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December 16, 2016

Friends Don't Let Friends Toast Drunk

Not long ago we attended a lovely, expensive wedding. Everything was wonderful - the ceremony, the bridal party's clothing, the decorations, the food, the music - except for one thing.

When the best man got up to toast the happy couple, it quickly turned into one of those embarrassing scenes that I thought only happened in movies. Extremely drunk and completely uninhibited, he peppered his speech with foul language, off color remarks, and too much personal information. Some people were amused. Many, including the bride's parents, were not.

Inappropriate wedding toasts happen surprisingly often. Some people announce how much they dislike the bride or the groom, or express their opinion that the marriage won't last. Others reveal personal information about business problems, previous lovers, health issues, bad habits, or the fact that the bride is pregnant. Sometimes the problem isn't that the speech is rude or controversial, but just that it goes on too long. The speaker decides to recite the long version of the couple's life stories, droning on for 15, 20, 40 excruciatingly dull minutes. Sometimes a speaker has good intentions but is just so drunk that he can't speak coherently.

What can you do to prevent terrible toasts from spoiling your reception, making your wedding video unwatchable, and potentially destroying a friendship? While there are no guarantees, there are some ideas that can improve your chances of having only positive experiences.

  • Talk to the members of your wedding party ahead of time and ask everyone to keep their toasts tasteful.
  • Ask that speeches be kept short. One minute (or less) is plenty.
  • It helps if the toasts are scheduled at the beginning of the reception when people are being served their very first drinks, so there is less chance anyone will be drunk.
  • Before he starts to speak, quietly remind your frat brother that children and grandparents are present.
  • Designate a tactful, sober person to monitor the toasts. It is often possible to gently intervene and walk a drunk away from the microphone.
  • Make sure someone has the ability to deadmike an offensive speaker.
  • Sometimes people get started and have trouble stopping. If someone talks more than five minutes and seems to be going on forever, they may feel relieved when you gently interrupt them with a smile and thanks.
  • When choosing who will speak, omit anyone who has a grudge against the bride or groom, or anyone who has a history of disrupting social events.
  • Control the number of speakers by making a list ahead of time. Have an emcee use the list to introduce each speaker. After the last speaker, discourage volunteers by removing the microphone and moving on to another activity.

Despite your best efforts, it is still possible someone will say something upsetting. The best thing to do is just let it go and move on. Your wedding is a celebration of your commitment to each other, and the main focus will always be on you, not on one bad moment.

And remember, videos can be edited.

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