You’re all dressed up and  going through the motions the night before the big wedding.  It is funny and sweet, watching everyone line up and practice for the ceremony.  And you’re pretty darned hungry, given the time of day – so you’re more than happy to head on over to the After Rehearsal Dinner Celebration. 

There’s a banquet table bursting with food, a backyard barbecue a-roastin’, or a formal, seated dinner with a place card embellished with your name right where you are sitting. 

Everyone is getting quite cosy and familial with Aunts and Great Aunts they never knew existed, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters freshly graduated from college, bratty little second-cousins zipping between the tables. 

There may or may not be alcohol served; could be champagne, could be fine wine, could be a cold beer or thirty.  If you’re part of an after rehearsal celebration you’re a member of the “Inner Circle”, a valued and loved participant in a centuries-old celebration of life.  And ,as such, at some point in the process you’re probably going to be called on to make a toast.

Jeez.  What to say?  If you’re smart (and I know you are because you’re reading this 😉 ), you’ve already done the homework and you’re ready-to-go!  Your two minutes in the spotlight will be both heart-felt and inspiring!  Or they could be the predecessor of the Dreaded-Three-Minute-Pause, that excruciatingly long, uncomfortable, silent, echo-chamber moment of doubt, confusion and question brought on by saying the Wrong Thing at the Right Time – something nobody, not one singular person in the whole entire room, “Gets”.

So let’s lay down some rules first.

1.  Know your audience.  Lots of kids, aunts, uncles, grandparents present?  Keep it clean and clear.  Get the “risque” stuff out of your system at the bachelor/bachelorette party.

2.  Be sure to introduce yourself and your relationship to the wedding party:  “I’m Todd, Jim’s best man and fraternity brother from Alpha Chi O and the University of ___ and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jim for “x” years.  So to mark this auspicious occasion, here’s my toast for the happy couple…”

3.  Hold your glass up in your Right Hand (even if you’re left handed).  Make sure everybody has something in their glass.  It’s hard to enjoy a toast on a gulp of air, plus I think that might negate any good wish just offered up.

4.  Make it short, short, short.  3 lines of fond memories and 1 line of good wishes.  It’s a toast, not a soliloquy.

5.  If you know you’ll be drinking, find your toast quote pre-festivities, write it down in big, clear letters, and stick it in your pocket.  You’re going to need it.

6.  Smile, introduce, quote, toast and sit down.  It’s not a soliloquy.

7. For god’s sake, don’t bawl.  And if you think you’re going to bawl, write Rule 6 on the inside of your arm in permanent marker.  Smile, Introduce, Quote, Toast, Sit Down.

An aside – the worst After Rehearsal Dinner Toast I ever heard?  Well, quite frankly, the opening line was so bad I don’t remember the toast part.  But here’s the opening quote (and yes, they were bawling)….

“I know that Ole Miss has truly prepared us for life in the future just as much as our love of shopping has…..”

She did not have Rule #4 written on the inside of her arm, and it was a shame.  Especially since the videographer caught the whole, weepy thing on tape for future generations to watch and slander, ad nauseum.

Now, a few guidelines…

1.  Best Man – if you’re not the Father, Rule 2.  If you are the Father, you can add 3 extra lines of memories.  Make sure they are good ones.  Don’t talk about how he used to love to pee in the bushes on Main Street until he was caught by the law at age 14 and forced to stop. 

2.  Maid of Honor – close friend for life?  Do not begin, nor make any part of your toast, the following phrase “Of all the men you’ve dated…”.  Bad Joss.  Bad, Bad Joss. And Rule 5 is huge for you.

3.  Date of Maid of Honor with the following qualifications:  “My date is too drunk to toast, I’m here because she needed a date for this event, I don’t know these people and now I’ve got to say something since they’ve fed me well and I’ve been drinking their liquor for over an hour now…..”  Rule 3.

Enough guidelines – on to the toasts!

The Irish have some pretty darned good drinking toasts that can easily be revised to meet the After Rehearsal Dinner Toast requirements.  Short but sweet, they intimate good wishes and future well being, but are also weird enough to evoke some jovial thought and confusion, which is always fun and makes you look kinda clever:

  • “May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past!”  (You can easily amend this to “May the saddest day of your future together, etc…”)
  • “May the luck of the Irish possess you,  May the devil fly off with your worries, May God bless you forever and ever.”
  • “May the most you wish for be the least you receive.”
  • “May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness comes through your door.”(I personally like this one because it just drips with visions of sunshine futures, and it kinda rhymes).
  • And finally, if you truly want to be obtuse, just for the fun of it (especially fun if everyone’s been drinking for a while):  “May a mouse never leave your meal bag with a tear in it’s eye.”

If you’re the Host of the Occasion or the Best Man, you may be called upon to give an actual speech, ending with a toast.  Painful but necessary.  Since it’s the After Rehearsal Celebration, you can at least be less formal than if it were the actual Wedding Day Reception speech.  So have fun with it!  But remember to practice, practice, practice first.  Here’s a good reference to get your speech-writing thoughts rolling:

http://www.hitched.co.uk/speeches/samples/samplespeech.aspx?Type=1&ID=1880&selection=Best

Bridesmaids and Maids of Honor can find lots of inspiration here:  http://www.bridesmaid101.com/maid_of_honor_speech.html

After rehearsal wedding dinner guests and their dates can find toast inspiration here:  http://www.freeweddingtoasts.net/

So here’s to celebrating After Rehearsal Reception Toasts to the Bride and Groom!

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

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