July 15, 2021
There are a million articles out there on how to give a toast, but today, I’m not talking about the content. I’m not going to tell you to infuse stories that are both heartfelt and make your guests laugh. Instead, I’m going to share what I’ve learned over the years as a wedding videographer across the Northeast USA and put together some tips so that your speech translates well in the video AND photo (trust me: this is more important than you think!). You can’t tell if someone’s speech was too quiet in photos. Without the knowledge of attending 100’s of weddings, how do you know where to set the mic and podium?
I’m going to cover all of that in today’s post but before I get too far into it, allow me to quickly introduce myself (so you know who you are taking advice from). I’m Alan – the wedding videographer behind Murphy Studio. I’m based near Hoboken, New Jersey but I travel all across the northeast United States capturing wedding days exactly as they happen. I’m a photojournalistic wedding videographer, which means I’m more interested in capturing what actually happens (like a friendly fly on the wall) than trying to make you focus on ME on your wedding day (I’d much prefer you stay in the moment – and I’m sure you will too!).
If you book Murphy Studio, I will capture all of your “big moments” like your first look or your first kiss as newlyweds, but I also try to capture those quick glances and spontaneous conversations. If you want a little bit of everything real, I’m your wedding videographer. I would love to connect with you so if you like my work, check to see if I’m available on your date here.
Okay, back to what you came for…
Share this one with your speakers too!! After a year of zoom meetings, we have all gotten a little more animated. The truth is, when you are giving a speech, it’s easy to talk with you hands without realizing that nobody can hear you the second your microphone is too far away. Everyone will smile (and get the gist of what you are saying) but when you watch the video back, it will be much harder to tell. Speak clearly, speak slowly, and hold your microphone to you face like an ice cream cone.
This goes back to my last toast about trying not to be so animated. Don’t feel pressure to walk around while you talk. Not only do you risk getting feedback from the mic (that awful sound that makes everyone cover their ears) but it also can make you look kind of nervous. From a wedding video perspective, it is also harder to capture your movements because as a wedding videographer, I don’t know where you will go next and it’s much harder to keep the footage to stay in focus. It’s distracting for the rest of the people watching you too! If you watch a lot of TED Talks, you’ll notice just the same: they stay where they are and don’t move around. You don’t need to and you’ll look better if you don’t treat your wedding toast like a gym exercise!
If you see a wedding videographer at the wedding, walk over and introduce yourself! They can often give out extra tips that are location and venue-specific that will help you – like where to stand – and you can give them the heads up if there should be something they should expect (like a gesture or dramatic moment).
Whether you chose to have a head table or sweetheart table, I want you to stop setting up the podium/speakers next to where you plan to be sitting. It looks great in photos (because you can get both the person giving the toast and the wedding couple in one shot), but it doesn’t translate nearly as well in real life or in video. What you don’t see in those wedding photos, are the couples trying to quickly stretch out their neck between each toast because they feel strained.
In your wedding video, you will see yourself straining your neck 90% of the time and it just looks awkward (this is part of the reason that a lot of wedding videos don’t have snippets of the toasts!). Instead, set up somewhere where you will be able to watch whoever is giving the toast comfortably. Your neck (and wedding videographer) will thank you!
On top of that, you might also want to consider your table decor. Lately, I have been seeing more and more absolutely gorgeous sweetheart tables. There is often an abundance of greenery and florals, and it looks incredible in the photos. I’m not saying you should change your wedding decor to get better video, but one thing you may want to consider, is that often video is shot from farther away (so I’m not in your face while you are listening to a toast!). Make sure your flowers or wedding table decor doesn’t come up so high that it blocks the view of your natural reactions!
Or ask your wedding videographer or the venue if they provide one! I personally like to bring a microphone stand because it discourages guests from walking around while they give a toast anyway. Let’s just say – if you see a microphone stand, it’s there for a reason! Most professional wedding videographers will bring one to make their jobs a little easier. Don’t forget, less walking around and movement makes it a better experience for your guests in the audience too. Ultimately we want them to focus on the words of the toast, not the movements.
I’m just going to get real with you: ultimately, people are going to do what they are going to do. Often, by the reception, a few of the people giving toasts might even be a little tipsy. This post is not to stress you out because as a professional wedding videographer, we are prepared for ANYTHING. So if you do have a drunken groomsmen that rips the mic off of the mic stand and walks toward you for a hug while giving their toast, don’t stress. I’ve got you covered. If sharing these tips just makes them 10% better, it makes a huge difference.
I hope that was helpful as you start to plan your wedding reception. Feel free to share these tips (and link) to those you’ve asked to give a toast at your wedding. I’ve tried my best to make these tips short but incredibly effective. These small changes will make a big difference in your wedding video. More than that (because I do like to focus on the “real” more than the video), following these tips ensures a better experience for everyone (the wedding couple and their guests) actually watching and listening to the toast. There are a million posts out there that will teach you to be funnier or how to make them cry with your wedding toast, but unless you follow these logistical pieces of advice, the rest will be less effective. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
If you are getting married in New York City, New Jersey, or beyond, and are looking for a wedding videographer, I would love to connect. You can learn more about my wedding videography packages here, or watch real wedding videos on my Youtube to get a better sense of my style. When you are ready to connect, reach out here and I would love to learn more about you, your love story, your vision, and get your wedding date on Murphy Studio’s calendar.