Toasting the bride and groom is one of the most sentimental moments of the evening, and if you have the privilege of performing it, you should speak from the heart, but proceed with caution. Here are a few things you should never do.
"Don't share every moment of your relationship with the happy couple," says Nashville-based wedding planner Elaine Roberts. "Guests will quickly get bored and lose attention. Keep things short and concise."
Kansas-based wedding planner Kindra Browne agrees. She says five minutes is plenty of time to share your thoughts. "Guests appreciate the sentiment, but don't want to hear anyone talk longer than that, especially if there are multiple toasts being given by several people."
Wing it—because you can't.
If you have been selected to speak to all of the bride and groom's guests, you should put forth some effort. Not only will it not work out well if you don't think of some words beforehand, but it will be disrespectful if you don't. "Take time to prepare," Browne says. "This is a cherished day for your family and/or friends, so take it seriously."
Reveal private information.
Perhaps there was a recent argument between the now-happy couple, or a rebellious nephew got in trouble again, or a cousin was just laid off from work—all those scandals are to be left out of this important speech. Sharing family secrets is NOT appropriate, says Roberts. "While a secret may not be new to you, your family probably doesn't want it shared with 200 other people," she says. "Don't put the bride and groom in the awkward situation of explaining the secret or answering questions about it," she adds.
Leave out the groom.
As a maid of honor or father of the bride, you may want gush over your relationship with the newlywed woman in your life, which is fine, but make sure her new husband is also mentioned. "A nice, 'Welcome to the family, we are excited you are officially part of the plan,' will suffice," Browne says. But she adds that it would be even better to include a personal sentiment about the groom.
Steal the spotlight.
"Recently engaged? Surprise pregnancy? While you may want to share your great news with everyone, this is the happy couple's special day," says Roberts. She advises to wait until later to reveal the news—and let the bride and groom enjoy their moment.
Joke about past relationships.
Bringing up ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends or ex-flings is never a good idea, even in jest. "There is nothing funny about reminding [the newlyweds] of their past on a day that is focused on their future," says Browne.
Say something insensitive.
It's an error made commonly, but Roberts advises against talking about how you thought the bride was "never going to find someone," she says. "Nothing makes couples more uncomfortable than having their mistakes pointed out. Focus on their happiness together."
Steal the mic.
You may feel in control when you're holding a microphone and speaking to a big audience in front of you, but that privilege does not give you the permission to pass it on to someone who wasn't approved by the bride and groom. "Most couples don't want their wedding reception turned into an open-mic night," Roberts says. "Don't invite guests to share stories or say a little something about the couple. Let the couple choose who should give toasts."