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Tips For How To Crush Your Rehearsal Dinner Toast At A Wedding

Dagney Pruner
by Dagney Pruner Published on March 12, 2015

The rehearsal dinner speech can bring people to tears, laughter or fill a room with the haunting echoes of the awkward silence. Given that it will be your debut to the celebration weekend the night before the big day, the last thing you want to do is make a bad impression with the singles table. So here's how NOT to mess it up.

Weddings are great, they're a time of love, open bars, and making crappy decisions with that groomsmen who looked like Joseph Gordon-Levitt when you were drunk. Turns out that guy actually looked like Mr. Bean in the sober light of day, but that is neither here nor there. If you get tapped to be a bridesmaid or maid of honor in a wedding, it's an honor (thus the name) but it's also a lot of pressure. In addition to throwing the best bachelorette party since season one of Jersey Shore, you also get to make a toast at the rehearsal dinner. Whether you are going the comedic route or the sentimental route, you are going to need some tips of what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do. So here you go. Sparknotes: keep it short, sober and sentimental.

If you're not funny, don't try to be

Humor is an amazing quality in a person. So is being able to tie a cherry stem into a knot and knowing how to get bumped to first class. You either have these qualities or you don't, and they are basically impossible to fake. A person who isn't funny trying to be funny in front of a group of people is THE WORST thing to have to witness. It's worse than that time you had to watch Ashlee Simpson do the Irish jig on SNL when her lip sync track didn't work. There's nothing wrong with not being the "funny girl" in your friend group, so if it's not your thing then stick to saying something sentimental on the big night. When in doubt, play to your strengths, or you'll end up like this:

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Don't get wasted

There is absolutely nothing worse than a drunk girl getting up at a rehearsal dinner and slurring/sobbing through her speech about how much she just LOVES the bride, and how she's known her since she was little, and how they used to practice making out with Dawson Leery posters from Tiger Beat magazine. Nobody cares. Save the waterworks for the actual wedding when you can cry in the pews to yourself like a normal person. Nobody wants to hook up with the drunk bridesmaid who can't keep her sh*t together, so lay off the bottomless Chardonnay until after they've served dessert.

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Speak from the heart

There are few things more pleasurable to watch for a crowd whose hearts are bursting with wedded bliss than somebody speaking about how much they truly admire a friend's happiness. Heartfelt ALWAYS trumps a funny speech. So even though you may think it's hilarious to tell the story of the time you spent holding back the bride's hair junior year of college and that's why you call her "Upchuck Katie," say something from the heart. Nobody is going to talk smack about a toast that was obviously genuine, unless they're really effing mean.

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Don't be a competitive storyteller

Any bridal party is going to have the bride's friends from home, college or her new job. So there are undoubtedly going to be people you don't know who talk about how much they LOVE the bride and how WELL they know her. This is not high school, there is no reason to be jealous of the shiny new toy. So when it comes time for the toast and you are following up the "new girl" that alleges she knows the bride as well as she knows her hairstylist she's been going to since she hit puberty, don't sweat it. There's no need to get up and try and one-up her, the bride knows you love her so before you hijack the mic and start speaking gibberish in Spanish and break out in a Stevie Wonder song, just remember: you're better than that. Speaking of Consuelo...

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Think of things that make the couple unique

Almost everybody who is a decent person could be described as sweet, nice, a good friend, fun, etc. Don't just speak to generalities when it comes to toasting your BFF and her hubby-to-be, think about what makes them unique a couple. What about them makes you aspire to a relationship like theirs? Was there a specific moment when you knew he was the one for her? Why is he the yin to her yang? And don't say it's because she told you once that their crotches line up perfectly when they spoon. No grandparent needs to know that information.

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This is their day, not yours

As much fun as it is jokingly poke fun at a friend and they're ridiculous antics back when you knew them as a single, desperate twenty-something like yourself, the rehearsal dinner is neither the time nor the place. If you catch yourself saying "Who would've thought Rebecca would be the FIRST one of all of us to get married?!" or "Rebecca, remember that time we got really drunk senior year of college and..." None of these are good ideas. This is your friend's special day so be sure to make her feel like nothing short of a princess. Your day will come, don't you worry, and the last thing you want is one of your bridesmaids counting down the days until they get their revenge at your rehearsal dinner.

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Unless you can rhyme like LL Cool J circa 1985, be weary of rhyming

Putting together a poem that rhymes and has the correct pentameter is no easy feat, Shakespeare could barely do it. If you aren't good at rhyming and think that rhyming "love" and "dove" is cute, then just stick to a regular speech. Seeing somebody try and convey their happiness for a couple using only the rules of a sonnet, or even worse a haiku, is like watching a hot shirtless guy jog like a total girl: it's just awkward and unbelievably disappointing. If you are a superb rhymer (I'm convinced this is a gene that is passed down) then have at it. Just be warned: NO RAPPING. Once had to see a mother in law do this intoxicated at her son's rehearsal dinner, it was like watching Jonah Hill jogging shirtless: completely unbearable.

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Keep it SHORT

I can't think of a better time for the phrase "short and sweet" to ring true. We all know you love the bride and groom, why else would you fly all the way to Mexico for their wedding and spend $250 on an absolutely heinous polyester bridesmaid dress you're just going to let some drunk groomsmen tear off with his teeth at the reception? If that's not love, I don't know what is. So there's no reason to spend your precious couple minutes speaking at the rehearsal dinner beating a dead horse. You're happy for the couple, you love them and you wish them many years of happiness. You're not reinventing the wheel, you're just giving people an excuse to cheers and drink champagne. Don't be a hero.

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Do you have a good rehearsal dinner speech? Tweet at us! @wewomenUSA

This article was written by Dagney Pruner. Follow her on Twitter @dagneyp

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