Some things are best left unsaid—8 tips to stop you talking about exes, mothers-in-law and dead relatives...
1. Honesty. Not the best policy
Yeah, yeah, a wedding toast should be genuine, heartfelt, meaningful, yadda, yadda. But get real: life ain’t a greeting card. Relationships have hiccups and infidelities, families have their skeletons and mates fall in love with people we wish they wouldn’t. A toast is no time to mention a kiddy-fiddling uncle, the groom’s dalliance with his intern or to offer your opinion on how the bride elevates being a bitch to an art form. If you’re a decent man, you’d have said your piece and accepted the union long ago.
Best man: “Mate, I really hope you know what you’re doing.”
Father of the bride: “I'm Jill's dad. I just want to say that I met David before Jill did because of my other daughter.” (sits down)
2. The bride. Not a punchline
Lay off the bride, regardless of whether you secretly wish she’d choke on her veil or if she’s so cool all the guys consider her ‘one of the boys’. Making a mockery of a woman on her wedding day in front of her parents, friends and potentially violent relatives is never wise. Sobbing brides and family brawls don’t make for good wedding photos.
Best man: “Good to see Damo has found a woman insecure enough to actually marry him.”
Maid of honour: “After all the guys she went through in college, who knew she’d settle down?”
3. Smut. Keep it to yourself
What gets said by the boys at a poker night is rarely worth saying in another forum—particularly one that’s quite likely to have women, children, elders or religious types in attendance—and a wedding usually brings out all of the above. Dirty jokes or stories aren’t fun for the whole family, particularly if the lewd tale involves one or both of the protagonists.
Maid of honour: “He’s a good catch. I’d sure as hell tap that.”
Best man: “You get a new wife, but at least I get to tag team the bridesmaids.”
4. The joke. It may be on you
If it’s rude, racist, political or personal, then it’s likely to cause offence to someone and leave you fielding a room of gasps, silence or tears. That includes mother-in-law jokes—especially for the groom. Why ruin all future Christmases at once? Better to do it one festive season at a time. Use wit and humour for good, not evil—be insightful, self-deprecating or meaningful. If insults and put-downs are the only ways you know to raise a laugh, grow up and take a long hard look at yourself.
Best man: “And if this marriage doesn’t work out, I’ll be here for the next one.”
Groom: “Sue is a great mother-in-law. She lives abroad and I never have to see her.”
5. The past. Leave it there
Everyone is young and wild once. Shit happens. Who hasn’t found themselves naked and off their head on quaaluudes making out with a rabid goat (or was it a llama?). Regardless, what happens in Vegas/college/the-back-seat-of-a-Corolla stays there. The blacklist encompasses all former wives, girlfriends and lovers of any gender or species. Likewise struggles with drugs, mental health and prostitution or dead relatives.
Best man: "Bagging an ex stripper is every man’s dream. Hats off to you, buddy.”
Maid of honour: “From a strung out junkie to blushing bride. Who knew?”
6. Facts. Get them straight
It’s handy to get the basics right—names, places, dates and events. But just because something’s factual, doesn’t mean it needs to be said (see point 1).
Father of the groom: “So happy for my son and Eva.” Groom: “Eva is my ex."
Maid of honour: “You don’t even look pregnant in that dress… shit, I thought everyone knew?”
7. The Oscars. This isn’t them
The Academy Awards are torturously dull for a reason. Acceptance speeches are usually just an attempt to reel off as many industry names as possible before the band starts playing. It’s about as captivating as reciting a grocery list. Single out those who are really important—start by leaving off service providers who are on the payroll. They’ll get their thank you when the bill is settled. Like an Oscar speech, short and sweet beats rambling and pointless any day.
Best man: “I’d like to thank God, the florist, the waiter, the maître’d, the chauffer, the bloke who held the door open and the bartender who made all of these drinks possible.”
8. You. Not the focus
Unless yours is one of the names on the front of the invitation, the phrase “it’s so not about you” is never truer than when you’re giving a wedding toast. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself and share a personal anecdote relating to the bride or groom, but go steady.
Best man: “Today takes me back to my wedding. It was a beautiful day in June…”
Father of the bride: “Back in my day we got married in a second hand suit and saved ourselves for the wedding night.”
The groom’s toast: how to
The best man’s speech: how to
The father of the bride toast: how to