How to Write and Deliver a Killer Reception Speech

Wedding Professional Brian Franklin shares expertise on creating the perfect wedding toast.


California Wedding Day Spring/Summer 2024

Brian Franklin, cofounder of Vows & Speeches, a professional wedding speech and vow writing service, shares his expert tips on crafting a memorable and sincere toast. These helpful hints will ensure you deliver a speech that keeps the entire crowd engaged and listening, and Franklin even added in his typical speech structure as a model. 

1. Keep it positive, short and loving.

“The point is to honor the couple, not start your comedy career,” Franklin says. Nix any potentially embarrassing or inappropriate jokes, and address both partners. “If you don’t have something nice to say about the fiancé [or fiancée], or you don’t know them, talk about the way you know they love each other or any positive changes you’ve seen or can come up with. Never go negative.”

2. Aim for a toast that’s less than four minutes long, about three to four is ideal.

“Any longer and you really challenge people’s (increasingly short) attention spans,” Franklin cautions. Plus, you could potentially really screw up the wedding timeline by going over your time limit, “which can lead to cold food and/or less time to dance or socialize.” Practice reading the speech out loud with a timer a few times to get a good idea of the length and to get familiar with it so that it sounds more conversational than just reading it.

3. Print in large font—big enough to see in dim light when held at the level of your navel.

Don’t try to read your speech from your phone; it’s not a good look for the wedding photos and it’s easier to lose your place. “And if it’s at night, you’ll get that spooky ‘flashlight under the chin’ look,” notes Franklin. And don’t try to memorize it or wing it. You’ll end up rambling and sounding unprepared.

4. It’s OK to cry—let it out!

“This is an emotional night, and showing your emotion will only increase the potency of your speech,” says Franklin. And it makes for amazing photos and videos. “That said, as you practice it out loud, it will go a long way towards taking a bit of the sting out of the words and making it easier for you to get through it.”

You’ll want to avoid jokes or comments that might throw the couple or the audience out of the mood, and/or inside jokes that won’t be understood.

When it comes to writing the speech, Franklin suggests beginning with the following structure:

  1. Greeting

  2. Intro to the partner you know best

  3. What you love about their fiancé or fiancée

  4. Why they’re great together

  5. What you wish for them

  6. Toast!