the blog

It’s Wedding Season

This time of year brings lots of inquiries that go something like this: “I have to give a toast at a wedding, and I don’t know what to say/want it to be funny/i’m scared to death…” and the like. (A funny thing is it’s often a wife who will call on behalf of her husband. Hmmm.)

My first response is, “Relax, this is the most fun you’ll have in public speaking and a great opportunity to impress family, friends, and maybe even bosses and colleagues.”

Besides my usual advice to prepare and practice (a lot), and embrace any stage fright, here are some additional steps:

  • No alcohol beforehand. This is a huge mistake so many people make. Drinking doesn’t relax you, it dulls you, throws you off your game.
  • Don’t embarrass the bride or groom. Or anyone else. Stories should be warm and funny, touching.
  • Be emotional. Don’t break down in sobs, but it’s ok to well up a little. This is one of the only venues this type of thing is acceptable.
  • Keep it short: 5 minutes at most, provided it’s entertaining. We speak at approximately 140 wpm (words per minute), so do the math.
  • Don’t read it. You can use notes to stay on track. Practicing will help you learn it so it seems more spontaneous.

After you’re done, and you have everyone laughing, crying, thinking, “Wow, that was perfect,” raise your glass and celebrate the happy couple — and yourself — by taking a nice, big swig.

128 thoughts on “It’s Wedding Season”

    1. Ruth,
      The site looks great. Must be in the air because we’re updating ours too. The blog is a good idea. People are hungry for information and sometimes trying to fit it all into a newsletter is difficult. Best of luck!

  1. Love the new look and feel of your new brand. It’s more polished, refined, and speaks to the business community.

    Beautiful setting for the video, with some good tips for preparing for wedding toasts. (Not sure I could follow tip #1, though.)

    Now that you have a new brand, you may want to update your tag line (“…but you don’t have to be a celebrity to work with me.”). While its true, I don’t feel like it speaks to your intended audience.

  2. Great post Ruth – my niece is being married this weekend and I am going to share it with the (long-winded) folks who don’t think they need any help with their toasts.

    Congratulations on your re-branding – your hard work paid off!

  3. I don’t have any weddings to attend this summer but I’ll be looking for an opportunity to make a toast and practice your tips. It’s a real adrenaline rush getting up and making a toast. And as long as it’s short and sweet I find everyone appreciates my heartfelt comments.

    I love your new look. Very sleek and polished yet friendly and inviting. You’ve got a great smile and your warmth comes out in the photos.
    Bravo!

    1. Really appreciate your comments in particular, Trudie. And it is the adrenaline that makes us engaging – or trips us up of we’re not prepared.

  4. Happy Monday, Ruth!
    Your header is so sophisticated but not intimidating — love the new look! I enjoyed your blog a great deal. As a “crier” though, do you have any tips on keeping yourself in check? I know you said it’s OK to tear up, but once I get going it won’t stop! So embarrassing!! Thanks — you’re brilliant!

    1. Thank you, Diane. Practicing it a lot to desensitize you would probably help, but may not completely stop the waterfall. Remembering why you’re there – not so much about your own feelings, but about them. And have the tissues handy 😉

  5. A very good friend of mine is moving to another town. She is beloved by everyone where we live. At her going away party, when the time for toasts came around, I wasn’t prepared and so I let the occasion pass by and now I could kick myself. I love my friend and wish I didn’t get the jitters in the moment when I’m supposed to speak. In fact, I do that all the time. So very frustrating. Your tips were so helpful for next time I have that opportunity. THANK YOU!

  6. Hi Ruth
    As a member of Toastmasters I am often approached for help with wedding toasts. I have made a copy of this blog and will give it to future enquiries – crediting you as the author, of course.
    Keep up the good work!
    Best regards

  7. Nice new look and some great tips. My only comment is that people often put too much pressure on making the toast “perfect”. I don’t think it needs to be perfect – just short, sweet, and heartfelt. Then on with the show. Remember it’s about the couple, and what the people will talk about is the great celebration of their commitment, not the toasts. In my experience it’s the bad toasts that get talked about, not the good ones. Agree about waiting to drink until after after you give the toast because then you have earned it.

