Tasteful Toasts - Microphone
“No toast except his own should last longer than 60 seconds.”
– Mark Twain

Last June I witnessed the worst, most horrific and tragic toast in my life. The best man, who by all accounts was sober, grabbed the microphone and proceeded to embarrass everyone at the reception. His voice boomed throughout the ballroom as he began, “There once was a bride from France,” and after concluding the off-color limerick he forged on, “There once was a groom from Nantucket.” The guests were not amused. The newlyweds, their parents and grandparents were mortified. This soon to be ex-friend must have thought his humor would be enjoyed by all, but he was sorely mistaken. His major faux pas reinforces my need to blog on toasting etiquette. 

The purpose of a toast is to shine a gentle spotlight around and pay tribute to the honored guest or event. Toasts typically proffer well wishes, good fortune, long life, health, happiness, sage advice or other positive thoughts. Composing a toast that is eloquent, poignant, whimsical and witty can be a challenge and worth every effort.

If presented well, every father of the bride will raise his glass with glee and every mother to great grandmother will declare a “tissue moment.” For example, the following toast, which I wrote for my brother’s wedding, is simple yet heart felt:

Your marriage makes a perfect start
For every life is a work of art
Paint a picture filled with bliss
Treasured in your lover's kiss
Wedding vows are truly strong
May yours last forever long

I skipped over several steps like your introduction, explaining how you’re related to the guest of honor, and jumped to the actual toast (more entries for later). In this posting I will share the three B’s for delivering a successful toast: be brief, be bold, be done.

In most cases, less is more. Keeping your remarks short gives your toast a greater impact and gets you on and off the stage. Well crafted words and a succinct delivery will be appreciated by your audience and more likely remembered for years to come.

Stand proud and speak loud. Ensure everyone in the room, including folks sitting in the back row, can hear your tasteful toast. Belting out to the rafters may not be needed. A quick run-through in the room before the crowd assembles will calm frayed nerves and help you gauge how far to project your voice.

When finished sit down. Avoid the urge to take a bow or return for an encore. Smile, nod, and accept any applause or acknowledgements then refocus the spotlight on the guest of honor.

As a distinguished Toastmaster and professional magician of more than twenty-five years, I’ve performed and observed thousands of speeches ranging from exceptional, to decent, to bury-me-now. Overall, I recommend avoiding dirty jokes and risqué stories. Veer towards the white wedding light with words that praise and inspire.

My goal is to post useful and practical information covering topics from tasteful toasting etiquette to proper party planning. Subscribe now to my blog so you too can benefit from my years of experience.

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