes were getting bigger and everybody was just like, all right, cut it off, dude, cut it off. And yeah, so I would say keep it complimentary. Every I'm just going to echo everything that Beth is saying, say keep it complimentary and keep it within a nice neat little time frame two to three minutes and maybe practice beforehand.

Don't do it on like when it's game time when it's test taking time. So yeah, don't make don't make it a hostage situation.

Terrible. Goodness anyway. Oh, yeah. So Dan, I want to share one of my favorite toast that has just stuck out in my memory over the past over the past few years was actually from a wedding that you and I did together, a few years back,. But long story short to sort of set it up, the couple chose to have a Russian Orthodox ceremony and if you're familiar with that and especially in this case throughout the entire ceremony, it's the job of the best man to hold this crown, if you will, above the couple's head and he was specifically holding it over the grooms head. And when I say he had to have his hand up in the air holding this crown over the grooms head for probably Dan, would you say about 30, 45 minutes or so? Oh, yeah, definitely. The entire time with no break, none whatsoever. He had to hold this crown over his, I think it was his best friend's head and God love him. So my heart was breaking for him because you could just see the sweat and the like your, your arm had to be burning.

Well, cut to the reception and it was time for that best man to give his toast to the, the happy newlywed. So he stands out to do his toast and he steps over to the side and asked the groom to please join him where he was standing and he handed that groom a what maybe five or 10 pound weight. Yeah, so he handed him a five pound like free weight dumbbell type thing and he said for the entire duration of my toast you will now get to hold this weight over my head. So for the entire toast, the, the groom had to stand there holding the weight over the best man's head and it was just this super funny, very lovely throwback to the ceremony in a, you know, a serious situation just made really light and funny and he, it was, I honestly don't remember too much specifically of the toast itself.

But just that, just that little thing of course, you're, you're great at that stuff. Yeah, but just that little, that little funny thing like he obviously prepared he brought the weight. It was just that little bit of foresight that I just thought was just so entertaining and it just put a smile on everybody's faces for me. That's one that all will always stick out to me. So yeah, it was, it was just that little like something something, but then he didn't, he didn't keep like badgering him or anything. It was a, it was extremely compassionate. And I think it was his older brother, if I remember correctly, it was a extremely compassionate and caring and sweet speech, you know, wishing, you know, well wishes and all that kind of stuff to the, to the couple and you know, all while Ryan was holding his, you know, wait over his brothers head, but it was, it was really fun. It was all in jest. Yeah, he definitely made a few references about how he could just keep on going. Just to, just to extend it a little bit longer, but it was just, it was, it was, it was lovely in my opinion. And speaking of lovely, another thing I want to talk about is the concept of couples giving thank you speeches. Obviously we're talking about the more traditional best man toaster or things like that, but yeah, I, I love what a couple stands up and, and gives their thanks and shows their gratitude and just sends their love right back to the people that are there supporting them and celebrating them.

Dan, I know you really enjoyed giving a toast at your wedding, right? I did. For me, it was like, it was just, it all came back to just being like a gracious host, right? And I'm, we're coming to you in a second, Beth, because I have a question about this too. But I think it just became like wanting to be a gracious host and, and thinking about all the people who had gathered there and many of them traveling across the country and driving, you know, several hours or whatever. And just standing up there and just expressing one, like how excited I was for everybody to be under one roof for this like very happy reason. Two for just, just to love on both of our, our parents for being supportive and gracious with their finances and that kind of thing. And then lastly to, to gush on my, my new bride and just toast to her. And it was just, it was just really exciting and I feel like not too many couples actually stand up and even just say, hey, thank you so much everybody for coming. "We love you. We're super excited," whatever. And that was just something that I hadn't seen. I just felt very compelled to do it.

So Beth, did you give a, did you give a toast to your wife at your wedding? Yes, I did make a speech at our wedding. We had a tiny little wedding. It was about 20 people and it was extremely last minute. So I, I didn't, there was so much to plan and prepare for -- like the wedding itself -- that I didn't, I didn't even think about what I was going to say there, but I did say a few words and then handed the, I was so unprepared. (LAUGHS) It was completely, this was before I started this sideline. This was a few years ago. And it was a, you know, a lot of comics in the audience in the -- the guests were a lot of comics. So there was -- it was a tough room. But no, I did, I did say a few words and it was really nice because you don't often have the chance.

