What is the difference between a wedding toast and a speech?

What is the difference between a wedding toast and a speech? Many couples are confused when it comes to toasts and speeches at their wedding.  Who should be talking?  When should you do them?  Is there a difference between a toast and a speech>

When it comes to your reception, the two terms are normally referring to the same thing.  Someone at your wedding will get up and say a few words and ask your guests to “toast the new couple” at the end of their speech.

Who Should Give Toasts At Your Wedding?

Sometimes we will find that a couple’s parents will want to speak first and do a quick “welcome toast” and thank everyone for coming.  It is customary for the bride’s parents or her father to go first. 

Your best man and maid of honor also typically say a few words each.  More often than not, this happens right before dinner service starts and after your grand entrance and first dance.  Geographically, across the USA, things run in different orders, but here in New England, this is a typical order of events for weddings in the Berkshires.

If you are comfortable on the microphone, it’s always nice if the two of you say a quick thank you to your guests as well. This will also take the pressure off of the two of you so you don’t have to spend too much time socializing from table to table saying “thanks for coming” individually to all your guests.

Cricket Creek Farm and Mass Moca

How Long Should Your Wedding Toast Be?

Remember, for every minute you talk, you lose approximately that amount of time for open dancing at your reception.  So, if you have 6 people giving toasts and each last only 5 minutes, you’ve lost a half hour of dancing (and there normally is only 2 or 2 ½ hours of open dancing to start with).

I completely understand that toasts can be meaningful, heatfelt, funny and entertaining.  They can also be drawn out, boring, inappropriate and filled with inside jokes that only you and a couple guests understand.

The key is to balance the number and length of toasts so they captivate your guests for a few minutes and then it’s time to move on with the party.  I once had the mother-of-the-bride give a 45 minute speech at the end of dinner.  She literally sucked the life out of the party and people started leaving before dancing could even start.

Let your best man and maid of honor know that they should only talk for 3-5 minutes maximum.  If it’s longer than that, the problem is – your guests will stop paying attention, will start talking amongst themselves and start moving around the room.  You can tell me that your guests would never do that, but drag toasts out for longer than about 10 minutes, and I will guarantee that it will happen.   With 25+ years’ experience doing weddings, it will happen no matter where or who your guests are.  That’s why we always suggest breaking up key events into bite sized – less than 10 minute segments.

What Should You Not Mention During A Wedding Toast?

  1.  Past Failed Relationships
  2.  Sex or Anything Related To Sex
  3. Past Girlfriends or Boyfriends BY NAME
  4. Swears (Keep things PG for grandma and the kids in attendance)
  5. The Wedding Night or “Hurry Up And Make Kids”
What is the difference between a wedding toast and a speech?

How Do You Hold The Microphone During Your Wedding Toast?

People tend to be shy and hold the microphone too far away from their mouth when talking.  A good wireless microphone is designed to sound best if you hold it about 2-4” away from your mouth.

Don’t choke up on the microphone and hold the windscreen in your palm like a rap star.  Good microphones rely on pickup patterns from the side of the windscreen area for best sound quality.  Hold it comfortably with the windscreen (wire mesh top of microphone) above your hand.

A microphone sounds best if you talk “into” it and not “across” it.  Don’t hold it down by your chest or belly button.  Point it slightly angled toward the back of your throat and talk directly into it.

If your wedding DJ has staged the microphone on a mic stand, it is best you stay right there and not move around the room.  We are always thinking of the photographer and your wedding film – for best background, lighting and to make sure they can get both the person speaking AND the couple in the same frame.  Please, do not wander the room when talking on the microphone.  You could accidentally step in front of the speaker and cause feedback on top of ruining key moments that your photographer wants to capture.

Anytime that the video camera or your photographer can capture both you and the couple’s reaction in the same image, the better.  Just use the microphone stand – if you need to adjust the height, most mic stands have a collar that you loosen, raise or lower it to fit your height and then tighten it back up.  If you’ve never adjusted a mic stand – or are uncomfortable speaking in public, talk with the DJ prior to toast time and they can give you some tips and tricks and show you how to adjust the mic stand so you don’t feel awkward when the time comes for you to give your toast.

Where Do You Look When Giving A Wedding Toast?

Sometimes room layout messes with optimal placement with microphone v. couple’s table. It’s best if you are look at them, so if you are just off to one side and slightly behind the couple’s sweetheart table, you can see both them and the rest of the guests at the same time.

If placement of their sweetheart does not allow you to see both them and all the guests at the same time, it might work best of you to be in front of the couple and across the dance floor from them when doing your toast.  It’s best if as the DJ, we negotiate with your photographer and your wedding film maker to ensure lighting is right for them for toast placement.

What is the difference between a wedding toast and a speech
Wedding Toast V. Speech?

Speak From The Heart For Your Toast

Don’t go to the internet and plagiarize your best man’s toast.   Tell a short funny or emotional story, compliment the two of them and raise your glass as you say “cheers” or “mazel-tov” to end your toast.  Short and sweet is always better than long, boring and inappropriate.

Practice your toast – it’s always best not to read word for word when you are doing any form of public speaking.  If you need to, print your toast so you can easily read it (big font).  Don’t forget your reading glasses if you need them.  It’s OK to have your speech on your phone, but be sure it is downloaded to your phone and that your phone is charged.

If you are really dreading speaking in public or you think you are going to have a panic attack if you do (we have had it happen in the past), then see if someone else in the wedding party is more suited to public speaking.  Do you know that public speaking is one of the top 3 fears that most people have?

Start writing that toast and be sure to:

  1.  Hold the microphone properly
  2. Talk right into the microphone
  3. Do not whisper, do not yell – talk at a volume like you were talking to someone across a table in a noisy restaurant
  4. Look at the couple
  5. Be sure to say something like “cheers” or “mazel-tov” at the end so guests know that you are done. 

Author: Rob Alberti – Wedding DJs In The BerkshiresWedding Lighting In The Berkshires
Photo Credits:
Eric Limon Photography

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