Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cheers! How to Give a Good Wedding Toast

Although the heartfelt sentiments shared in a toast given at a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception are usually endearing, there are a few instances when the contents of toasts have made us cringe. Today, we provide advice on how to give a good wedding toast.

Nothing secret or private.

A toast is not the time to share something that the couple would not like their closest family members and friends (much less the vendors and employees they’ve hired to help at their reception) knowing. A good rule of thumb is the “public knowledge” test: if you’re not sure whether the couple would appreciate something you want to say being public knowledge, don’t say it. Note that this rule applies to the couple’s feelings of privacy, and not your own.

Keep it short.

Toasts are a wonderful way to share short memories, anecdotes, and advice, but are not the main purpose of a wedding reception. Keeping your toast on the short side allows guests to enjoy the food and experience the entertainment the couple spent so much time selecting and organizing for them. No longer than about seven minutes is a good guideline.

Only speak when invited.

Giving a toast is a privilege extended from the couple to specific members of their families or friends. If you’re not asked to speak, don’t ask for time behind the microphone.

Focus on the couple.

The day, after all, is about the couple, and so should be any toasts given in their honor. Therefore, steer clear of stories that involve other guests, regardless of whether present at the reception. Doing so avoids conflict, particularly conflict that may affect the bride and groom.

Avoid controversy.

Political or religious views shouldn’t be expressed in a toast. There’s no way of knowing who shares your views or how you might anger those guests who do not.

No exes.

Mentioning prior relationships, girlfriends or boyfriends in a wedding-related toast is always a no-no. Remember, the day is about the couple, not their dating history.

Don’t disparage the wedding or marriage in general.

Making disparaging remarks about marriage at a wedding reception is rude – it tells the couple that you do not agree with their decision. It’s also advisable to not comment on any elements of the wedding. For example, although you might not like fish, the couple put thought and effort into each of their decisions.

Write down what you want to say and practice.

Giving time and consideration to what you will say and writing it down not only ensures that you won’t violate any of these guidelines, but also helps you remain calm and focused while giving your toast. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a sheet of paper in your hand while toasting the happy couple.

Don’t drink too much.

Yes, you might be nervous about giving a toast, but having more than a drink or two prior to standing before the crowd opens you up to flubbing or making mistakes. Refrain from imbibing too much before giving your toast to avoid saying or doing something you regret.