Want to Know How to Give the Perfect Toast?
After years of listening to toasts I have mixed feelings when the time comes for the couple’s closest friends and family to ‘raise a glass’. Each season, there are very few really wonderful toasts, a few so awful that it is like watching a car wreck in action, but the majority of the toasts we hear are fairly boring in their delivery. Wah, wah, wahhhhhh.
One thing is universal among wedding toast makers. No one wants to deliver a boring toast. I hope what I have to share now is a successful solution. Ready? Here it is! The key to great toasts at your wedding is… I propose couples equip the people they ask to give toasts with the instruction they need to get the job done well. Public speaking is an often anxiety producing experience. And, what do we humans do when we are fearful and lack confidence in how to do something we want to be able to do well? Why we procrastinate, of course! Now, come the wedding day, a couple can expect anxious and ill prepared people, who may or may not have had a few drinks. And, with this to work with, the DJ will hand each of these people a microphone, give them the floor, and the couple will hope for brilliant, heart-felt, funny, entertaining toasts that evoke both laughter and tears from each guest. Sure! No problem! Easy, right? Sorry, but in most cases, wrong!
I came across an article I feel is a good piece to give to anyone asked to give a wedding toast. Thank you New York Times! I can always count on you. While the ‘what not to do’ examples in this article seem a far fetched, handful of dramatic or funny scenes from popular movies, I kid you not, these scenarios sadly happen too frequently. For me, the worst signs are when the father of the bride tosses aside his notes and chooses to ad-lib for the next 15 minutes. I once watched as the grandmother of the bride snatched the mic out of her son's hand and wrapped up the toast for him. Apparently, it was too painful a toast for her to sit through too! Or, there is the maid of honor who can’t start her toast because she can’t stop weeping before even a single word from her mouth is shared. And finally, there is the best man who outlines his entire life history with the groom, basically writing the script to their personal buddy movie. Zzzzzzzzzz. I have a million stories, so don’t get me started. Instead, pass on the good advice in this article. Not only will it tell someone preparing a toast what to avoid, but included is a simple equation for how to construct a perfectly solid toast.
What of brilliant toasts? Well, I look to the Brits for that skill. They make an event of the toasts, and for good reason. A few years ago we had a British best man who gave a 45-minute long speech, while holding the entire crowd in the palm of his hand. He executed a clever, hilarious, roast of the groom in a way that still managed to make the groom look like the unlikely hero of the day/strikingly handsome/all around good guy, as well as smart as hell for finding an amazing woman he somehow managed to talk into loving him forever. There was endless laughter through tears, which were dabbed away with the linen napkins in each guest’s lap. Now THAT was a toast! The British also have 12-hour weddings, making 45 minutes for one person to talk not a big deal. This is much more time than we Americans wish to devote to speeches with our shorter wedding timelines. Still, whether a toast lasts 5-10 minutes or 45 minutes, there is one trait the Brit’s have that many of us Americans would be smart to adopt in this situation. That trait is preparation. Here is more on the differences between American wedding toasts and British wedding speeches. Please couples, encourage those people you have selected give toasts to invest some time and thought into writing their toasts, to practice their toasts while timing them, and use their notes while giving them. I promise, you will end up with more comfortable and capable toast makers and better toasts.