Yeah. You know, if you're lucky, there are more than a few occasions in your life where you get a lot of the people that you, you love around you, but it's also, it's one of those occasions where it's people from, how often you get the chance to have the people from college and your relatives and people that you work with, you know, it's just, it's such a random group of people. It's all the people that you care about in your life all together for one purpose and that purpose is you. And honestly, the only other time, off the top my head that I can think of that that would happen would, you'll probably be dead. It's a terrible thought, but you, so you get this chance to, and you don't get to say anything at that event. (LAUGHS) So, they all talk -- traditionally that's true. Yes. Unless you've really thought ahead, and there's some sort of video presentation. So, yeah, you get the chance to thank sincerely -- thank people who really have done that.

And my, at my wedding I got up, I said a few words and my wife is really outgoing on an individual basis, but really doesn't like public speaking. And she said "Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I don't want to speak. I don't want to say anything," in that case. In fact, for years before she had said, "If we're going to get married, I don't even want to stand up in front of all those people. You'll have to have some sort of cardboard cut-out of me. (LAUGHS) And then I'm just quietly be in the back like I want to be there, but I don't want everyone looking at me at once." And she's not a shy person, but, but then when I stood up to speak at the dinner, she took the mic for me. She, you know, I mean, she, she would -- because of the moment, you know, she, she felt all of those same things. She wanted to thank people. She wanted to acknowledge -- we had people in from -- she's English, so we had people in from England and her mom and just this incredible group of people. So even if you don't think you want to say something or if you think you'll be overwhelmed by the moment, at least think of one or two things. Even if you're going to let your spouse drive that, at least think of a couple things that you'd like to say if the mood strikes. At least stand up there and smile, but at least think of a couple things because you'll probably want -- you're in that moment -- you're just going to be getting so much love from from guests and you will feel it and you're literally just standing in the middle of all of this love. You probably will want to say something.

So do you have? I'm sorry. Well, I'm also going to say that I think that the bride and the groom giving speeches here is kind of new, but what I've learned over the course of doing these speeches is apparently the groom's speech is very traditional in the UK and in Australia. So I've now written a whole bunch of them and I think it's beginning to catch on here and then certainly because women go, "Well why are you the only one speaking for us?" The bride's absolutely you know the other half of the couple should certainly be up there, but it's a it's a great tradition that the groom has a chance to tell the story and to thank everyone. I think it's I think it's great. 100% and I guess to speak on that more what you said, I love when the couple gives their their thank you and both people are there when it's not just one person standing up speaking on their behalf. Granted, only one person can speak at a time, but to stand up there together in unison is just this lovely lovely thing.

But do you have other tips, Beth, for just delivering this great toast -- whether you're the couple or the best man or made of honor or Dad -- whatever it is, I feel like you probably have some good bits or nuggets to share with us. Yes, absolutely and this these are the sorts of things that you often will realize after the fact. "I wish I had done THIS." So obviously, practice. I would not suggest winging it. So think of what you want to say and practice it. You don't have to, you don't necessarily have to memorize it. You know, it's not it's not a Broadway show. You don't get extra points for memorizing it. No one's going to think that you love these people any less if you have an index card in your hand. But practice it. Say it out loud as many times as you can to get the words comfortable coming out of your mouth, because not only will that help you deliver it better it's also going to help you fine-tune the writing.

Because sometimes something that looks good on paper just doesn't sound natural coming out of your mouth, and the more you say it, the more natural will sound coming out of your mouth. And then so get yourself to the point where you have it mostly memorized. You know you're serious about it. If you can't memorize it all the way, no problem. If you're going to bring a card up with yourself or a piece of paper -- this is a good trick. When you print out your speech printed in a big font, so print it 14, 16, even 18 because what bumps people is when they're giving a speech -- if you have to look -- you may not ever have to look down, look up as much as you can. But if you have to look down and find your place in the speech, you don't want it to be like tiny little type, because that's when you look down and go "Oh okay, where was I?" You know it just word salad on the on the paper. And that's when people stress out. It's because they sort of they have a little bit of flow, they look down and then they go, 'Oh I can't find it! I can't find it! Whoop whoop whoop! We're going down!" And they just lose any momentum or any confidence that they have. So just nice big print. Doesn't matter if you're 25 or if you're 55. Have it in nice big print. Also, (LONG PAUSE) this is a great pause. You know what I didn't do. I didn't write it big enough. Oh look!

