We are deep into wedding season. Which means that at this point you’ve probably been to, like, one wedding. If you’re like me and only have 3 friends. Otherwise probably more weddings. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not lamenting the fact that you’ve probably been to more weddings than myself. I revel in it. I mean sure, weddings are beautiful celebrations of the love that two people have, but they’re also social events where you end up hanging with some people you know and a lot of people you don’t. That doesn’t sound like fun to me. Yeah, there’s booze that’s free (if the bar ‘aint open, I ‘aint goin’), but it’s just completely exhausting having to introduce yourself to strangers, make small talk, and bust out your best worm on the dance floor to quiet the haters.
The only thing that makes this experience worse is when you’re tapped to give a toast. Now, I have tons of experience being in front of people for various reasons (both nude and otherwise – wink), so it’s not like I have social anxiety about it. But giving a wedding toast is a nuanced affair. It’s very easy to screw up, and while most people accept that there’s always going to be an awkward toast at a wedding, you still don’t want to be the person giving that awkward toast. To avoid being that guy/gal, keep these tips in mind:
The numero uno tip is to be mindful of time. You don’t have to literally time yourself (it’d be weird if you’re holding a stopwatch instead of a champagne glass), but keep a mental note of how long you’re going. Far too many times I’ve seen a decent toast self-implode when the toaster doesn’t know when to wrap it up. I’d say limit yourself to 2 minutes at the absolute max. And if you find yourself running way too long, stop whatever you were rambling about, call yourself out on it, and raise your glass. At least you’ll salvage some laughs.
If you’re really worried, just have a friend stand in the back of the audience and keep track of time. If you’re running long, just have them hold their phone up and wave it. You’ll be the only person to see it, and you’ll be saved from a ramble.
Keep The Personal Stuff Personal
The tricky thing with a wedding toast is that it’s for the new couple, but it’s also for the audience. So it’s a good idea to bring up a short anecdote that exemplifies the relationship you have with the bride and/or groom. But don’t bust out some super-personal or inside joke story that the majority of the audience won’t understand. Sure, the couple will appreciate it, but no one else will know what the hell’s going on.
If you want to be insightful, or say something deep and profound that will floor everyone in the room, you need to be prepared. Unless you’re some sort of walking sage, you’ll have to do some research and figure out exactly the quote/lesson/mind-blowing thing you want to say. Worse than a failed joke is when someone tries to be deep, but screws it up, and ends up looking like a dummy. The added risk of going the deep/meaningful route is that 99% of the time, the father of the bride will say something incredibly deep and heartfelt. Apparently it’s some superpower you gain when you’re a middle-to-old-aged father. So basically anything you say that’s deep will look like child’s play when the father stands up, says “Well I don’t really have anything prepared,” and proceeds to amble his way into the most profound thing you’ve heard in your life.
Be Funny — But Don’t Force It
Comedy is golden for a toast. It exemplifies that this is a joyous occasion, that people are celebrating, and that everyone wants to have a good time. That being said, you can’t be cavalier with your jokes. If you make an attempt and you don’t even get a single chuckle, it’s best to back away and change your strategy. And keep the insults to a minimum. Some harmless ribbing is generally approved of, but keep in mind that this is a toast not a roast. No one wants to hear you call out the bride or groom. When in doubt, self-deprecation works best.
At the end of the day, the thing that all these tips address is that you’re there for the couple. This is their day. So anything that you say that adds to that sentiment is good, anything that takes away is bad. And if you’re really struggling, just memorize the following line (you’re welcome).
“Every so often you come across two people who are just completely perfect for each other. That’s [INSERT COUPLE’S NAME HERE]. I can’t believe how lucky I am to know [INSERT PERSON YOU KNOW MORE], and to be able to see [HIM/HER] here today, beginning what will surely be a happy and fulfilled life. Here’s to you two. Slainte!”