There is no specific rule on how long you must speak while delivering a wedding toast, however, there should be.
Wedding receptions are long enough without you giving a twenty-five minute speech on why the bride and groom make a great couple. Toasting at a wedding is both an honor and a responsibility. A toast is supposed to be a mini-speech and should have an opening, body and hasty conclusion. Remember, it’s a toast, not a roast. Be gentle.
While attending a reception at a recent wedding, after everyone was seated the father of the Bride was asked to give a toast. He went on and on and spoke for nearly fifteen minutes. The father of the Groom was next. His toast was about the same. Then the mother of the Groom took over with another 10 minutes. Next, the maid of honor, then the best man. To top it off a guy came forward with a ukulele and sang and played and hummed and played and sung some more for another 8 or 9 minutes.
The guests were getting restless. Many were disappearing to run the newly married’s bar tab up (some already finished their champagne) and others began talking among themselves totally ignoring what was going on behind the microphone. Yes, I know that was rude, and so was the lack of “toast coaching” and disregard for the feelings of the guests who were getting very hungry. A few of the guests were getting toasted on alcohol.
One guy at my table leaned over and whispered, “I’m thinking the food is getting cold!”
Kirsten Lasinski said, “Wedding receptions need to have a comfortable flow from one activity to the next. People want to keep things moving, and there may be more than one toast that needs to be made. Photographers, disc jockeys, and caterers are often paid on an hourly basis, so the bride and groom may have a vested interest in your ability to be brief. Besides, the shorter your toast, the easier it will be for you to remember.”
I would add that the shorter your toast, the more “you” will be remembered for it. After droning on for nearly an hour of toasts (I would call them ego boosters), the DJ finally began releasing tables for the buffet.
HOT TIP: Short and sweet is best! Let your toasters know ahead of time that there is a 2 minute time limit. Most guests will be very forgiving as long as your toast is heartfelt, decent, and relatively short. A TV commercial is only 30 seconds long. Only confident and competent speakers should go longer than two minutes. 1 to 2 minutes maximum is recommended. Smile, introduce yourself and your relationship to the bride and groom, toast quickly and sit down. In other words, Stand Up. Speak Up. Then, very quickly, Shut Up. Save the long, emotional toast for the rehearsal dinner.
Never drink before you toast. Your speech should be spoken, not slurred. When booze talks you are headed for disaster. Liquid courage is not the answer. Alcohol has ruined more wedding toasts than any other factor.
I was attending another reception where the best man was so obviously drunk that he could not read what he had written. The first clue was that he weaved his way to the podium, stumbled, and then proceeded to deliver an incoherent toast. He went on and on, laughing, swaying back and forth and halfway apologizing for not being able to read his toast. It was getting worse by the minute. He was focusing on how difficult marriage is and he made it look like the marriage was doomed to fail. Most of the guests were squirming uncomfortably in their seats. Some began to applaud to encourage him to take a seat. Nothing worked.
After about 5 or 6 minutes of watching and hearing him make a total fool of himself, l leaned over and said to the father of the bride who was sitting beside me, “This is embarrassing for the bride and groom. Why don’t you and I go up and escort him off the stage?” We did with very little protest from the best man. We took him outside to get some air – the guests applauded – and when what he had done finally hit him, be began to cry and wanted to go back inside and apologize to everyone. Not a chance!
HOT TIP: Schedule the toasting early so there isn’t enough time for anyone to get truly intoxicated. You should instruct your emcee (typically the DJ or band leader) that soon as they hear any crude remarks, sex talk or drunken rhetoric, that should be a signal to interrupt the speaker or cut the microphone entirely, depending on the extremity of the comment and introduce someone else or get the music going.
If you have a relative or close friend who is not as excited about the two of you being together, don’t ask him or her to give a toast at the reception. If they ask to give one anyway, graciously decline.
Have the DJ make an announcement that requests and gets the guests’ attention before the first toast begins. Instruct the toaster that they shouldn’t begin talking until the crowd has simmered down.
If you’re the toaster, remember to speak loudly and clearly, even if you’re nervous. And for goodness sake hold the microphone at least several inches in front of your mouth not at your waist.
For the string of toasts at the reception dinner, either appoint an emcee or have your DJ provide banter and ensure that no one goes on forever. Make sure he knows that it’s okay to shut someone down – politely, of course – if someone decides to make it a 15 minute speech. It might also be nice to have him announce a 2 minute time limit for each toast.
HOT TIP: Here is one rule to be sure you know. After the toast, the bride and groom, should “never” take a drink to toast themselves. This is construed by etiquette mavens as patting yourself on the back. Instead, they should stand and respond with thanks or by offering another toast.
Read, “Tips on Giving a Wedding Toast.”
NOTE: By the way, the names in the title of this article have been changed to protect the guilty! 😉
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.
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