And then another important thing is make sure people can hear you. And there's a really good way to make sure everyone can hear you. Pick up the microphone and and ask, (LOUDLY) "Can everybody hear me?" (LAUGHS) And it sounds so obvious, but it will tank your speech because if people -- because you'll get up there, you'll go, "Hey, can I have one's attention," and then just start talking. And you'll think, "Boy ,no one is no one's laughing at the jokes, no one's really even paying any attention to me" and that's because they can't hear you. So make sure everyone can hear you clearly. If you have to shout or if it's not loud enough hold it closer to your face. See if someone can do something. But no one can hear -- it's the worst thing in the world when you do something and then you lose your confidence because you think no one -- "Wow, I thought people would cry here or laugh here. They're just sort of looking at their plate." If there's someone that you're talking about, point them out. "If you say that the bride and the groom met at Nancy's dinner party, point to Nancy. I mean politely, you know but point to Nancy. Let the people in the room know that's Nancy, because if you don't, at 15 different tables, they're going to be saying, "Which one's Nancy?" "She's the one with the brown hair? "No, she's the blonde." "Is she the redhead?" "I don't know. Is she over there?" (LAUGHS) And if they're talking to each other, they're not listening to you. And if they're not listening to you, they're not -- it's not a dialogue anymore and they're not going to laugh at your jokes, and you're going to think. Boy, I thought that was really funny and they didn't -- no one laughed." And then again, you lose the confidence that you had. So make sure.

Also make sure your last joke -- if you're going to have a joke in there you're going to have something funny in there, make sure it's your last one. It's your closer. So if you get a really big laugh -- think about the episode of Seinfeld where George realizes that like he's just going to walk out of the room after he's gotten the biggest laugh in his board meeting. Your your final joke should be the funniest one you have. The only thing that you should have after that is, you know, is the toast. "You know I wish you a lifetime of happiness. Good night." Nailed it. End on a high note. That is so key.

Whenever we're -- I'm sitting down with couples and we're trying to figure out the best order to put the speeches in, if they're having their -- maybe a dad is giving a toast, maid of honor's giving a toast, and a best man and they're saying, "Well who do we put first? Who goes last?" I always ask them who do you think is the best speaker, because we want to end this on the best note possible. We don't want to end it on someone who's maybe going to be a little bit more emotional in a way that's going to bring everybody down. Emotions are not a bad thing, but in a way that's going to leave everybody feeling a little bit heavy. Cause usually these toast are taking place either right before or in the middle of dinner. Or at least your main courses of food, so you want to give people this positive overall experience. You can still share moments that maybe bring a little bit of tears to the eyes, but you want to leave it on a really high note. That's so important.

So I always ask if there's somebody who's going to be a little bit more sappy, let's put them either in the middle or in the beginning, and end on someone who's just going to nail it out of the park. To me that's that's the easiest way to try and figure out your best order, because it's you know it's this way -- it's just giving your guests the best experience possible too. Absolutely. Set your speakers up for success. Right. Set everyone up for success it doesn't there may be a traditional order, but if you know that someone is going to just hit it out of the park. Let them close, and let the person that's super crazy nervous offer them a chance to go first so they can get it over with. Don't make them sit there thinking, "I have to follow this?!" Or give them --make them sit there all night knowing with that pit in the stomach, "Oh I still have to give my toast. I still have to give my toast." And some people will opt you know not to enjoy in any --to partake in any libations. You know, they won't have any drinks until they give their toast, because they just want to make sure that they're not stumbling through it and they're you know presenting with their best foot forwards. For some of them if you wait too long to have them give their toast. They're just a nervous anxious wreck by the time they get up there to do it. Whereas I like to give all of our couples, well all of our groups of people with our wedding party -- I give them heads up when they're going to be speaking, so that they have an idea. So it's not all day they're just going, "Okay wait wait -- did they just announce me to get my toast? No, okay. Wait, oh was that my name?"

This is when you're going to do it and it's going to be good. Bring your glass up with you. Don't forget to give a toast. All those things and makes that a little bit more enjoyable for that person too. Because if you're asking this person to give a toast at your wedding they mean a great deal to you, obviously. So you want to give them an opportunity to to put their best foot forward and to just have a really great experience on their end as well because yeah they're standing up there for you, but this is a life moment that that they're on.

