Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 10 wedding toast mistakes to avoid

(Photo credit: David Jones)

By guest blogger Sharon Naylor

If you are set to propose a toast at a wedding event -- whether the engagement party, the bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, and/or the wedding itself -- you are likely feeling a bit nerve-wracked. And you are not alone. Public speaking is one of the top phobias, and with all eyes on you at this momentous event -- not to mention the video camera -- you definitely want your toast to be a big success.

That means avoiding the top wedding toast mistakes that can turn your spotlight moment into an embarrassing, heart-pounding blunder. Here are the top things to side-step, whether you’re the bride or groom, or anyone making a wedding-related toast.

1.    Talking for too long. A great toast is brief, just a minute or two, not a long and rambling speech that tells everyone you just want to hear yourself speak.
2.    Talking about a prior intimate relationship. Never even hint at the bride's or groom's prior marriage or other intimate relationship, even if you’re trying to compliment the bride’s or groom’s (or your own) far better choice in partners. This is one topic to stay far away from.
3.    Rushing. When you’re nervous, you may have a tendency to speak too quickly, which increases your chances of stumbling over your words. Some toast-rushers have actually been on such high-speed that they said the wrong name of the bride or groom! So breathe, and consciously speak a little more slowly than you think you should. That often puts you at just the right speed.
4.    Being tipsy or drunk. You might think that having a few drinks will loosen you up and remove your nerves before your big toast, but it actually doesn’t work as well as you expect. Toast-givers who are tipsy embarrass themselves and the couple, and those who have really overdone it with the alcohol have no place taking the microphone.
5.    Fidgeting. Again, it’s those unconscious nerves at work, and you might not even notice that you’re shifting your weight from foot to foot, or touching your face or hair, or straightening your tie. Just breathe and be aware that all of these movements are more noticeable than you’d think, so consciously stay as still as you can.
6.    Not writing an actual toast ahead of time. You might consider yourself a great, natural speaker who can deliver a great toast off the cuff, but at the occasion of a wedding, it’s far smarter to write out your toast ahead of time so that your speech has that welcome beginning, middle and end, and so that you’re comfortable with what you wish to say.
7.    Not practicing your toast ahead of time. Read it a time or two aloud, and ask a friend to listen to it and give you feedback on whether your jokes fly or fall, if you sound like yourself, if the toast needs a better closing.
8.    Not being family-friendly. Keep the off-color stories to the bachelor or bachelorette party toasts, and never use foul language of any degree.
9.    Not focusing on the couple. If your toast takes place at any event honoring both bride and groom, that toast needs to mention both of them, not just the one you know. If you’re the maid of honor, you might talk about how long you’ve known the bride and the funny way you met, but if you just congratulate her and leave out the groom, that’s a less successful toast than one wishing the couple well.
10.    Worrying about getting emotional. It’s perfectly okay if you tear up and get emotional during your speech! The best toasts have a wonderful sentimentality to them, and everyone will be touched that you feel so deeply about what you’re saying.

Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, including “Your Special Wedding Toasts.”

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