A wedding is an emotional time for everyone involved. If you are a member of the wedding party and expected to make a formal toast as a part of your duties, it can be stressful as well. Being prepared in advance is the best way to deal with that stress. Whether you are the bride, the groom, the best man or the maid/ matron of honor, there is no speech you can make that will be more appreciated than a heartfelt toast to the mother of the bride.
Prepare it in advance -- unless you are a very seasoned public speaker, waiting for inspiration to strike while all eyes are on you is quite likely to backfire. Start thinking about your toast at least three weeks in ahead of time. If you don’t know the bride’s mother well, ask friends or relatives for ideas about how involved she’s been in the wedding planning, how close she is to the couple and whether there are any stories about the mom’s role in their courtship. If you’re the groom, thank your new mother-in-law for the fine job she did raising your wife. Your toast should be short, two to three minutes at most, and you should address her by name at the beginning and end of your speech.
Approach it like a pro. Don’t use notes – your speech shouldn’t be so long that you can’t memorize it. Practice it often enough that you will be able to remember what you want to say. When it’s your turn to speak, stand up to make your voice carry farther and to signal to people that you’re about to say something important. Keep your glass raised to at least waist level throughout the toast – this lets people know it will be a toast and not a long speech. Look at the mother of the bride at the beginning and end of the toast, but in between make eye contact with the crowd. Raise your glass toward the mother of the bride at the end of the toast, and take the first sip from your glass.
Speak from the heart. Don’t tell off-color or potentially embarrassing stories, but do talk about the love the mother has for the bride, the beauty of the wedding itself and the welcome the bride’s family has extended to her new husband. Remember that whatever the circumstances, this is a day that the bride’s mother has hoped with all her heart would be perfect for her daughter – your toast will let her know that her hard work has been appreciated.
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Siva Stephens has been a writer since she could hold a pencil. She has written newspaper articles, medical manuals, advertising copy and gags for cartoonists. Stephens has been publishing online since 2004, most recently as a contributing author for the Oregon Encyclopedia Project.