I know when my sister got married, I was super young. I was 13. And for months -- she asked me to be her maid of honor, but for months I was petrified out of my mind that I was going to have to stand up and give a toast and I was 13 years old. I had no idea what I was doing and it wasn't until my sister said like, "Danny, you don't you don't have to give a toast if you don't want to." And I was like, "Oh thank God," because I would -- first of all at that age I was dealing with so many emotions and Lord knows what else -- to even try and go up there and say something. But just the thought of as a kid going up there, I didn't have that confidence at that age. But she thought of me and she knew that I loved her and she knew that I was going to do everything I could as maid of honor to make her day awesome. But that was not going to be one of those things. She knew I would have gone through that day having panic attacks at that age -- at the thought of it. It's just about doing what's really great for everybody involved, and I just I love that so much.

One of the things you said, Danielle, before was and just a quick interjection here, is like that this is like obviously those people that are standing up there and they're they're talking about you and your lives if they're special people right. And my cousin Ryan and I we promised each other we were like 11, I think at my cousin Scott's wedding, that we were going to be best men in each other's weddings. My cousin Ryan has never -- he was never really like a super emotional guy and I kind of poked fun at him a little bit in my speech to him when he got married. But what I thought was really interesting is how seriously he took when he did my the speech at our wedding. He practiced. He wrote it down. I think is interesting is how people are still talking about that speech. I still think about that speech, and I wish he would have given me his speech. So maybe that's one of the other things is ask your best man or maid of honor if they have the speech written down, if you can keep it afterwards. If you can just have that piece of paper maybe as a memento. I don't know if you're scrapbook people or not, but I did not get that and there's many times where like I -- we didn't have video or anything -- and part of me thinking you know it's nice that I just have this memory of it that's maybe better than it actually is. But that's just something I would highly encourage people to do is hey grab the speech, if you can, if they'll allow you to, to be able to have it for a keepsake, because it's a special moment. Yeah that's a great idea. It's a great gift as well if you want to sort of put it together make a really nice version of it for someone.

Love that. Makes sense. Beth, this is something that that you do for a lot of people. And I think it's just so awesome. I didn't even realize that this was really an option, and not to sound ignorant about it, but I didn't. And I think if I didn't see it as an option I think many other people didn't either. But do you have any tips for people who are who are trying to do it without the help of a professional? Oh absolutely. I mean and everything I said sort of goes, you know, goes without saying that it's for do it yourself. I mean the biggest tip I would have is you can -- you can do this. You absolutely can do this. You can write something that you will love, that the people you're addressing are going to love. Be confident in yourself. Be confident in the reasons that they asked you to speak, and just approach it bit by bit by bit by bit. Even if you -- if you're really stressed about it. Just keep making notes of things that you might want to say. Things you might want to say, because just that brainstorm, whether it's you know intense for an hour or whether you do it from the time they ask you when you've got five months to sort of slowly write things down. Collect all that information then start to put it together like a puzzle. Ask if you have, you know, ask friends to read it. Ask someone that you respect or someone who's opinion you respect to read it, and let it slowly come into focus. Let it slowly shape itself.

A five minute speech written at sort of 12 point type, double spaces maybe about two pages. Not much more than that maybe even a little bit less. So that's what you're aiming for it's not a book, it's not a report, it's not a thesis. It's a very reasonable amount of stuff. You've got a lot of business that you take care of on either end. Introducing yourself, recognizing people, thanking people. So you've got -- especially if you're the bride or the groom -- a lot of it's kind of written for you. You know, you kind of know what you want to say. How you say it may be different. You may want to include a little humor when you're thanking -- if you're not the host --whoever the hosts are. You're thanking all the hard work that you know the your maid of honor -- or thanking the maid of honor for the bachelorette party and the bachelor party -- thanking the best man -- without going into detail for the bachelor party. Thanking your guests for coming. It's always easy to throw a joke in for that.

