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Top 5 Beach Honeymoon Vacations (Part 1)

So now that the summer is officially over and we’ve had the first snow here in Montana (“What’s that!?” you say. “Snow? In September?”), we’re all thinking of one thing…

Where are we going on vacation?

Good thing Jackie from The Budget Minded Travelerhas some ideas. Here are her top 5 beach honeymoons to consider after the planning is over and all you need is a little fun in the sun!

Dreaming of the perfect getaway for your honeymoon? Having any trouble figuring out exactly where to go?

A honeymoon can be a once in a lifetime chance to go on the trip of your dreams, yet for many, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly the right destination. We all have our daydreams of perfect beaches or fairytale mountain hideaways, but when reality comes around, a honeymoon destination decision often depends on what we can actually afford, what time of year we can go, and how much time we have to get to these places.

As a budget-minded traveler and blogger, I want to equip others with the right information they need to travel the world, and I want to save them money in the process. Whether you have a budget for your honeymoon or not, any of these top beach destinations will make for an unforgettable experience.

In this post we’ll start with two hot spots in Central America, moving on to Europe and Asia in next week’s post. Here goes, these are some of my favorite places in the world!

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Honeymoon in Panama Guide

Aka “Paradise” (in my opinion), Bocas del Toro, Panama is an archipelago of islands in the northeastern corner of Panama. Bocas Town, on the main island of Isla Colón, consists mostly of one long main street, populated with boutique hotels, tour companies, restaurants, and shops. Beyond the main island are over 250 more islands surrounded by beautiful, green, crystal clear water housing thousands of fish, coral reef, palm trees, dolphins, white sand, and pure serenity.

Best time of year to go: Interestingly, Bocas del Toro does not have a predictable dry season. October has proven to be a beautiful time to visit. You may see a bit of rain, but not nearly enough to prevent you from enjoying your hot sunny days. Avoid winter/springtime particularly February through May when it will just rain buckets.

How to get there: Fly into Panama City, Panama. Stay for a night or two, visit the canal, and then hop a regional flight to Bocas Town. You can find these flights through AirPanama or Aeroperlas. Take a flight back to Panama City when you are done. Extra tip: Get a window seat on your regional flight, you will get to see the entirety of the Panama Canal as you fly the one hour to Bocas!

Activities not to be missed: Island hopping! Choose a different tour company each day to visit different islands, snorkel at different beaches, and eat lunch at different gazebo restaurants over the water. Don’t miss Hospital Point for the best snorkeling. Be sure to go dolphin watching, and try to get out to Zapatilla Cay. Try sport fishing for a day, there are tunas to be caught and cooked up by your hotel chef! For a fun adventure if you have enough time, take a boat tour out to Bird Island to see the only known nesting place in the Caribbean of the Red-Billed Tropic Bird, plus there is a fun cave they might let you swim through! Extra tip: Watch out for jellyfish; if you get stung by one just pee on it. Seriously.

How much time to allow: This is the perfect destination if you only have a week for your honeymoon, as you can do and see just about all there is to do in Bocas in about 5 days (but you could always spend more!), don’t forget to include a couple days for travel, with some time in Panama City if you want to see the canal.

Costa Rica

Honeymoon in Costa Rica

This country holds a big piece of my heart. It is one of the most beautiful, ecologically diverse, laid-back, happy countries you will ever experience. The people are wonderful, the food is delicious, the dancing contagious, and the landscape refreshingly gorgeous.

Best time of year to go: Mid December through mid April is the dry season. January through March is almost guaranteed to be 100% without rain on the Pacific. It’s hot and wonderful.

How to get there: Fly into San José. Costa Rica also has an international airport in Liberia, but it’s much more expensive.

