Wedding toasts should be memorable, not humiliating

In this age of camcorders, this is not a good way to be remembered.

Weddings are usually highly prepared and organized events. The toast should be given no less thought and attention, especially if you've been singled out for the honor by the couple. The following are suggestions and resources to help make your 15 seconds of fame bring a smile to the faces of those celebrating the new marriage.

The Wedding Circle Web site ( has a great section on giving toasts.

One of the first things you're asked to consider is why you've been chosen to speak at the wedding. Are you a close friend of the bride and/or groom? Are you a wise person who can give sage advice? Are you a funny, outgoing kind of person? Or is it simply that you are an important figure in this wedding and are expected to speak? Figuring this out can help you decide what you're going to say.

Be sensitive in the story you tell. You want it to be personal and easily understandable to everyone on the scene, but not an exercise in humiliation. Ask the bride and groom what is off limits. Bringing up past romances is not a good idea. Recounting how the couple met usually is.

Lacking some kind of pithy finale? Pick up a copy of Diane Warner's "Complete Book of Wedding Toasts" (Career Press).

She has lots of sample toasts for different members of the wedding party, for different ethnic groups and for different days — weddings held on New Year's Day or Valentine's Day, for example.

On the Wedding Circle Web site, you'll find examples sent in by people around the world. Some are corny, some trite, some downright tacky ("The vows have been said, the cake has been cut, let's hope — bride's name — doesn't grow a big butt."), but others are full of sentiment and good wishes. ("May the most you wish for be the least you receive. May the best times you've ever had be the worst you'll ever see.")

Once you have the speech and toast down, edit them. That old expression "Brevity is the soul of wit" is on the mark. Keep it short and interesting. Read it aloud to hear how it sounds, and to check if you're repeating words or if there's something awkward about it. Get another opinion or two, and revise if necessary. Then make the toast yours by reviewing it until you're comfortable reciting it without having to read from notes.

Even if public speaking is not high on your skills list, you can shine for that moment or so when the focus is on you. Just stand up carefully, pick a couple of faces toward the back of the room to project your voice to and take your time in delivering the words.

If you're comfortable with what you've written, you won't have to keep shuffling index cards or make long pauses. Instead, you'll be relaxed, inject a little emotion into the words and keep your audience's attention.

Here are some dos and don'ts:

*Do project your voice so everyone can hear you.

*Do pause occasionally so as not to rush the speech.

*Don't gesture wildly with your hands. It's distracting and you might knock something or someone over.

*Don't play with your hair or shake the keys in your pocket.

*Do smile and try to have a good time.

Can anyone at the wedding make a toast? According to Bride's magazine, the best man makes the first toast, to which the groom responds, thanking the best man, his parents and new in-laws.

After that, the bride may want to make her own toast, followed by the couple's parents and the guests.

The person giving the toast should stand and those receiving it should stay seated. The receiver should also not lift a glass at the toast. That would be like applauding for yourself. Wait to sip, Bride's instructs, until the fanfare dies down.