I mean, it at our wedding we got married in late November, in California, and we lucked out and it was an 80 degree day well a good handful of our guests were from England because that's where my wife is from and you know -- we thanked them for coming pretty much last minute for them coming here and sort of realized halfway through what I was saying that they were all sitting in the sun. (LAUGHS)You know they were all there -- all sunburned. And that really yes thank you, so there was a you know a nice amount of humor. Like, "Look how selfless you are. You were willing to come from London, where it was 40 degree and raining sideways in November, all the way here just to just to to show your love. Just because you like us so much. God what heroes you are!" (LAUGHS)

But yeah, just be just relaxed and be yourself everyone's there because they like you. That's awesome. I think in talking through all the stuff what you said about printing out a toast. You know not necessarily feeling like you need to memorize it all but printing it out in this nice large font is awesome. I've also seen people go up there with their phones, which I don't know what it is. (INAUDIBLE) What was that Dan? Bleccch. I know. Not a fan. I'm not either and I get it, because it's it's convenient. You've probably got it on you, but I just feel like the slightest notification that pops up, you know your phone turns off, you got to turn it back on, you have to unlock it all those things are just these little distractions that are going to potentially take you out of the that moment. And I get it, but I would challenge you -- if you are going to write something out have something on your person --to think about what's what's in your hand. Because I think there's this very odd view of seeing a person standing in front of a microphone giving this beautiful toast but also looking down at their this phone. Something that, you know, is everybody's distraction in their life, so it's just a thing to think about. And speaking of your hands, think about what's in your hand -- so you have your speech in your hand -- are you holding a microphone? Are you holding your -- what -- the glass that you're toasting with? What all are you holding? Because at the end of the day, you have two hands, so you can only juggle and balance so much. So there is nothing wrong if you are say going up to a band either asking one of the band members to hold your drink or putting your drink down at a table nearby so that at the end you can still cheers to the couple or cheers to whoever you're cheers-ing to. But just think about those things in advance if you can.

I'm an over thinker, so these are the only things that I think about my life, but it's all those little moments and all those little details that will make you feel that much comfortable. Because if you're walking up there with a drink in hand and your toast in your hand and then the band member hands you a microphone you're suddenly going, "Oh I don't know what to do!" "What do I do?" Exactly. And you know it's if anything that I'm taking away from what Beth is saying, it's about this confidence and just, yeah just having a moment where people are listening to you. Sharing your thoughts and just sending out this like good positive vibes into the world. And you know we just like to set you up for succ... succ... (STUTTERS) success. Nevermind. I quit. Well, failed at that. Nevermind.

No, that's terrific advice and also you know the band is great and you know have a stool, if you need to put something down, and they'll often have a stool. There will be a chair. There will be something. You'll have plenty of time to look at the situation. Look up at wherever you are. You might stay right where you are. Yo might be in your place. You might go somewhere. You might go on stage, you might -- but wherever you are, think it through. You have the time -- it's not -- the day of, you will have the time and none of the requests that you'll make are going to overwhelm the waiter or the band leader or anybody that works there. A bus boy can get you a stool or a chair. They're small requests, so take your time. Think it through. That's really great advice, because the last thing you want to do is stress over it for three months put a lot of time and effort into it, pay me to help you with it and then get up there and have to juggle, you know, and have to you know have your speech in your armpit or something, while you're trying to hold a gin and tonic and a microphone at the same time without electrocuting yourself. Yes. Right.

You actually brought up something about like, depending on where you're going to stand, and sometimes you get thrown all over the place -- you're up at a band, you're standing by the couple, you're facing the couple, you're facing everybody else, your back is the couple. One of things visually that I really like to see is the the speech giver standing next to the couple, if that's possible so that way you can both like interact with them on a very personal level -- you can touch them put your hand on their back or whatever and also speak to the the audience.

And then like secondary, if I'm just purely talking about something visual is actually standing out looking towards them because it depends on the setup of the room or something but those are my two favorites is maybe standing in the middle of the dance floor looking out at everybody, and you know --or looking at at the couple. Is there is there any specific way that you like to see that or where you like to be when you're giving a toast? Or facing? You know what I mean? I guess I guess it's the question I have, is like you're giving the toast about the couple to everybody else. I don't know. It is a very natural question that comes up is, "Where do I stand? Who do I look at?" Yeah. Yeah. Well, where you stand I think is more up to the practicalities of the room, and that would be your more your area of expertise, Danielle, how you can sort of arrange people -- and maybe one but I mean maybe that's something that you're thinking of in terms of how you're setting up the seating. Or you know it's okay this is how we're setting it up and then naturally okay so then this would probably be where someone you know they would go. And then for but who you'd look at, look the person you're talking about. This is -- like anything else -- it sounds like it's a monologue but really it's a dialogue. So even if people aren't speaking, their attention is the other half of the conversation. So if you're talking about the bride and the groom, well they're probably sitting together so that's easy, to make eye contact with them. But look at them, I mean, you know, make sure that you occasionally sort of swing around the room and look around the room, but mainly you're you're talking to them.