  8. Like the new look! The colors and fonts are balanced and I also immediately noticed the widescreen formatted video (…No more 4:3!). I really like the advice on the toasting – especially Rule #1! I’ve seen so many people make this crucial mistake. Fortunately, since I’m also a minister, it’s a little easier for me to get away with politely refusing a drink until an appropriate time. In fact, sometimes I have the reverse situation to deal with, especially after also giving a blessing or adding a prayer. Preparation, state of mind, and a plan are indispensable tools for this.

  9. Hi Ruth
    Love your website & all your valuable work!
    The blog today is great…. “practice out loud”, wow we often forget that basic one! Love all the pointers, especially “it’s all about them”, so keep it short, glance don’t read & be emotionally engaged. I will be sure to refer this blog to anyone giving a speech & keep as a reference! Thanks!

  10. Great tips, Ruth! I’ve been witness to some very embarrassing moments with toasts given by someone who had imbibed a bit too much and thought they were being funny, but it was uncomfortable for everyone. I love the new branding too!

    1. Me, too, Lesley. Definitely don’t want to make people uncomfortable. And glad you like the new look – I know you have high standards.

  11. Thank you Ruth for the great tips on making a wedding toast! My daughter is getting married in a month and I was working on my toast!

  12. Hi Ruth,

    Let’s raise a glass to your wonderful revamped website! I love the colors, it is very soothing.
    I also like this video – you provide timely advice. There is a project in Toastmasters that involves giving a toast and the recommendation is for 1-2 minutes. In evaluating the toast, one of the criteria addresses how well the speaker weaves in the main purpose for the toast. You cover this in the video very well – exactly what a wedding toast should be: tasteful, humorous and relevant.

    Good point about the alcohol – just one more scenario where a drink does not make it better!

    Congratulations again on your relaunch!

    Best.

    Laura

  13. Hi Ruth,

    I love your rebranded website. Great job!
    Thanks for the tips. I have to give a small speech during a wedding in September. Your suggestions will be extremely helpful.

    Lori

  14. Your new website and branding is slick, but not intimidating.
    The blog post is very timely for me, as I’ll be the mother of the bride in a few months (not even sure whether there is a place for me to speak?). I have heeded your advice to practice in advance OUTLOUD when doing presentations, but the warning on alcohol is a good one. Keeping it short is also a relief to me and definitely good advice as my first son-in-law found out the hard way!!
    Good luck with your new branding and website.

  15. Love the clean, streamlined look of your website. Great blog post, you always give helpful tips in your posts. Thanks.

  16. Ruth, thank you for the great tips! Your new brand and website are stunning! You are a wealth of information for us, your followers. I appreciate the great content you put out into the world.

  17. Hi Ruth,

    I love your new look (including your lovely pink skirt ;-)!

    Thanks for inspiring me to speak up!

    Lots of love and luck,

    Jacqueline

  18. Ruth, I love the new header, it fits you so well. It feels friendly and business like. And the photo of you is so inviting – you’re relaxed and smiling. Who wouldn’t want to work with you?

    I don’t have any upcoming events to use the toast but with this great doable advice I’m going to look for those opportunities. Thanks so much.

  19. Hi Ruth! LOVE the new web site! You’re pictures capture your vibrancy and eloquence very nicely. I am not needing to make a toast anytime soon, but I use your advice at my weekly networking meetings where I am required to give a 1 minute advertisement for my business. I don’t care where or what it is – speaking in front of a group is nerve wracking!
    Now, I am scheduled to do a 10 minute presentation in August. Any advice?
    P.S. thanks for all the free content – That’s what inspired me to purchase your new book!

  20. Ruth, well said as always! I love the new look of your site and the branding looks clean and professional. Your warmth, intellect and knowledge shines through in every word. Kudos and best of luck to you, you are a true inspiration.

  21. I’ve been to lots of weddings and rehearsal dinners, and sat through many embarassingly awkward toasts. That’s for this advice. It’s short, to the point, and “spot on.” I’m going to share it with others.

