My sister and brother-in-law asked me months ago to offer a toast at their wedding, and I agreed, acting as if I knew exactly what I would say. They know me well enough, though, that I suspect they knew I’d write it in the final days before the wedding—perhaps while the bride was assembling the bouquets, or sitting down to play the piano before heading to the church.
As my deadline loomed, I found myself mentally reviewing the wedding toasts I had heard over the years. I came to the absolutely unscientific conclusion that the best toasts do a few things:
1. They are brief.
2. They are amusing—and not just to the toast-er.
3. They give a little insight into the couple’s story.
4. They are upbeat and positive—and not necessarily profound.
5. They do not mention how hard a time the toast-er had coming up with the toast—or much of anything else about the toast-er.
6. They focus on the bride and groom.
7. They don’t regale the guests with numerous intoxicated or otherwise humiliating exploits on the part of the bride, groom, or anyone else in the room.
8. They end before everyone wishes they already had—and make it clear that it is time to clink and drink.
I wasn’t sure I could pull all of that off, so I decided to focus on being brief.
After all, I knew my two sons would not be enthusiastic about seeing Mama getting a turn with a microphone while they had to sit quietly in their seats. (Weddings involve a lot of sitting.)
And even antsier than my preschool-aged sons would be the bride and groom, who would be itching to get back onto the dance floor. (You should have seen how quickly they cut the cake. It was so fast I didn’t even know they had cut it until I saw pieces of cake on the dessert table.)
In the end, I wrote a light-hearted poem.
And because my sister is a librarian and my new brother-in-law is a writer (he’s assistant managing editor for The Catholic Review, in fact), I wanted it to begin as a story. Add in pies, dancing, how they met, a few wishes for them, and the toast was complete.
Then came the delivery:
There once was a girl who was wonderfully sweet.
And a boy who would sweep her clear off of her feet,
Not the first time they met—nor the fourth nor the fifth.
No, this story begins with some sliced Granny Smith.
See, the boy asked the girl if she’d like to stop by,
And she knocked on his door with a freshly baked pie.
Now he may not have known from that decadent bite,
But that pie baker is his new wife tonight.
She’s Irish and German. He’s Polish and Czech.
He’s been to Rome, Prague, and more, and she’s been to…Quebec.
He writes and she reads. Then together they blog.
They swing, jig, and reel—and he’s taught her to jog.
George was crowned polka champ six times or so,
And he once won a house—quite a lovely chateau.
But the prize of them all for this groom of her prayers
Is dear Treasa, who comes with her Pez and pie-wares.
May their home overflow with the love here tonight.
May they find in each other an endless delight.
May they be blessed to raise children who love Fred Astaire.
May they walk hand in hand joined forever in prayer.
May they meet every challenge with respect, and with love,
And never forget how they’re blessed from above.
Now I’ll invite each of you in this room,
To raise your glass high to the bride and the groom.
Our sons stayed in their seats, I didn’t drop the microphone or read the lines out of order, and I didn’t see anyone nodding off on the 15th line. And our boys drank their glasses of punch as they toasted their aunt and uncle.
But I need to add one more item to my list for toasting success.
9. Take a glass with you. Then you’ll gracefully be able to take a sip yourself at the conclusion of your toast instead of lunging back toward your table to try to find one in between your son’s Batmobile and the basket of Irish soda bread.
What would you add to the list? What makes a good wedding toast? Can you remember any exceptional ones?