This is you, that why they brought you here, so try not to have your head buried in whatever it is. Don't read your speech, have anything that you write down for yourself -- that's your safety net. But you know safety net means safety net. Means try not to use it unless you absolutely need it. So look up. Talk to them. Because that's what's going to give you the best moment. That's what's going to give you -- you're going to see you're going to well up, they're going to well up. I mean you're really going to see the reaction to what you're saying. I mean it's it's in a lot of ways it's it's a love note. You're telling someone that you love them, and that you appreciate them.

If you were doing that to your significant other, you know, over over a meal, you you wouldn't do it while looking at the menu.

(LAUGHS) You wouldn't do it, you know, while playing with the silverware or looking around the room to see when the appetizer's coming. You know, you wouldn't do it looking at your glass. So try. It it can feel scary if you're not used to public speaking or comfortable speaking in public, but that also can really be your anchor. For sure. For sure. So it can be the most frightening thing, but it can also make you forget about all those other people that are around you -- in a good way. Focus on them. And if you talk about the bride and groom's parents because you're thanking them for hosting, look at them. You're -- that's how people know I mean that's a way of showing that you're sincere. Look at them. If you're thanking your own parents, if you're the bride and groom and you're thanking your own parents, how often you get a chance to do that? To stand up and publicly thank your parents?

For everything they've done for you let alone the amount of money that they probably spent on this event, but to really thank them. Look at them and look at their reaction, savor that moment. It's not one that you get too often. That's beautiful. I love that so much. Well, I guess the last question is, you know, what else is there? You know, is there any final thought that you have or any final little tidbits you'd like to share?

Well, I just don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're preparing a speech, t's a once in a lifetime -- or toast -- it's a no matter who you are in the ceremony, it's probably a once or at least a very few times in a lifetime event. Don't be afraid to ask for help. And help can be asking a friend to listen to your speech. Asking a friend to read your speech. Hiring somebody like me to give you feedback, to help you, to write it for you and then you personalize it more. Just don't be afraid to ask for help. I write all kinds of speeches. I've written bunches of eulogies for people because it's another kind of a once in a life, well no pun intended, but a once in a lifetime event. But you know you're trying to honor someone that's very very close to you and sometimes you need a little perspective. Sometimes those outside eyes can really help you put together your thoughts in a way that you might just be too a little bit too close to. Yeah You wouldn't there you wouldn't do your taxes yourself. I mean you could. But if you go to someone who does them day in and day out they can do it a lot faster and they can see things in it that you can't necessarily see.

So don't be afraid to ask for help that you're not in a bubble. And especially if it's the bride and the groom speech, ask one another or ask a best friend, so that you can surprise the person that you're speaking about. Perfect perfect. Where should we tell everybody to connect with you or how should they connect with you. I've got a website. My name's Beth Sherman and it's the very cleverly named Beth Sherman dot com. Perfect. Nailed it. Thanks for being on today, Beth. That was awesome. My pleasure nice to talk to you. Thanks for having me. Well, thanks everybody for listening to another episode of the Put A Ring On It podcast. We love you. And if you haven't yet, please take a minute to rate, review and subscribe in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. This helps us out so much, you guys.

You can find the show notes for today's episode at Put A Ring On It podcast dot com. Oh and don't forget connect with us on all of the socials yep I am at DPNAK -- D. P. N. A. K. -- on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. And I'm at Daniel Moyer Photo on Instagram and Daniel Moyer Photography on Facebook and Pinterest. And remember you can always send us your questions on our website or on the Put A Ring On It podcast Facebook page. We really do our best to answer every single one we get and we might even include yours in an upcoming episode.

Back to blog

Products and services to help you make your wedding speech unforgettable!

1 of 4

Hi, I'm Beth. I'm a comedian, an Emmy-winning comedy writer, and the founder of Authentically Funny Speeches.

In addition to my tv writing career, since 2017, I've been helping people just like you create and deliver amazing toasts and speeches.

To find out more about my products and services, just click the button.

Grab My FREE Wedding Speech Writing Guide

20 pages of my best tips, tricks, examples and advice... absolutely free.