#134 Write The Best Toast Ever with Beth Sherman


March 20th, 2019

55 mins 20 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guest

About this Episode

Writing a toast or a wedding speech - or your VOWS can be daunting. You want to be personal yet universal. You want to be yourself, and also write something profound and relatable. You want to be honest and funny and touching, but you don’t want to cry all over yourself when you say your vows, or give your toast. The pressure is on! This episode is all about the toasts/vows/speeches. It’s about how to put pen to paper, to edit and curate, and to stand up and proudly speak your words to a room full of people.

Here’s her blurb:
Over the past year I've fallen into a little sideline writing and adding comedy to all kinds of speeches, especially wedding speeches. I've ghostwritten nearly a hundred best man speeches, grooms' speeches (popular in the UK and Australia,) father of the bride speeches, toasts for the rehearsal dinner, speeches for friends and family acting as officiants and on two occasions, I've even ghostwritten the vows themselves.
I've helped clients find crowd and couple-pleasing laughs amid family feuds, felon fathers and fundamentalist congregations. I've brought introverts out of their shell and reminded extroverts that it's a wedding, not a Comedy Central roast.
Most importantly, I've learned some fairly universal wedding speech best practices that I'd love to share with you and/or your audience.

Big Takeaways
Can we just take a second to appreciate that Beth has written for Ellen and the White House Correspondents Dinner?! What. So awesome.

A couple basic rules from Beth: A wedding toast should be about 2-5 minutes long. You want to entertain everybody in the room - you want them to have a good time. Help everyone remember why they are there. It’ a toast, not a roast. Rehearse a few times! And remember - a laugh is what brings people in, but you don’t have to keep people laughing the whole time. Lastly - come from a place of love. (One more ‘rule’ - don’t get drunk before you give the toast.)

Let the people toast! Our take: if someone you love wants to stand up and give you a toast on your wedding day...let them. There are so few times in life that people stand up and verbally shower each other with love. And you should take when you can get it.

Beth has a list of questions that she uses to draw out information when she is working with a client to write a toast. She needs to get a sense of the person writing the toast, and she needs a sense of the couple being toasts, and how the three people are tied together. And the basic structure is the introduction, the meat of the speech, and then the actual toast. Remember that the introduction is important so that no one listening - maybe someone that doesn’t know you - feels left behind.

If you’re asking someone to give a toast at your wedding - tell them that it can be 1-2 minutes long! A guideline will help someone that might feel a little nervous about it some confidence to say yes.

If you’re giving a toast at a wedding - be sincere. That’s Beth’s #1 ‘best practice’ tenant. Tell your story and the humor will come out organically. Sit down and jot down some notes without a structure. These notes will eventually become your toast, but when you are just starting out, don’t worry about the final product.

When giving your toast - introduce yourself and acknowledge everyone. How does everyone there know the couple? Who are you? How do you know the couple? What do you remember about when your friend told you about the new girlfriend…(his now wife)?

Links we referenced

*Quotes *
“The trend is that the rules are going out the window. You are doing whatever you want! You’re doing readings and song lyrics and you’re having your interesting friends pick their own interesting readings for your wedding. So - this is for you!” - Christy

“If you want to kill it in your vows...you might need a professional’s help.” - Christy, like Beth!

“Friends have always asked me to punch stuff up and I had helped friends write their best man speeches and I thought maybe there’s a market for this. And it turns out - there is!” - Beth

“You don’t want to hold everyone hostage with a 45 minute toast.” - Beth

“If you’re having trouble trying to figure out what you are going to say...talk it through with someone else.” - Beth

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