- What is the ideal length of time for a wedding toast? How long is too long? How short is too short?
- Is there a “formula” for creating a memorable speech?
- What are your tips for giving a great toast?
- Is it OK for a guest to read from cards, or should it be memorized?
- What subjects are off-limits?
- Whose responsibility is it to cut short any inappropriate or rambling toasts?
- Should wedding party members feel obligated to give a speech?
We’ve all attended enough weddings to know that the toasts can sometimes be the most memorable part of the evening, for better or for worse. As the bride, you don’t have much control over what your friends and family members will say about you at the rehearsal dinner and/or the wedding reception, so when the time comes, just sit back and relax. However, before then, make sure your best man knows that he is in charge of keeping things moving.
What is the ideal length of time for a wedding toast? How long is too long? How short is too short?
The best man speech and, these days, the maid of honour are the main attraction. They have a real inside perspective, so I think it’s their responsibility to sum up the couple’s relationship. Their toasts should be about five minutes long. Everyone after that, the parents of the couple and family members included, should stick to the three-to-five-minute rule, erring on the side of shorter.
Is there a “formula” for creating a memorable speech?
The three main points a wedding toast should contain are: who you are and how you know the bride, groom or couple; a memory or anecdote (which can be heartfelt or humorous); and your best wishes to the happy couple. Don’t make it so much about you.
What are your tips for giving a great toast?
Unless you are by nature a gifted, extemporaneous public speaker, you should write out the toast in advance. This means working out a draft a few days ahead of time, practising the speech on a friend and being prepared when your moment arrives. As for content, if you write this in the bright sober glare of the day, you won’t have to worry about stepping into inappropriate terrain.
The best man should mention his relationship with the groom, tell an amusing anecdote from his past, tell him how lucky he is to have found such an amazing woman and then praise the bride. If you’re the literary type, you could recite a quote or very short poem.
But above all, keep the toast short, five minutes max. This is plenty of time to express what needs to be said. Waiting until the night of the dinner or the day of the wedding to prepare your toast will only produce a rambling, nervous, perhaps inappropriate speech and then, once the seal is broken, the other toasters will follow suit.
Is it OK for a guest to read from cards, or should it be memorized?
Memorization is always best, but not necessary. If you are shy or terrified of public speaking, by all means, read the toast. Type it out ahead of time and double-space it so you don’t get lost in it. Make a list of the three major points you want to make. Reading it doesn’t excuse you from practising, but reading is better than stumbling and rambling any day.
What subjects are off-limits?
Forego any reference to exes. Parents and grandparents don’t want to hear about the old girlfriend, even in comparison with how great the new wife is. It’s a slippery slope, best to be avoided. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t swear like a sailor in your wedding toast — this is a white wedding, after all. And please, no vulgarity. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your grandmother, don’t say it here.
Whose responsibility is it to cut short any inappropriate or rambling toasts?
Toasts, and the control of such at a rehearsal dinner, fall under the duty of the best man. The rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom’s parents or by the couple themselves if this is a casual affair, but the best man serves as a sort of master of ceremonies during the dinner.
At the rehearsal dinner, the best man begins the toasts himself after the groom’s father welcomes the guests. The duties of the best man are legion. First and foremost, he is the groom’s aide-de-camp before, during and after the wedding ceremony. His next most important responsibility is the flow of the rehearsal dinner. The best man should round up the speakers beforehand and make a list of those he will call on to speak, and then he will gently move the speeches along. Should someone get out of hand and become really embarrassing or long-winded, he will be the one to rein them in.
Should wedding party members feel obligated to give a speech?
Not unless they are called upon by the couple, best man or family member long beforehand and are prepared.