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How to Give a Wedding Toast When You Don’t Know the Person Well

Updated on July 30, 2012
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How to Give a Wedding Toast When You Don’t Know the Person Very Well

Giving a wedding toast can be stressful enough when the subject of the toast is a friend or family member of whom the speaker has encyclopedic knowledge. But sometimes circumstances conspire to give someone a role in a wedding that demands a toast – even though the person doesn’t know the bride or the groom that well on a personal level. For instance, siblings can grow apart, but find themselves called upon to toast one another. How do you give a wedding toast when you don’t know the bride or groom that well?

Of course, it helps things considerably if you know at least one member of the couple well. After all, wedding guests usually only expect the groom’s friends and family to know the groom well, and same for the bride’s side of the aisle. In these instances, a good idea is to concentrate on the party with whom you are close. Then, you can discuss the new spouse in terms of your old friend.

There are times, however, when the person giving the toast simply isn’t that close with either spouse. Fortunately, this is not necessarily an impediment to a successful toast. A few tips can help make ensure a successful toast – and avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Keep it Quick

Let brevity be your friend. It’s never a good idea to feel the need to fill time with a lengthy oration. In fact, most wedding guests will appreciate brevity more than anything else in a toast. No matter how well the speaker knows the details of the subject’s life, few wedding moments are more uncomfortable than an interminable toast to a roomful of fidgeting guests. When you aren’t well versed in the person’s life story, don’t put pressure on yourself to “come up with material.” Instead, know that you’ll win over the room by keeping things short.

Remember That You’re Not Strangers

Try wracking your brain for things about the person that you do know. Even if it seems like you barely know the person, that can’t be entirely true: after all, the bride or groom presumably didn’t pick you off the street. Oftentimes, the person giving the toast will have known the subject better earlier in life. That’s okay – stories from childhood make good toast fodder.

Remind Yourself

Don’t be afraid to try to jog your memory. For example, a quick glance at someone’s facebook profile will likely remind you of some unique trait about the subject. But don’t guess – if you’re not sure about a hobby, interest, or personality trait, don’t mention it.

Take the Broad View

While the toast should ideally have at least some personal content, there are all sorts of general wedding-related sentiments with which you can fill a toast. If generalities are all you have to work with, make the best of it.

The good news is that the guests will be rooting for you: lots of people have given wedding toasts, and almost all of them found the experience daunting. This will be doubly true if you keep things moving with a brief speech. Soon, they’ll have raised your glasses, and you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the evening.

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