Former president and soon-to-be father of the bride Bill Clinton is your ultimate toast-giving candidate: He's charismatic and funny and knows how to captivate a large audience. However, there are a few guidelines that the editors of BRIDES think he—and anyone else who's preparing for a wedding-day toast—should be aware of. (Chelsea, you can thank us later.)
Who should give a toast
It's now common for people other than the best man to speak—fathers, the groom, the maid of honor. But don't leave things to chance; the couple should decide ahead of time who will speak and in what order. (Chelsea might even want to glance at a draft of the speech before the big day so there are no surprises.)
What should be included in a toast
Toasts should always be positive—and clean. Customization is key: An anecdote about the just-marrieds is a plus, as is suggesting why they're perfect together. Toast givers can start by mentioning their connection to the couple, but should keep the focus on the bride and groom and off themselves. End with a wish for the couple's happiness. (Bill would do best to remember that today, Chelsea and her hubby, Marc, are the First Couple.)
When you should give a toast
A captive audience is a receptive audience. Good times for a toast: as the first course is being served, or right after the first dance. Be sure to give toast givers a heads-up, so they're not at the bar when it's showtime. (After his daughter put him on a strict diet to lose 15 pounds before the wedding, Bill might be feeling famished for that first course, so he can speak right after the first dance.)
Where you should stand when giving a toast
The toast giver can leave his seat and head for the microphone to make his big speech, or he can simply stand at his table and begin speaking. (We're betting Bill will prefer the podium, so make sure he's located somewhere close to the stage.)
How you should execute the toast
Anything over three minutes will have guests' eyes glazing over, so toast givers should keep it short, then sit down. (Remember, Bill, it's not a State of the Union address.)
What the couple does when someone is giving a toast
Since the toast is being made in your honor, remain seated when everyone else rises. Maintain eye contact with the toast giver—both as a morale booster and so guests will follow your cue. When everyone takes a sip of champagne at the end, the two of you should wait a minute before joining in, to avoid looking as though you're drinking to yourselves.
Ask the caterer not to pour the champagne toast way ahead of time—you want the bubbly in optimal sipping condition.
Not on a presidential budget? Here are some tasty $10 bubbly options:
—Marina Khidekel, BRIDES magazine