Being in the position to give a wedding toast means being in a position of honor. It also means being in a position a lot of people find awkward. To ease the discomfort, take a cue from Kenny Freeman, a spokesman for Mid-MO Advanced Toastmasters Club, who offers some simple advice for delivering a toast that will elicit an enthusiastic: “Hear! Hear!” from the crowd and heartfelt thanks from the bride and groom.
The first challenge is writing the toast.
Some secrets to success here are:
>>> Have three parts. “Like any good speech of any length, a toast should have an opening, a body and a conclusion,” Freeman says. Begin with how you know the bride and groom, as everyone might not know.
>>> Keep it short. Aim for about three minutes.
>>> Make ’em laugh. Guests love a little humor — just keep it dignified. Also avoid “had-to-be-there” jokes; everyone should get to laugh on the punch line.
>>> Be nice. Yes, it might be tempting to get a big reaction with a snitched secret or embarrassing tale, but again, everyone should get to laugh on the punch line!
>>> Avoid clichés. Those never improve a speech.
>>> Embrace sentimentality. Meaningful anecdotes are perfect for toasts.
>>> Focus on the future. “It is better to emphasize hope for their future, not praise of the past,” Freeman says.
>>> End bright. A blessing offers a classic ending: “May (God, joy, unconditional love) bless this union.”
Now you have to deliver the toast you have written so well. Take a deep breath (by the way, normal breathing throughout the speech is important to maintain a conversational pace) and follow these tips:
>>> Wait to start. First, all guests must have the toasting beverage. Allow the person presiding to gain everyone’s attention.
>>> Stand and deliver. Toasters stand; those being toasted sit.
>>> Make eye contact. “Eye contact should flow with subjects of comment, from the audience to the couple and back to the audience,” Freeman says.
In the end, the most important element of all — and one that must be evident in both the writing and the delivery — is sincerity.
“Sincerity will outweigh etiquette,” Freeman says. “Very few, if any, will remember manner over emotion.”
Toasting Etiquette For The Bride And Groom
If the bride and groom choose to salute each other, the groom lifts his glass first and is followed by the bride. The beverage is not consumed until the bride and groom touch their glasses together.
Learn more about Columbia’s Toastmasters at http://columbia.freetoasthost.com/index.html.