The toasting hour can be a highlight -- or dud -- of any wedding. The key to a successful toast is your preparedness -- remember that old Boy Scout stuff? Read on to learn how to beg, borrow, or steal the gift of gab.
Advance planning is the first step to giving the perfect toast. Write down what you're going to say. It's wonderful to improvise, but if the spontaneity bug doesn't bite as you stare down at a hundred expectant faces, you won't live it down for years. Reading your toast word-for-word is also a no-no: Use note cards to write an outline or key words that will prompt you with your toast (though you may want to give the happy couple a written copy of the entire toast. More on that later). If you need help organizing your toast, look at "Content" below.
Practice ahead of time. Say your toast out loud a few times to get used to the idea. Practicing will also let you know how long your toast is. Three or four minutes may seem like a lifetime at first, but you'll be the envy of any Toastmaster after a few run-throughs.
Wondering how to show you really care about your buddy? The exact words are up to you, but you can follow this formula to get started:
You can end -- or begin -- with a quote. Look at 25 Great Quotes
Thank the parents of the bride and groom if they paid for the event. If the bride and groom are footing the bill themselves, thank them for inviting everyone to share the big day.
Identify yourself and your relationship to the bride and groom (not everyone will know who you are).
Tell a touching yet humorous story about how the newlyweds first met.
Relate an amusing, and maybe even embarrassing, story about your escapades with the groom.
End with a message of hope and congratulate the blushing bride and proud groom.
Finally, upon pain of terrible embarrassment, do not:
- Tell ex-girlfriend-of-the-groom stories.
- Make fun of the bride.
- Tell risqué jokes -- the groom's grandmother will probably be there.
- Tell "in" jokes that most guests won't understand.
- Ramble on about how you'll miss the good old days.
- Make the groom look like a slacker, loser, or drunkard.
Giving the Toast
You'll know it's time to wag your silver tongue when the MC announces you at the beginning of the reception (or after dinner, depending on the wedding schedule). Once you're clutching the microphone, what next? Follow these tips and you won't go wrong:
- Be prepared. Don't think you'll come up with something witty at the last second. You may end up staring like a deer in headlights as the wedding guests squirm in their seats.
- Speak slowly. Don't rush through your speech, and try to speak as clearly as you can.
- Speak loudly enough for even Great Uncle Jed to hear you.
- Keep it brief: five minutes, tops. If you sense audience restlessness, wrap it up.
- Don't stare at your notes -- engage your audience. Look not only at the bride and groom, but at the rest of the audience, too.
- Guests expect to be entertained, not instructed, so don't try to force-feed a life lesson down their throats. Keep it sweet and light.
- Stay (relatively) sober. You don't want to be remembered as the smarmy guy who made off-color jokes about the groom's mother. One drink of liquid courage may help you with your toast. Five will definitely hinder you.
- One last tip: Write out your toast and give it to the bride and groom. They'll be touched that you cared so much.
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