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The dos and don’ts of wedding toasts

  • Charlotte Observer
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, at 11:32 p.m.

Couldn’t we all just gush about our best friend for hours? High school days, wild beach trips, bonding over broken hearts and the countless memories that make you two inseparable.

But stick a microphone in our hands and stand us in front of 200 people, and suddenly we’re at a loss for words.

If you’re a bridesmaid, especially the maid of honor, you should prepare yourself for the possibility of giving a toast. And although the thought of delivering a speech on the most important day of your friend’s life can be intimidating, you should remember that it’s an honor.

Just follow these guidelines when preparing for your moment in the spotlight:

• Do talk to the bride at least a month before the wedding to find out whether she would like you to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner, reception or both. You’ll need to give yourself time to prepare.

• Do start off your toast by introducing yourself and mentioning how you met the bride. You can’t expect everyone in attendance to know who you are.

• Don’t go overboard with quotes. Everyone from Socrates to Shakespeare has beautifully crafted words of wisdom. But at the wedding, everyone wants to hear from you, not some dead guy. Picking out a great quote that’s relevant to the bride and groom can be a fantastic addition to your toast, but just stick with the one.

• Do add some humor. Sure, everyone will think you’re sweet when you get a little teary-eyed describing how you cherish the bride like a sister, but watching you sob is just awkward. Make sure you mix some funny in with the sentimental. But …

• Don’t tell embarrassing stories about the bride or groom. Her drunken escapades during that spring break cruise were hilariously spectacular and worthy of retelling – at the bachelorette party. If you wouldn’t want your or her grandparents to hear it, leave it out. Other topics to avoid: ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and inside jokes.

• Don’t forget the groom in your toast. Compliment him, give an example of why he and the bride are so great together or tell the crowd how you knew he was the one for your girl.

• Do practice your toast. This will help keep you confident and your voice steady when the big moment comes. Practice in front of a friend, or at the very least, have someone you trust read over what you plan to say. This will also give you a chance to time yourself. Keep your well-wishes under five minutes long. And no matter how much you rehearse, write down your toast and have it on hand during the wedding day in case you blank under pressure.

• Do end your toast with the classic raising of your glass and saying, "To the bride and groom!"

Reach Meghan Cooke at macooke@charlotteobserver.com.

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