Seven Components of a Bad Wedding Toast

Your sister / brother / best friend / cousin / mechanic is getting married, and you’ve been asked to the maid of honor / best man / emcee. One of your chief jobs, and perhaps the most daunting part of being in the wedding, is to prepare and deliver the wedding toast. This honor comes with a huge responsibility. Your toast may very well end up setting the mood for the entire wedding meal, the entire wedding, or the bride and groom’s entire life! Take this task that’s been bestowed upon you seriously. Below are seven components of a bad wedding toast; by avoiding these seven components, you can hopefully avert a celebration-killing, wedding toast disaster.

Too long. If you’ve noticed that people are getting up to go to the bathroom, using the bathroom, stopping on their way back to their seats to greet Great-Aunt Sally and then finally sitting back down all during the course of your toast, then you seriously need to wrap it up. Length is a key factor in bad wedding toasts, specifically long lengths. If your wedding toast goes over two minutes, you’re doing it wrong. A wedding toast that is too long and long-winded is a major factor in delivering a bad wedding toast. People want to eat, dance, and chat, not sit there wondering which will occur first- the end of your toast or the sweet release of death.

Too self-centered. Nobody cares who you are. They care about hearing the bride and groom be toasted and celebrated, not how you met the groom during your time in college when you couldn’t decide what to major in and you were dating this awful girl Sheila and pitching a medical drama to NBC (they took a pass) because you love to write and you think medicine is fascinating on TV shows but not fascinating enough to actually want to be a doctor and that’s why you ended up in used car sales at that lot near the expressway, the one with the inflatable monkey. The wedding toast is not about you. This is not the forum for your auto-biography and how it dimly relates to the reason we’re all gathered at the VFW today.

Too serious. Beware the wedding toast buzz kill. A bad wedding toast will deflate the feeling of energy and joy in the wedding. Mentioning dead people is okay in a sweet, brief sort of appropriate way, but don’t dwell on the bride’s deceased twin sister. Or how the groom lost his job last week. Or the bride’s struggle with drug addiction back in college. Think of these words. Light-hearted. Fun. Inspiring. A bad wedding toast is the opposite of these three words. A bad wedding toast invokes tears of sadness rather than joy. If it’s sensitive, serious, and heavy, don’t go there.

Too funny. Ah, yes. For every too-serious wedding toast, there’s a too-funny wedding toast that has a third of the wedding guests laughing, albeit uncomfortably, another third whispering “Well I never!’ to one another, and a final third burying their face in their hands wondering how the wedding toaster could have thought this was a good idea. It’s okay to poke the right amount of fun at the happy couple, but when it starts to feel like you’re roasting the bride and groom and the jokes are basically insults, it’s possible that you’ve gone too far. Don’t be mean. Be nice. Mostly.

Too drunk. Sure, a couple gin and tonics will take the edge off before the big toast, but there’s a fine line between using a little liquid courage and being a fall down drunk. Signs that a toaster has had too much too drink include slurred language, mid-sentence belching, declaring foolish amounts of love for various people, having loosened or lost key pieces of clothing, sporting mussed up hair or smeary make-up, teetering back and forth while talking, incessant and uneven babbling, and an abrupt end to the toast that leaves wedding guests unsure of if they should clap, clink glasses, or quietly leave the room. A drunk toast is usually a bad toast.

Too ill-prepared. You’ve only had eighteen months to prepare for this one little toast. The bride and groom only gave you a year and half notice of this one, minute sliver of your life. And here you are with absolutely nothing to say. An overlooked component of the bad wedding toast is often the fact that the toast-giver overlooked the wedding toast! Really, it only takes about twenty minutes to craft a speech, and that’s if you need to look up synonyms for “awesome.” So, don’t disrespect the bride and groom and start talking when you haven’t the faintest idea of what to say.

Too prepared. And for every blustering idiot who’s up there holding the microphone with nothing to say, there’s the wedding toast giver who’s reading directly from a stack of typed index cards. The audience feels like they’re being walked through a PowerPoint presentation, minus the overhead projector. It’s true that you can be too prepared for a wedding toast, and this can translate into a dry speech lacking whimsy, spontaneity, and humor. Pauses are too planned, too awkward. The wedding toast giver is basically a robot, and every word is too calculated, too careful.

Don’t give a bad wedding toast on the bride and groom’s big day. There’s too much at stake, and there’s too much to lose- friendship, dignity, and maybe even access to the open bar.