Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Raise Your Glasses...

In Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant's character is a sweet and lovable bumbling bloke who awkwardly delivers a toast at a wedding.  This has inspired many a best man to think he too can bumble through the toast and that everyone will laugh on cue.  Well...not really. Hugh Grant was a well-rehearsed actor, speaking from a well-honed script, to a room full of actors who were paid to laugh on cue.

We've filmed and edited a fair number of toasts in our time.  Since we see each toast many times while editing it we have a unique viewpoint.  We thought we'd pass along some observations about some toasts that stand above the rest.

The best toasts come from the heart. This takes real courage.  These toasts are full of truth and sometimes give voice to thoughts and feelings that have never been spoken.  We remember a father telling his son for the first time in his life that he was proud of his accomplishments. We've seen one brother tell his brother the groom that he was grateful for all the times the groom fought off the grade school bullies, that he had always looked up to the groom and only wished he could be half the man his brother was.  And we've seen grooms eloquently express their respect, gratitude and love for their brides.  There's nothing quite as endearing as a man declaring his love for his wife in front of a room full of family and friends.

The best toasts are well prepared and well rehearsed.  No one, not even a professional public speaker, can reliably deliver a great speech extemporaneously.  When the toaster is familiar with what he is going to say, he can say it with ease, in a relaxed way, often with humor.   The consequence of poor preparation is rambling--how boring!  

The best toasts are brief.  It is much harder to be succinct, but the reward is often a more powerful message.

The best toasts focus on the bride and groom, not the toaster.

The best toasts wish the couple well.

The best toasts have humor in good taste.

The best toasts come from people who are sober.  Being tipsy can make you think everything you say is funny even though no one else does.

Grooms ask "Do I have to give a toast?"  It's not required, but it is gracious.  
"What do I need to say?"  Three things, in your own words:
1.  Thank you all for coming.  We appreciate the effort it took for you to be with us.  You have contributed to our joy on this day.
2.  My wife and I would like to thank our family and friends for everything they have done for us.  But most of all, we'd like to thank our parents for giving us such perfect role models for how to nurture a long and happy marriage, and love each other every day.
3.  A personal message to your bride:  Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world today.  There is no one else on earth with whom I would rather spend the rest of my life. Would you all please raise your glasses to toast my beautiful bride.

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