  22. Absolutely stunning! The new branding is really captivating. Congratulations! Thank you for all the wisdom you share and the timely post regarding wedding toasts. I’ve witnessed wonderful heartwarming tributes to cringe inducing ones. Keeping your points in mind when the occasion arises.

  23. Nice post, Ruth! Great reminders to remember what you’re there for, and I especially like the point to keep it short and sweet! I also brace myself when I see the person giving the toast (or introduction, more along the lines of the public speaking I do these days) holding too much paper or having had too much to drink already.
    One note about the video – after it’s finished, YouTube is showing a bunch of other videos to go to, rather than coming back to the beginning of your video. I think there’s a setting to reset to your own, rather than directing your audience to other people’s videos.

  24. PERFECT! Fresh, new brand makes you and your message stand out to grab attention. ALL points tie in to help avoid any possible blunders at a wedding while offering heartfelt cheers to the couple .
    Thank you so much Ruth, you’ve done it again.

  25. Ruth,

    Your new website looks terrific! You have charisma in every sense of the term! I’m so glad I took your video charisma course a couple of years ago. I now love making short videos of my own for my business, and it’s all because of what I learned from you. Keep shining… you look great!!!

    Mara

  26. Ruth, I love the new look and feel of your site. It’s very YOU!

    With all the speaking I do, you’d like I would have given more than one toast in my life, but nope. And the one time I did, I felt so awkward and uncomfortable! Definitely not my preferred kind of speaking. 🙂

    Good luck with the launch!

  27. Ruth, I never read or watch one of your blogs or posts without learning something. It would be great if wedding planners linked this post to their sites. I have seen (and committed a couple) of these things not to do over the years.

  28. Hiya, Ruth,

    I don’t have any “toasting” situations coming up, but this is good advice generally for speaking in public. I always enjoy what you have to say, but as you asked for comments on your new blog….

    1) To make your list of tips stand out more, I’d make that a bullet-point list. For maximum effect, put the two most important points first and the third most important point last (it’s how people scan bullet point lists, oddly).

    2) A minor error, but it jumped out at me – the “I’m” in “i’m scared to death” should be capitalized.

    Otherwise, wonderful advice as always, and best of luck with your new venture! You have such a pleasant, fun way of teaching, and I always enjoy your videos.

  29. Very sound advice, Ruth. I’ve witnessed so many wedding tribute disasters. The kind that make you cringe and feel so badly for the speaker.

    I love your new “brand.” It represents you well. It’s clean, sharp, and more sophisticated like you are.

  30. Ruth, this website is so sophisticated and what a delight to watch the colors in the video match with the website as a frame. Are we going to see some more splashs and points of red? The content is very well-crafted too, up to the big sip at the end. 😉 All the best for you and your work! Susanne

  31. I liked this post – even though I have never had to speak at a wedding (a few times at funerals, sigh.) I found it interesting that the alcohol thing needed to be brought up – we have been so conditioned to believe a shot of something will calm our nerves, when all it does, as you said, is dull your senses. Perfectly timed for wedding season.

    1. You got that right, Matt. If I hadn’t recently gone through it myself, I probably would’ve left that one out. Thank you!

  32. For someone who has been watching you over 2 years now, Love, Love Love your new branding. The tag line is perfect. Subtle colors and rocking red shoes. Snap!!! The picture with the purple dress – bold and very flattering. Shows true confidence. The video is great. It has simple content and exactly what needs to be reminded when making a toast at a personal event. There was nothing distracting in the video that made me wander from what you were saying. Thank you for engaging us and giving us this opportunity to assist you.

  33. Ruth,
    The new look and feel is excellent. Well done. It is slick and yet approachable, oh and did I say chic as well!!

    It looks like you are now targeting Executives and Celebs based on the home page. When I go to the pull down menu, I do see entrepreneurs and speaking. I am guessing that was a conscious decision.

    This video is as good as all the others. Bravo my friend

  34. Awesome info, Ruth! I used to hate public speaking but I LOVE it now! I spoke in front of over 1000 people yesterday! It’s one of my favorite things to do now!