Honeymoon in Costa Rica

Activities not to be missed: Where do I start? Here is my perfect itinerary in a nutshell: Start by heading east to Puerto Viejo for some Caribbean culture and jungle. On your way back go white water rafting on the Rio Pacuare and transfer to La Fortuna where you can visit Volcán Arenal (Costa Rica’s most active volcano). Do a canopy tour (zipline), ride horses, visit Badlí Hotsprings (at the base of the volcano), and possibly take a jeep-boat-jeep transfer to Monteverde where you can explore a cloud forest, some coffee plantations, and more extreme ziplines. From either of those places head to the Pacific coast to find a beach. One great beach is Manuel Antonio (National Park), another (and my favorite) is Montezuma, although it’s harder to get there. That’s a coast-to-coast adventure itinerary, although you could cut out any part and customize it to your liking.

How much time to allow: This itinerary can be done in 10 days, but two weeks would be a much better pace.

Stay tuned for next week’s post in which I’ll highlight three more destinations in Europe and Southeast Asia!

To find out more information about how to get a passport, how to find flights, how to pack, what you need to know about travel insurance, even how you can use your smartphone while you’re abroad, and much more, check out Jackie’s blog at The Budget Minded Traveler.

About the Blogger

Jackie Laulainien

Bozeman local Jackie Laulainen is a travel blogger at www.TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com. After visiting, traveling through, and living in over 35 countries in the last 10 years, she has a thing or two to say about travel tips and advice, which is a subject she does not take lightly! Her mission is to equip and inspire other Americans to travel the world and broaden their horizons through experiencing cultures outside of their own. She has just published her first book “The Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook: A preparation guide to international travel,” a detailed resource which answers many of the questions that come with being a new traveler. The book is now available for purchase on her blog. Besides traveling the world as often as she can, Jackie does freelance web design for small businesses and teaches local adult Spanish classes in Bozeman where she lives with her husband Nate and 100-lb rescue mutt Rami. If there is anything Jackie can help you with in your planning process, please visit her on her blog, or say hi to her on Facebook or Twitter.

 Have more questions about international travel? Jackie would love to hear from you. You can email her at jackie@thebudgetmindedtraveler.com.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Chic, Southern Wedding in the Heart of Montana

It’s been a little quiet on the e-western front here at Leslie Lukas Weddings, but we’re ramping up our efforts this fall to bring you some gorgeous ideas for seasonal entertaining, highlights from this past summer, and as always, tips for planning your perfect, personal wedding in any season.

This July, my team and I had the pleasure to work with the unforgettable Jayne and Patrick. Young, hip, and a ton of fun to plan with, these two Louisiana kids had a gorgeous wedding, despite the seemingly fall temperatures that blew through Big Sky Resort (which fortunately made for some fabulous photos!)

Congrats, Jayne and Patrick!

Wedding Big Sky Resort

 

Big Sky Montana Wedding Planner

Big Sky Resort WeddingView More: http://laurenbrownphoto.pass.us/jayne-and-patrick View More: http://laurenbrownphoto.pass.us/jayne-and-patrick View More: http://laurenbrownphoto.pass.us/jayne-and-patrick View More: http://laurenbrownphoto.pass.us/jayne-and-patrick View More: http://laurenbrownphoto.pass.us/jayne-and-patrick View More: http://laurenbrownphoto.pass.us/jayne-and-patrick

(all photography GORGEOUSLY photographed by the talented Lauren Brown)

How was YOUR summer of weddings? 

4 Things to Look for When Choosing a Venue

ImageAugust has been a busy month here at LLWE headquarters. First, we were in Belgrade at one of our favorite “blank space” locations Roys’ Barn, then we lived it up at a three-day Southern wedding up in Big Sky, then back to Belgrade for a two-day rehearsal dinner-slash-wedding at the Springhill Pavilion and a private home on the Gallatin River. And the month is only half over. Phew!

As we’ve been winding up our season (it goes so fast!) we’ve been thinking about the ways that we can help our brides for next year make some smart choices as they rev up the early stages of planning.

