5 Wedding Toast Gaffes to Avoid at All Costs

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wedding toastIf you’ve been selected to give a wedding toast (or wedding speech), you probably understand what a tremendous honor this really is.  Whether you’re the maid of honor, the best man, or even the father or mother of the bride, the tradition of the wedding toast is one of the most important elements of the entire day.  This is because the toast is meant to provide a window of insight into the lives of the happy couple, and it’s something that the entire attendee list looks forward to.  So don’t blow it by making one or more of the following 5 mistakes.

First and perhaps most importantly, do not wear out your welcome “up on stage” so to speak.  The last thing anybody wants to hear is a 20 minute dictation of the entire life history of the bride or groom.  Keep the toast to a maximum of 5 minutes.  Anything longer than that is not only going to get boring, but it will also provide more opportunity to say something you shouldn’t.

Speaking of things you shouldn’t say, it’s probably not a great idea to talk about ex-lovers, private jokes that half the audience won’t get, the time the groom overdosed on Ecstasy in college and woke up naked on the street corner, or…yourself.  Of course the first 3 examples are obvious (i.e., what would grandmother think?), but the idea that you should not ramble on about yourself is a bit more subtle.  Yes you’ll want to give the audience a snapshot of who you are and why you’re giving the toast, but this should only represent a brief introduction to your “story.”  Remember – the toast is about the happy couple, NOT you.

Another gaffe to avoid is making an overly-emotional toast.  Remember, this is a happy day, and being too sentimental will dampen the overall mood in the room.  A much better approach is to use a lot of humor.  The wedding reception is a party after all, and the guests want to be entertained.  Tell your story with humor, not sentiment.   Obviously it’s not 100% either way, but if you need a rough ratio, I’d say at least two-thirds of your story-telling approach should be framed in humor.

On the opposite extreme is giving a toast devoid of any real substance.  It’s all about the story telling, which is why humor is such a critical element.  And as a story-telling vehicle, it’ll come across as boring if you use generic adjectives and clichés to describe the bride or groom without any substance behind them.  For example, simply saying the groom is the “nicest guy I know,” without backing up this opinion with any examples of why, is devoid of any story-telling substance.  ALWAYS use examples and story-telling dialogue.

Finally, avoid giving your wedding toast responsibilities a sub-par effort.  As I said at the top of this page, giving the toast is a huge honor, and as such you must be committed to doing the best job you can.  Do not wait until the last minute to create your speech, and spend hours writing it, not minutes.  Refine it and get feedback from others.  Make sure you rehearse it so you can perform with confidence.  And please avoid drinking too much before giving the toast.  The bottom line is that you have a huge responsibility here, and it should be treated as such.  Good luck!

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