‘Why everyone hates wedding toasts”, “A tradition we can do without”, “Wedding Toast Survival Tips” — titles from my recent google search on wedding toasts.
Yes, people do not like public speaking in general. It is difficult to risk putting ourselves “out there” for others to see. Many of us are shy and experience stage fright, particularly if a microphone is handed to us. And like you, I’ve read the posts indicating that toasts are not just difficult for the “toaster”, but for vendors too, who struggle to manage the event and keep within a particular time frame.
To be sure, there is no shortage of anxiety and nervousness at a wedding. It is tempting to eliminate this tradition that, it may seem, has outlived it’s usefulness and has few supporters. Don’t.
Being asked to provide a toast is an honor. It is a recognition of a shared bond. Toasting is a connection to an earlier time. By accepting, you are acknowledging and supporting the new couple. It may feel somewhat burdensome to be asked, but it truly is not intended as such — and it doesn’t mean you need to contort yourself into a pretzel of originality and praise worthy prose.
Wedding Toast Anxiety Reducing Strategies:
- Keep your remarks “in your wheelhouse”. If poetry is your thing, create a poem. If you are most comfortable keeping your comments lighthearted, do it.
- Keep it short. Hopefully you were provided guidance, but if not — ask for it. A couple minutes can feel like an eternity if you are not comfortable. You are not the evening’s entertainment.
- Write it down and rehearse. Memorization is not required or expected. If a note card helps, use it — though reading a paragraph word-for-word is not engaging.
A note to you “toasters”… any anxiety you may be feeling will likely be a fraction of the nerves being felt by the couple. Why not expand your supportive role and check-in with the bride or groom and see how they and their anxieties are doing. In addition to just being a good listener, you might have an opportunity to suggest some “day-of” stress reducers.
Two Easy To Implement Wedding “Day-of” Stress Reducers:
- Couple agrees on a “safe word” or a gesture that, when spoken/motioned by either, means he or she is in immediate need of a break from whatever or whomever – right now, no questions asked. You then excuse the both of you for a minute.
- Advise the planner, the officiant, the DJ – of potential anxiety inducing moments for the couple and let these professionals do their job — looking out for the couple and making sure they are prepared should there be a moment of stage fright.
A toast is an ancient tradition – a way of symbolizing camaraderie by raising a glass together to celebrate. Your toast is an opportunity to connect an important part of a bride or groom’s past with their future by sharing a bit of yourself and your shared history with the couple’s friends and family. If your remarks are sincere and you speak in a way that is authentically you, you will have succeeded. For inspiration, watch this video of a heartfelt toast from a dad to his son and son-in-law .