Good Morning, and welcome to our brand new blog series, Industry Pros!  For three years, we’ve used our blog as a platform to share advice on everything from wedding etiquette to decorating tips, and more.  In 2016, we want our blog to be the ultimate “one stop shop,” where you can find information on anything and everything, including more info on weddings.  With a roster of amazing industry relationships, we’ve decided to branch out a little bit and have our fav fellow vendors take over our blog and share their expertise.

Opening this new blog series is Emily Vandevender.  With nine years of experience in event planning and over 500 executed weddings and special events under her belt, she definitely qualifies as an “industry pro.”  After her gig as Senior Wedding & Social Event Manager for the Art Institute of Chicago, she now serves as Catering Manager for the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and  was able to put her degree in Communications and public speaking experience to good use when she founded Toast Points in 2015.  Toast Points was developed for your ghost writing and “toast whispering” needs.  If you’ve recently been asked to give a speech, take a look at her website – you’ll thank yourself later ;)  Today, Emily is taking over our blog and is sharing some of her best “toast points.”

Whether you are giving an attendant toast, a parent toast, officiating a ceremony or giving your own vows, first and foremost, congratulations on being asked to share (or choosing to share) at such an important event!

But now here you are, looking at a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen. Do you need some pointers? Some “toast whispering” if you will?

Well then here are a few of my most important Toast Points:


There’s so much to say about your friendship and how the bride or groom has impacted your life. You have years’ worth of stories and you want to share them all.  But trust and believe that every story does not need to be told. Choose one story. Try to limit your toast to 3-4 minutes, giving you just enough time to share your favorite –  Remember, you’re standing between guests and their food being served and bar re-opening…



If that story you are choosing to share is something your own grandparents and/or parents would find cringe worthy, don’t share it (or at least water it down). Try to stay away from stories including any drinking or any illegal activities, as it is likely your toast is being recorded in some way shape or form, and no one wants a Comedy Central style roast (even if it’s unintentional) to be kept for posterity sake.


Make sure to include something about the significant other. This day is about two people – not just the one you are standing up for. How did you meet their significant other? When did you know this person was special to your friend, sister, brother, cousin, etc? Remember, you’re raising a glass and toasting to the happy couple. It’s not just a round of “for he/she’s a jolly good fellow”, it’s “for they are jolly good fellows… for each other”.


The festivity plans have been in set in motion for months, and you have known the day of speaking is on the horizon. We’re all guilty of procrastinating at times, but once the wedding wheel of activities starts spinning, (ie packing, traveling, rehearsal dinner, wedding party photos) – there isn’t much time to sit down and write a toast. Therefore, give yourself plenty of time leading up to the festivities to write your toast, make edits and in turn, plenty of time to practice. If possible, try to start 6-12 weeks in advance.


Don’t feel as if you have to memorize your entire toast, notes are perfectly acceptable. But you do want to practice saying it out loud. This helps with timing any jokes correctly, knowing when to pause and take a breath and how long it’s actually taking to give. (Remember that 3-4 minutes you were aiming for?) But you gave yourself plenty of time – so now you can revise and make some edits!


Speech writing and public speaking are tasks with which many people are not necessarily experienced or comfortable. Professionals are hired for all elements of an event, therefore, consider hiring a professional to transcribe your memories and sentiments and re-construct them into a cohesive, engaging, and well timed toast.

Here’s to your Toast! Cheers,



As Catering Manager for the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Senior Wedding and Social Event Manager for the Art Institute of Chicago, nine years of event planning and over 500 executed weddings and special events, Emily Vandevender has heard her fair share of toasts and (unintentional) roasts. With a degree in Communications, extensive public speaking and lecturing experience and as a published writer, she founded Toast Points in 2015 to assist with your ghost writing and toast whispering needs.

Top photos by Averyhouse Photography