Toastmasters

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Last night I had dinner with some friends, one of whose twin sister just got married. As the maid-of-honor, she was tapped to give a heartwarming toast at the reception. Luckily, this friend (also a magazine editor) is gifted with words, so she had no problem expressing the requisite tear-jerking sentiments. But she also has a comedic streak—ideal, since most would agree a well-positioned punch line tends to be the hallmark of a great wedding speech. As she repeated her toast for us at the table, we laughed and wiped our eyes as I imagine the guests did at the actual event.

This got me thinking about the pressure of giving a good toast. I remember agonizing about it when I was the maid-of-honor at my best friend's wedding; I was so nervous I couldn't really enjoy the reception until I spoke (which I'm sure was the last thing she'd want). I was even worse at my brother's rehearsal dinner (it didn't help that the animated photo montage I'd prepared to play after my speech suffered from technical difficulties moments before I took the mic). In those cases I was more worried about being overcome with emotion than flubbing my words (both went really well, by the way, so the anxiety was unwarranted). But I've definitely been at weddings where jokes fell flat—or worse, offended—or the speaker rambled on.

Are you at all worried about your wedding toasts? Have you laid ground rules for those who will be speaking? Or did you pick people based on their ability to work a crowd? —Elaine Stuart, senior associate features/travel editor, Modern Bride

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