Giving a wedding toast can feel like a big responsibility, especially when you've attended enough weddings to see just how good (or bad) they can be. Here are six simple tips for giving a great wedding toast.
My father-in-law gave a wonderful and memorable toast at our wedding. He said simply:
"There have been four perfect days in my life: the day I married my wife, the day our first son was born, the day our second son was born, and today."
1) Quality over quantity.
I once attended a wedding where the mother of the bride took out a stack of index cards and began a recital of her daughter’s life story…starting with kindergarten! Contrast that with a recent experience where the matron of honor flung open an outsized paper scroll, as if she were going to tell all, but instead highlighted a just few cherished memories. One toast had the bride squirming; the other had us all feeling included in a very special relationship.
2) Don’t try too hard to be funny.
Unless you have a comedic knack and are comfortable speaking in front of large groups, don’t shoot for the toast equivalent of a stand-up comedy routine. Remember that most people at a wedding are already happy and enjoying themselves…and perhaps a little tipsy as well. You’re likely to get plenty of laughs without trying too hard to be funny.
3) Be willing to show your feelings.
There are many reasons why people hesitate to express their emotions. They may be nervous, afraid of crying too much, or they may not want to come across as overly sentimental. While hysterical crying may not be preferable to a flat affect, showing your feelings will help people relate to you. A good toast engages the wedding couple and other guests – finding a way to express your feelings automatically does that.
Don’t rush through your toast. Often a well-placed pause is enough to garner a good laugh. Similarly, slowing down will help you keep your emotions in check, letting you show your feelings without being overwhelmed by them. Slowing down gives others time to absorb the significance of your words and adds poignancy to your toast.
5) Be authentic.
You’ve been asked to give a toast or feel inspired to offer one because of your relationship with the couple. You can trust that your unique perspective is meaningful enough without worrying about adding bells and whistles. If you share with them a passion for poetry, perhaps you’ll include a short poem in your toast. If it’s a love of the outdoors or an affinity for old cars, let that come through. If it’s simply that you’re delighted to share in their wedding day, just say that. Being authentic is more important – not to mention memorable – than trying to be something you’re not.
6) Remember why you’re there.
Giving a toast can feel like a big responsibility, especially if you’re not used to public speaking. In thinking about a toast that will be witty, meaningful and memorable, it’s easy to lose perspective on why you’re there. Remember that as large as the toast may loom in your mind, even the best toast fades in comparison to the happiness of the couple and the joy of the day. Or, at least, we should all hope it does.
Valentine's Day is almost here again. Cupids and hearts, roses and chocolate...it's all about love. And whether it fills you with joy or dread, the holiday seems here to stay.
Usually when we think about love, we think about romantic, or emotional love. Emotional love is wonderful, but it’s centered on an interpersonal transaction; on having our love reflected back to us by someone else.
When we need emotional love to feel that we have love, though, we always need someone else in the equation. That’s because we see love as a need waiting to be met, rather than an innate quality ready to be shared.
The poet Rumi wrote a lot about love. He said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Every day we are presented with opportunities, large and small, to say Yes to love. Held back by fear and uncertainty, we say no.
But choosing love allows for the possibility of being more of who we truly are! Which is free. Which is eternal. Unlimited. Unbound.
Ram Dass says, “From the ego’s vantage point, you surrender to love. From the soul’s vantage point, you are coming home.” So you’re not thinking about loving; you just are love. And the awesome thing is, we’re all love! When we look at another being, we’re looking at love. It’s like the Namaste ritual; when you look into someone else’s eyes and recognize the same essence that’s in them is in you.
Love exists in all of us. It’s the core of our deepest self. And when we live from that place of love, when we make choices based on that love, when we share that love with one another, we bless the whole world.
There’s a famous Marianne Williamson quote from her book, A Return To Love, which says, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Conversations With God says, “When you choose the action love sponsors, then you will do more than survive, then you will do more than win, then you will do more than succeed.”
Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other.”
Ramana Maharshi said, “Love is alpha and omega.”
Ram Dass tells us Maharaj-ji’s only teaching is love. It’s the beginning, the middle and the end.
In The Path to Tranquility, the Dalai Lama said, “The foundation of all spiritual practice is love.”
So practice. Practice choosing love. Choose love with your family. Choose love with your friends. Choose love with a stranger. And choose love with yourself. I promise, it will change your life.
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.