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What's In A Toast?

The simple step-by-step guide to a successful toast.

1. Say your name and explain your relationship to the couple.

2. Express your sentiments about how happy you are to be there.

3. Break the ice by making mention of the day (how beautiful the ceremony was, how wonderful the couple looks, and so on).

4. Tell a short, personalized story that gives your perspective of the couple and what they mean to you (the first time you met, a time when they helped you out).

5. Give some advice to the couple -- if you're not married, you might go for something more humorous (like warning the bride that the groom doesn't like to pick up his socks). If you are married, you might offer up some more serious advice (something you've learned that makes for a happy marriage).

6. Wish the couple well.

7. Raise your glass and toast!

Wedding Rehearsals: Toasting 911

7 real toasting horror stories and how to keep them from happening to you.

Photo: In His Grace Photography

The tasteless toast -- you know the kind. It's that unplanned-drunken-TMI salute to the bride and groom that leaves the couple and their guests squirming uncomfortably in their seats. If you've never witnessed one yourself, you've probably heard a story or two. Whether it's a not-so-supportive parent or a groomsman who's had a little too much to drink, you'll want to know what to do if disaster strikes; and better, how to avoid it entirely. We collected groan-worthy toast stories from Knotties, along with some tips for the taking, so that you don't find yourselves listening to one of these at your reception.

The Roast Toast

"The best man told everyone that he had walked in on the newlyweds having sex (when they were in college). I think it was supposed to be a big joke, but in front of the groom's very religious and conservative family, he mainly heard crickets." -- brandonsfuturewife07

Toast Tamer: As soon as you hear any crude remarks or sex talk, give your emcee (typically the DJ or band leader) the signal to interrupt the speaker or cut the microphone entirely, depending on the extremity of the comment. Your emcee should either steer the speaker in a different direction or introduce the next toast.
Avoid it Altogether: Before your friend with a knack for dirty jokes is standing in front of your entire family holding a powered mic, tell him, and all others toasting, that "sex talk" is completely off-limits and that they can save their material for the bachelor party. Then, put a wedding party member on the case. Have one of your groomsmen find out what the toaster plans to include and if it sounds a little off, have him direct the sentiments elsewhere.

The Unsupportive Toast

"The mother of the bride's speech was something like this: 'While he was clearly not who we would have chosen for our daughter, what can you do? You work hard and teach your children, but they do what they want to anyway.'" -- Katiedid1806

Toast Tamer: Try not to let Debbie Downer get to you -- know that by making such hurtful comments, she's really only embarrassing herself. Smile through it, and have a more supportive friend or relative follow up with a lighthearted, loving toast to end on a high note.
Avoid it Altogether: If you have a relative or close friend who's not a champion of your union, don't ask him to give a toast at the reception. If he asks to give one anyway, graciously decline the offer due to "time constraints" suggesting instead that he give a toast at the rehearsal dinner. A wedding toast is meant to honor the couple and their marriage, and those giving the toasts should believe that as well.

The Muted Toast

"During the bride's speech, the groom's family kept talking and wouldn't stop. The groom actually had to get up out of his seat and tell his family to shut up!" -- hispenguin

Toast Tamer: An out-of-hand crowd can be frustrating, especially for the couple and the person speaking. Instead of starting a family feud, have your emcee do the job. If it starts to get loud during the toast, ask your emcee to cut in and shush your talkative guests.
Avoid it Altogether: Talk to your emcee about making sure your guests are attentive. Your emcee should make a loud-and-clear announcement that pleasantly demands guests' attention before the first toast starts. Also let the toaster know that he shouldn't begin talking until the crowd has simmered down.

The Stuttering Toast

"I hate when they get up there and say, 'Uh... wow... I don't know what to say. I wish I'd written something down...' for the first minute, then tell the couple they love them and sit down." -- mollygrace

Toast Tamer: There's not a whole lot you can do to stop a fumbled toast. Break the ice (or the banter, more like) by politely heckling the toaster. Say, "Tell them about the time we ____." Or just sit and wait for the next speech.
Avoid it Altogether: Ask your toasters at least a month in advance to give them plenty of time to plan. If you know your friend doesn't have much toasting experience, ask whether she would like any suggestions or anecdote ideas.

The Drunken Toast

"The bridesmaid gave a drunken slur of a speech and then turned and fell off the riser!" -- saramole

Toast Tamer: If you hear the booze talking (and not the toaster), give one of your other bridesmaids a signal to interrupt her slurred speech. Have someone else step up to segue into the next toast, and ask a friend to help the inebriated toaster to her seat.
Avoid it Altogether: Schedule the toasting early so there isn't enough time for anyone to get truly intoxicated. If the toaster is known for drinking too much at big events, or seems nervous, ask a bridal party member to watch what she drinks and give her a boost of self-confidence before she gets up to speak.

The TMI Toast

"The mother of the bride spent 30 minutes going over every single thing in her daughter's life. She pulled out report cards from grade school, told us each teacher's comments about her daughter, and every grade she got; it was ridiculous." -- elabela

Toast Tamer: When the toast hits the 15-minute mark and you realize it's going nowhere fast, have a close friend give the toaster a gentle nudge for a quick wrap-up. If the toast cuts into dinnertime, make the executive decision to save the other toasts for the postwedding brunch.
Avoid it Altogether: We all know family and friends love to brag, but don't let that time be during the reception. When you invite someone to toast, explain that the toasts should be between two and five minutes each to leave time for all the reception events.

The Cliche Joke Toast

"The best man stood up, asked everyone to raise their glasses and said, 'There are three rings in marriage, the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffer-ring.'" -- plurgirl

Toast Tamer: It's unfortunate that the person toasting chose to go for an overused "joke," but there's really nothing you can do about this one. When the jokester is finished, pass on the microphone and be done with it.
Avoid it Altogether: When you ask family or friends to give a toast, tell them the reason you want them to speak is because they mean so much to you. This should get them thinking in the written-from-the-heart direction and away from the canned joke book section.

--Anja Winikka

See More: Rehearsals + Brunches