Toasts should not be long outrageous or insulting. Toasts should
share a balance of humour and sentiment, be an appropriate length, and
have natural rhythm and sincerity. Increase your chances of delivering a
speech people will remember by avoiding these eight common pitfalls.
- Have A Dull Opening – This is
guaranteed to lose your audience immediately. The opening sets the tone
for everything to follow. And keep it tasteful. I attended one wedding
in which the best man opened with, When I first met Steven, I thought he
might be a member of the Taliban. Thankfully, I was wrong. The room
fell quieter then a theatre showing a Pauly Shore film.
- Be Vulgar – Use bathroom humour or
vulgarity. Guaranteed to turn off everyone except juveniles, who will
snicker appreciatively. No bride and groom deserve to have their day
punctured by crass material. Just because cousin Darrell likes to tell
jokes involving bodily functions doesn’t mean they’re funny. If you read
over your toast and find it sounds like something cousin Darrel might
have conceived, try again.
- Be Sure To Ramble – Tell stories that
have no point. Your lose your audience in a hurry. Anecdotes can serve
as powerful accents to toast, but only if they mean something and go
Its not enough to say, Brenda and I have had lots of
fun together over the years. One time we missed a concert because she
had to make sure her bed was properly made!
This may have been
hilarious to the two of you at the time, but the audience has to
understand why it’s funny. Does it (a) highlight Brenda’s compulsion for
neatness or (b) that the two of you always make each other late or (c)
that the only chore she ever had at home was making her bed, and she
couldn’t even get that right.
Any story should have significance within the overall theme of your toast, and the meaning should be clear to everyone.
- Embarrass The Couple – Cross the line
from roasting to ridiculing and make everyone squirm. Teasing the bride
or groom with personal quirks or idiosyncrasies can add humour and even
affection to your toast – but be careful that the teasing doesn’t
inadvertently tip over into nastiness.
Adopting the same tone in
your speech as you might normally use with your friends could come off
as callous to those who don’t know the nature of your relationship.
- Ridicule The Bride – Make fun of the
bride and earn the hatred of everyone in the room. All grooms should
especially heed this rule. This is the day you are proclaiming to the
world your everlasting love for your bride, and teasing – even teasing
that seems harmless to you – can be risky. So before you include that
joke about how clinically insane she seemed during the wedding planning
or how you’re amazed by her ability to spend hours on the phone talking
with her friends about nothing at all, button up. Your job is to make
her feel like a princess.
- Flatter The Wrong Folks – This rule might also be called, Forgetting Whom The Wedding Day Is About.
Danny’s brides three attendants all happened to be incredibly
attractive women. Danny elected to open his speech – his first public
address to his new bride – by pointing out that, no matter what course
the marriage might take, they could at least always say they had the
best damn good-looking bridesmaids ever. Um, yeah. Super. It’s the
Bride’s Day. Remember?
- Tell Inside Jokes – Overload on inside
jokes that only three people will get. You might make a quick reference
or two to something private you and the toastee shared, but don’t
overburden your speech with them. One measure of the good toast is the
nod factor that is, the portion of the people in the crowd nodding along
with you when you mention a certain quality the bride or groom
possesses. Inside stories achieve the opposite: they make people say to
their neighbour, What’s he talking about? So side-step sharing with the
entire room memories of that crazy night in Montreal only you and the
groom know about.
- Rely On Tired Cliches – Resort to
cliches and hyperbole. Yawn. Cliche words or phrases (Your beautiful
Inside and out) and blanket statements (You will never know what you
mean to me) scatter in the air like so much dandruff.
Get at the essence of the person about whom you’re speaking.
- Consider the person’s defining characteristics.
- Use specific anecdotes to demonstrate these characteristics.
- Identify an attractive aspect of the person only you know about – and share it.
Come up with words that resonate. Even if they aren’t the perfect words, they are yours.