Think you've got the perfect wedding toast prepared? Before you take the stage and the mic, make sure you're not about to commit one of these nine major mistakes.
Forgetting to thank the parents of the bride and groom.
"This is a big no-no," says Jesse Tombs, senior event producer for Alison Events in San Francisco. Why? Even if they didn't pay for the wedding, they did raise the two beautiful people you're honoring — and that deserves recognition.
Sharing inappropriate stories about the couple.
This is an especially unpleasant faux pas if the story involves an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, says Courtney Wolf, event planner at Alabama and Georgia-based Invision Events. "A wedding toast is neither the time nor place for those shenanigans!" she says.
Making the speech all about you.
Newsflash: The guests are not raising a glass to your life story — they're toasting to the love and future of the couple. "Introduce yourself and explain your relationship to the couple, but then move on to the bride and groom," says Tombs. "It's always so unbearable when a guest giving a speech makes it all about them."
Sharing inside jokes.
"The worst [toast I've witnessed] was a 35-minute speech full of inside jokes that were not funny," says Leigh Pearce, owner of Leigh Pearce Weddings in Greensboro, North Carolina. That "slightly intoxicated and awkward best man" didn't understand that no one else could possibly get the humor in his jokes — but you can certainly learn from his mistakes and stick to humor everyone can comprehend.
Reading from a piece of paper.
It's not easy, but it's worth memorizing your toast for maximum impact. Reading from a paper, notecard, or worse, your phone, "is just so impersonal," says Wolf.
Going off schedule.
"If the planner or bride and groom asks you to speak during the entrée course of dinner, do not do your toast during salad," Tombs says. You may not understand their timing, but there's a reason they slotted you at 7 p.m. "Stick to the timeline!"
Going on, and on, and on.
The worst toasts top the 10-minute mark. Don't "ramble on with no end in sight," Wolf says. "A good toast should be short and sweet, but most importantly, from the heart." (Three minutes is the sweet spot.)
Turning over the microphone without permission.
It's a wedding, not open mic night. "It is not your place to let other speak before or after you, unless the guest has been specifically asked," says Tombs.
You can avoid all these faux pas, however, if you stick to this simple speech plan laid out by Pearce: "I recommend to all my toasters that they break their toasts into five easy steps: Thank the host of the reception, speak positively to the bride, speak fondly to the groom, speak to the future of the couple, and raise your glass in a toast," says Pearce. "Even if each is a short but sweet sentence, you are sure to get oohs and ahs from the crowd and a happy couple."