A Theater Critic Advises On How To Give A Wedding Toast

The church ceremony is over, the bride and groom have been introduced at the reception and before the banquet begins someone from the wedding party — most often the best man, but perhaps the maid or matron of honor as well — stands up to give a toast in honor of the newly united couple.

What follows could be a tender tribute to a perfect day. Or it could be a clumsy, tedious — or worse — embarrassing address to the crowd as guests squirm uncomfortably, heads look downward and eyes gaze longingly at their watches.

What should be a lovely moment remembered for years to come is instead the stuff we all try to delete from our memory banks.

As a longtime theater critic, I appreciate good drama, but the wedding day should be filled with tender moments, not fraught with tension. Using my years of experience in understanding what makes a wonderful soliloquy and a glorious moment in the spotlight, here are a few tips to those who are given the assignment to say a few words.

1. Say a FEW words. Short is indeed sweet, especially when one has little to say or is grasping at clichés. The mundane speech may not make the Facebook page but its brevity will be appreciated. And if you do land an effective moment, thought or anecdote — stop. Declare victory. It’s always better to leave them wanting more.

2. Take your time. There’s no need to rush, especially if your toast is relatively brief. Speak clearly, loudly and learn how to use the microphone. (No tap-tap-tap, “Is this on?”) Give each phrase weight. It will give your toast a sweet, sincere gravitas.


Frank Rizzo