Wednesday, February 11, 2009

our planning :: 17 :: toast or roast

The toast -- it's a moment to share wonderful stories about the newlyweds and give insightful advice, but it's also an opportunity to simply say the wrong thing. It is a tradition to have someone share a few words followed with a toast of some bubbly in honor of the bride and groom. Who delivers it can be planned or unplanned, but in the end, it should be a moment that is remembered -- and in a good way! I think some level of planning should be involved when it comes to the toast.

Traditionally, the father of the bride gives a toast in welcoming the groom. I'm not sure I can say I've seen it happen, but I hope to witness more of them! For the modern couple, a toast is typically given by the MOH or MaOH and the best man (men). But any one from the bridal party is also common. If you're looking to do something different, try having the couple who has been married the longest share some words of marriage wisdom.

There are a few things that the couple might want to consider when it comes to the toast.

  1. To ask or not ask. Couples may want to hear toasts from specific people or leave the mic open for any one willing. If the couple prefers to ask a specific person(s) to prepare a toast and he/she is uneasy, the couple should give the person some time to make a decision. They can approach the Q a 2nd time, and if the 2nd invitation is rejected, the couple should simply find another person who would be interested. Public speaking is one of the top fears! Here is a great article on how to overcome public speaking: "How to Conquer Public Speaking Fear" by Morton C. Orman, M.D.
  2. Plan ahead. The people who are toasting ought to have enough time to prepare. Few are great at "winging" it, but most folks aren't. A good, long month or two should suffice.
  3. How many people should toast? It's completely up to the couple. E.g., if the bride and groom plan to have 4 toasts delivered, they can break them up into two groups throughout the night. It makes for a great transition and will definitely grab the guests' attention. But it's also wonderful to witness one awesome, tear-jerking delivery.
  4. Time matters. If the couple is concerned with staying on time with the reception itinerary, it's advisable to determine a certain amount of time (in min). A 20 min delivery can be grueling. If more than 2 people are giving a toast, allowing 3-5 minutes each is realistic. It's not a matter of seeing who prepared the longest speech; it's about the message or value of what's been said.
Photo of Vern delivering the toast

There are a few things that the person giving the toast might want to consider when it comes to the toast.
  1. Practice. The person delivering the toast should time him/herself and practice in the mirror -- more than once. No need to memorize, just get comfortable with the delivery. Much like we did in school! It works.
  2. Practice/Proofread with someone else. I'd suggest that the outline be read by a male and female -- two different point-of-views. Some males tend to write with a masculine tone and some females, a little bit lengthy. Were the points made tactfully? Was it too long? Were the transitions smooth? Is the grammar correct? Was the purpose recognizable?
  3. What's the message? Is there a clear message? Words of advice? Sharing old stories? The person delivering the toast should prepare a story that is easy to follow, with vivid, positive memories, and then tie them into an overall message. He'll knock the socks off guests with an inspirational conclusion.
  4. Toast or roast. Back to "proofreading it with someone else" -- they can tell the toast-ee right off the bat if it's a toast or roast. And please -- speakers, steer clear of mentioning any of the ex's, or being on the "rebound," or wicked debaucheries, or pretty much anything that would seem as if the toast is "roasting" the bride or groom. All eyes are on the speaker. He/she may think he's painting a picture of the couple, when unfortunately, he's painting a picture of himself. It's ok to embarrass with good intent, but refrain from humiliation -- huge difference.
Photo of Noel, Abe's best man, delivering the toast

Abe and I kind of shared the idea with our bridal party to get a feel for who would want to do the toast, and then approached (3) ladies and (2) gents. Seemed like a lot, but we pre-determined 3 min for each toast and worked the transitions to ensure a timely delivery. We split them into two groups during the dinner. For the ladies' toasts, my older sis and Maoh, Germaline, shared a few words and my bf and BM, Cyril prepared a 4 min toast. Ginger, Abram's sister and one of my BMs, sweetly welcomed me into their family. Noel, Abe's Best Man and Vern, one of his groomsmen, prepared speeches and carried us through comedic stories with Abram. We also had two additional, surprise toasts, given by Abe's other Best Man, Vic -- which ended up being a tear-jerker, and Abe's bro-in-law, Charles, who was graceful with his message. Total, (7) folks shared the mic, all at different times throughout the evening. Each message was heard, delivered fairly quickly, and was full of good intent.

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