YOUR TOAST TO YOUR DAUGHTER
“Valerie reminded me of a time when she and Monique were in our front garden in Maine. Monique would have been maybe two or three at the time. (Sets clear timeframe and context). Valerie had just laid some snail bait around her newly planted flowers and she thought she’d better warn Monique not to touch the little green pellets. She explained as best she could without going over the top that the green pellets were not for people to eat. (Change your tone to capture the fact that this was spoken to a little child) “They’re not for you to eat. They’re poison to kill the snails who’ll come along and eat all Mommy’s/Mummy’s flowers”.
Valerie said that she recalls walking towards the front of the house while Monique stood near the floor bed obviously deep in thought. Just before Valerie reached the front steps, Monique called out: “Mummy/Mommy”. “Yes, darling” replied Valerie never anticipating what she was going to hear from such a young child: (Creates a sense of anticipation for the punchline).
“Mummy/Mommy, do you think it might be good to plant more flowers? Then the snails don’t have to be deaded and we can still have lots of flowers in the garden?”
Needless to say, Valerie was flabbergasted. She had to admit that that was a particularly unusual but intelligent suggestion. When she told me that story again, I recalled it too because of course we talked about that evening – as we used to ”what did the kids get up to today?” I remember that we were both equally struck by the fact that we seemed to be learning from the child rather than the other way around. As I recall, we took Monique’s advice because as has been the case so many times since, it was truly inspirational.
I’ve chosen to tell you that anecdote because for me and for her mother it captures so much of the person Monique is, and always has been. As you know, she’s a Civil Engineer by profession so we can assume that she thinks rationally and within accepted frameworks. But Monique is and has always been someone who can think laterally. I think the jargon is – outside the envelope. More than that, so much of her thinking is inspired by her profound generosity of spirit and her genuine concern for the welfare of other living things. Most of you know that Monique has been a vegetarian for most of her life. Today’s wedding breakfast however caters for people – her family and friends who are not vegetarian. And that’s the greatest gift that Michael has won in gaining Monique as his wife. She is one of the most tolerant and non-judgmental people I’ve ever known. If you need more evidence of that let me tell you that she never upbraids me for being a staunch and loyal Republican, although as we all know Monique supports the other team.
I can’t take full credit for the wonderful person she has become today. Although she definitely has my wicked sense of humor, she has her mother’s brains and beauty. (particularly nice to say, if you’re divorced).
MENTION OF SPECIAL GUESTS LINKED BACK TO BRIDE
There are three very special people here today without whom Monique would not be the person she is. I am of course referring to Valerie’s mother Dot, and to my mother Lily. Monique’s two grandmothers with whom she has spent many, many weekends. The other very special influence on Monique is Valerie’s maternal grandmother, and Monique’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth Durrell who is probably better known to you all in her capacity as one of our most famous Architects.
THIS NEXT PART OF YOUR TOAST IS OPTIONAL.
So before I propose the Toast to Monique and Michael may I ask you to be upstanding to toast the health of Elizabeth Durrell, Dot Copeland and Lily Brady without whom none of this would have been possible.
5. Make a positive welcoming reference to the Groom and his family
Valerie and I are thrilled to welcome Michael into our family. That’s not just because he is a great Physiotherapist and we’re getting old and clunky. He is a splendid person and a great credit to his parents, Marie and Paul.
Obviously, I can say to Michael that longevity is in our genes, so we can readily wish him a long, long life of married happiness. And on behalf of everyone here, I do sincerely wish Monique and Michael a happy marriage. Based on my own marriage to Valerie, I also wish them a relationship together that has just enough conflict in it so that the resolution of that conflict forms the basis of a relationship made stronger and stronger by finding ways to respect each others differences, as well as their similarities.
6. Propose the Toast
On behalf of her mother Valerie, her brother Tom, her sisters Michelle and Rose, I would ask you now to be upstanding to drink to the health and happiness of Monique and Michael.
To Monique and Michael.
In that short speech, including the introductory welcome, there are approximately 820 words.
If you speak at an average of 155 words per minute, even that short speech will take you just over five minutes. You may be tempted to add another anecdote, but if you keep your Toast to around five minutes you’ll earn your guests’ gratitude. Ask the following questions:
1. Does it tell us something very different from the first anecdote? And
2. Is it something most guests do NOT know already?
If the answer to both questions is a resounding YES, and if your wife agrees that it’s essential, include the second anecdote.
Most people who are guests at your daughter’s wedding know her well. There will be partners of guests who’ve never met her, but they account for perhaps ten to twenty percent of the guests.
Your job is to tell a story that illuminates her best qualities as a human being.
Even if you’re a confident and scintillating speaker with a huge reservoir of compelling and interesting stories about your daughter, please remember:
* Your guests came to enjoy themselves. They don’t want more than twenty minutes of speeches. The Best Man and the Groom also have to speak. These days, even the father of the Groom and the Bride sometimes say a few words.
* Let me suggest that with Wedding speeches, half as long is always twice as good.