Thursday Tips - Burning Toasts
Updated: Nov 16, 2017
You're officially married! The cocktail hour is over, and your grand entrance was everything you envisioned. The guests all appear to be in a jovial mood, and then the toasts begin. What typically is a moment in time that contains every emotion possible is now engrained in the memories of everyone present for it's never-ending, dinner halting, awkward, and uncomfortable tone. If you do not want this moment to be a blemish on your perfect day, consider the following suggestions to make this traditional part of the reception as seamless as the rest of your day.
Rule of 3. When I plan with my couples, and we discuss the toast part of the reception I always suggest that you keep the toasts to no more than three people. Typically, I have found that this consists of the Best Man, Maid/Matron of Honor, and Father of the Bride. These are persons who are close to you and should hopefully not want to ruin your moment but only enhance it by sharing unique anecdotes about you and your fiancé. Also, if you open the floor for anyone to speak, you run many risks. Having so many people talk the timeline will change dramatically, and you honestly will not know what might be said by everyone (especially after cocktail hour).
Timing is everything. While the toast is a moment where everyone can get caught up in the moment, for most people attending that moment has a limit. I recommend having a 2-3 minute time limit on the toasts. If you prepare (more on that in a moment), you will be shocked by how long that timeframe is and how much you can say. If you keep it to that length, then the timeline for dinner should stay intact, if not even improve service.
Prepare. Especially if you are not comfortable speaking in front of people. Write it out. Recite it in front of a mirror, or to anyone who will listen (a pet always works). Do that until you can get through it comfortably and within that window of time. Then after you have practiced it, practice it again and if needed write the speech on notecards.
Memorize. Does the speech have to be memorized? No. Is it better if it is? Yes. The reason, why is because it gives you an opportunity to look the couple in the eyes when sharing memorable stories. It also shows that you care enough about the couple to put thought into what you are saying, rather than slamming a few drinks to give you liquid courage than trying to read what you wrote on a napkin, phone, or tablet. Remember this will all be photographed and possibly recorded. Would you rather see a picture of you staring at a screen, notecards, or napkin or see yourself making eye contact directly with the couple as well as the guests being as sincere as you have ever been?
Story time. Giving the toast is just like telling a story. Have a beginning, middle, and end. When you start your story, give everyone a moment to get settled and to focus. Introduce yourself briefly, because not everyone will know who you are and your relationship to the couple. Make sure you complement the bride and groom, the ceremony, and their parents. Be sure to thank the couple for including you on their big day. Share a short, poignant or funny story about the bride and groom, but make sure that it is appropriate for all ages. Memorization is necessary because you really should look at the couple when you tell this story. When it is time to finish, turn back to the guests and ask everyone to raise a glass and join with you in wishing the couple a happy and prosperous marriage. Then, of course, say cheers, or salute.
Microphone and Photographs. Two things that most people forget (except for DJ's and Photographers) about this moment is you are photographed; a lot and the microphone can enhance or take away from the moment. If you do not know how to properly hold a microphone ask the DJ/MC. Personally, I go over how to hold the mic with the toast givers prior to the grand entrance, and if I see that they might either be too emotional to properly hold the mic I offer to hold it for them while they give their speech. Proper mic technique increases your chance of everyone hearing you and the photographs that were taken during this time will capture your entire face, especially your smile.
Keep it classy. While a toast can be and should be light hearted, and heartfelt it doesn't mean you have full authority to use this moment to make your stand-up comedy debut. Do not mention any ex-boyfriends or girlfriends. Do not swear. Do not make jokes about the honeymoon, or what goes on in the honeymoon. Do not talk about yourself unless it relates to the story about the couple. Do not bring up finances (personal, or about the wedding). Do not talk about gifts. Do not embarrass the couple. Keep religion, race, and politics out of your toast. Do not mention any plans that not everyone is aware. If they do not have children, do not indicate pregnancy or having kids.
A moment in the totality of your reception, the toast bridges the gap and sets the tone for the remainder of the evening. Follow these guidelines and ensure that your toasts will be incredible. As always, I thank you for reading this post, and if you have any questions or if you would like to know more about what I offer, please feel free to contact me here. Thanks again and enjoy planning your wedding!!