  35. Hi Ruth,

    Huge improvement on the site, although I’ve always considered the content to shine through. Having spent the last few months getting a website up, to one’s liking is a very tough thing; however, the end result is one you feel proud to send others to.

    Best,
    Shawn

  36. I feel ready to make toast now! I especially value your tip about practicing out loud first, I’ll try it.
    Thanks, Rachel

  37. Hi Ruth,

    While I won’t be giving any wedding toasts in the near future – I love how your tips can be used for any event or situation where one is asked to speak in front of friends and family. Great tips! I ordered your book today and can’t wait for it to arrive.

    Thanks for your wisdom!

    With Gratitude,
    Alexis

  38. Thank you for the tips Ruth. My favourite was “keep it short”. So often we see instances where the speech seems to ramble on and guests begin to wonder when it will end.

  39. Dear Ruth,

    Ab-so-lutely love the new look! You radiate confidence, elegance, wisdom and energy in your clip about wedding toasts. You are very much your authentic and natural self and that is so beautiful. Repeating a word and not re-doing the clip shows courage and humility. I truly find this the nicest improvement.
    You walk the talk in your video clip.

    Keep going!!

    The color scheme and images give a nice touch to the overall feel of the website.

    Applause…!

  40. Ruth, there are many things about your blog that I enjoyed. First, shooting the video outdoors was very refreshing (no pun intended) and helped reinforce your message about weddings in springtime.

    Also, you are a great role model. Your delivery was very natural, your hands and voice very expressive. I was also impressed by how concise your message is. You managed to cover lots of material in a short time without rushing. Bravo.

  41. When I opened your email on Monday all I could say to the header is WOW! It’s beautiful.

    The readability of the new look is AWESOME. Easy on the eyes. The way you write works for those of us with focus/attention issues.

    I like the colors of your new blog header. To me, it’s very corporate almost impersonal. I find I like to see the person behind the blog or a specialized logo that speaks of the work.

    Bless~ed Be,
    Elizabeth Jo Otto

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Interesting on the focus/attention disorders issue. My goal was to make it clean, easy to read & navigate. Looks like I succeeded.

  42. Great advice on the wedding toast that I will pass on to those I know will be “toasting” this wedding season. I’ll share your website with them so they can hear it straight from the expert.
    I know recreating a site is a huge undertaking… one I have been putting off… you have inspired me to move forward on this very daunting project.

    1. Hugely daunting, Loren. One of the hardest projects I’ve ever had to execute. But I had an excellent design team that was worth every penny. Thanks for posting.

  43. Hello Ruth
    Good to see the refresh to something more contemporary than the older site and image. I admit to not liking the grey on grey on grey scheme (but that is a personal thing and all about me, not you).That said, the content is easy to find, and the blog approach is accessible and searchable. Well done and thank you for continuing to share your enthusiasm with your web audience.
    Cheers.

  44. Congrats on your new website and new adventure! I can’t wait to read your book! Great advice for toasters with the mosters…and like the glass raised in the air, keep it up!

  45. Great ideas. As a Pastor who has done many weddings, you are so correct about bad toasts and how they can ruin the mood and excitement of the special time.

    Thanks and I hope we can meet & discuss what I’m doing.

    God BLESS
    Dr. Gilbert

  46. Hi Ruth,
    Your new look is lovely! Great advice for toasting well – it’s always the part in a wedding when I’m wondering how long and boring it will be, and how many inappropriate things will be said. Hopefully your blog will reach lots of this season’s toasters!

  47. Ruth – Well done with your new branding! This is not an easy (or necessarily an always fun) process. I like the look and feel you’ve come up with. I especially like the picture of you sitting on the block in your “special announcement” email post. I raise my cup of tea to you and your diligent hard work. Cheers!

  48. Great advice Ruth. I’ve been the event planner for a couple of weddings, and you are soooo right…. It’s NOT about you when it comes to a toast! Keep it short is key!
    Great job Ruth!!! Kudos!

  49. Ruth-
    Great new look. The logo font and color are very powerful, rich, and classy. Your enewsletters always are very relevant and useful on topics which scare us, and your blog topics continue with this theme. Best of luck.

    Beverly

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