Wedding Toasts: Top Five Things to Avoid When Giving a Wedding Speech
Being tapped to give a wedding toast is a big honor – but it can also be intimidating, especially if you aren’t experienced with public speaking. The good news is that giving a wedding speech is really not that bad, and there are in a fact a lot of ways to make the toasting experience fun and memorable. The bad news is that, well, things can go wrong. But, to close on an up note, the worst pratfalls are pretty easy to avoid. Here are five things of which to steer clear.
# 5 – Don’t Drink Too Much Before Giving a Wedding Speech
This may seem obvious, but it can be a little tricky. First, to state what really should be obvious – don’t overindulge in order to sooth your nerves. The result would be likely to be exactly the sort of thing that should make you nervous – while the sober you would have likely done just fine.
A more likely, and insidious, scenario is this. You never plan to overdue it, and, in fact, you fully intend to keep your faculties intact for the big moment. But you’re a member of the wedding party. There’s alcohol all day, and everyone is pushing it on you. (Weddings can expose you to levels of peer pressure unrivaled since Junior High.) On top of all this, chances are that there won’t be much food available during the (long) day leading up to the toast. The result? A drink here and a drink there, all on an empty stomach, and it catches up with you when you’re about to go “on stage.”
#4 – Hold the Exes
You might have a killer anecdote about the bride or groom. But if it involves an ex, then it runs the risk of giving “killer anecdote” a new definition. And be careful about editing a story so that the ex is conspicuous by his or her absence. If everyone knows that the story from that one trip is a story from that one trip that he took with her, the fact that you never actually mentioned her might not be enough to save everyone from some lingering discomfort.
#3 – Keep the Wedding Toast Family-Friendly
Even if it’s an adults-only reception, a wedding reception is still, pretty much by definition, a family affair. And you won’t know everyone, or know what everyone’s “limits” are as far as what’s in good taste. So err on the side of keeping things clean.
#2 – Don’t Go Too Long
This is really the cardinal rule. A lot of people are worried that they won’t be able to think of enough to say – and overcorrect wildly. So give yourself permission to keep things concise. What’s more, if you write something out beforehand, keep in mind that text on a page can take a surprisingly long time to read aloud as a speech. (If you doubt this, look up the text of a major public speech, such as a Presidential address. You’ll likely be surprised by how little text goes into, say, an hour-long State of the Union address, and how quick a read the speech is on the page.) So, if you do work off of a prepared text, make sure you’ve rehearsed it, and that you’re comfortable with how long it takes to deliver – and, more importantly, that the guests will be comfortable with the length.
#1 – Don’t Worry Too Much
The good news is that all of these pratfalls are pretty easy to avoid – especially if you’re conscious of them and know to keep them in mind. Avoid overthinking things, and do your best to stay relaxed.
Remember that, as long as you keep things moving along, the room will be rooting for you to do well – and you’ll probably oblige. Cheers!