Enter our new “Things to Look For” series, in which we take each aspect of your wedding day and give you practical advice and things to think about as you are choosing each vendor.

First up: the venue. Arguably the most important decision you’ll make, the venue is usually the first or second decision that you make when you are planning a wedding. In choosing your venue, the mood and theme of your wedding will be set. Is it a wedding on the beach or in a church? Huge party at a loft in a city or intimate gathering up in a mountain lodge. Once you decide what feel you want to have, here’s a few more things to ask yourself as you’re touring each space.

How many people maximum can it seat for dinner? How many for a cocktail party?

So many of my brides always say that they don’t know how many people they want to invite, let alone how many will show up. Before picking the venue, I’d say that you need at least a 30 person ballpark (100 to 130 people, for example) before you start researching your venues. Better to initially rule some spaces out of they’re too large or too small than trying to make your wedding invitation list to your venue requirements.

Also, it’s good to know the different party limits. Let’s say you fall in love with a venue, but it only can seat 80 for dinner and you’re looking at 100 minimum. Be open to the idea of having a really great cocktail party, with all-night appetizers and open bar instead of a sit down dinner. Either way, when you’re deciding on a venue, consider all the seating/standing options before making your final choice.

Is there a support staff that assists with moving furniture, placing decor, and cleaning up at the end of the night?

This is a big one that so many brides forget when they are looking at venues. They fall in love with that great blank loft space, but then realize too late that they have to hire out a cleanup crew (for $500 – $1,000!) for the end of the night to break everything down (or worse, do it themselves!). Hotels and banquet hall usually have this one taken care of, but if you’re thinking about a tented wedding or anything in a warehouse space, make sure that this is something you ask your venue host while doing your walkthrough.

Will we need to rent furniture?

Sometimes you’ll visit a venue and you fall in love with it so much and you can’t believe it’s only $3,000 for the whole weekend! Well, if the number is too low and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Unless you’re in a hotel, most venues won’t provide tables, chairs, linens, or any catering items like plates, silverware, and glassware. This not only means a lot more work for you to coordinate more vendors, but it also means spending more money. Make sure you’ve got the skinny on what exactly your venue includes before you convince yourself of a steal.

Is there an event planner on-site?

While I always advocate for a planner, you especially need someone to troubleshoot if your venue doesn’t come with an in-house planner that will stay to the end (and most in-house planners don’t even stay for the duration of all the events at their space; make sure you ask that question as well). If you’re in a lovely loft space but you find out that there’s no professional help around during your Saturday evening reception, it’s time to rethink the price tag and/or if you should be hiring someone to help you on the day of the wedding (or even on the rest of the venue walkthroughs!)

What about my ceremony space?

Keep in mind that, while most venues can have space for your ceremony as well as your reception, if you’re looking to get married in a different location, you’ll have to take into consideration the added cost of a ceremony space, as well as the cost to transport people in between the two locations (this is more relevant if you live in a big city or very rural place where it’s easy to get lost).

What are some things you forgot to ask during your walkthrough that would have helped you out come wedding day? Let me know in the comments or email me at info@leslielukas.com!

Best Places to Get Your Hair (and Makeup) Done in Bozeman

Happy Tuesday, brides and grooms! When I’m not fielding inquiry phone calls or putting the last touches on my final few weddings of the season, I’m acting as a resource for my brides who need help finding great dressmakers, tuxedo rentals, tailors and of course…hair and makeup artists!

Here are just a few of my favorites in the Bozeman area. Want even more suggestions? Contact me and ask!

Hair

TheoryTheory Hair Salon.   A personal favorite and where many of my brides go for their big day, Theory is a local girl’s best kept secret. Modern and lively, Theory stylists can create a classic look and an edgy look for whatever your wedding day taste is.

 

 

SageSage Spa. Located in the heart of downtown, Sage is perfect for brides who need a classic look but want a little pampering as well. Their list of bridal packages include bridal manicures, pedicures, spa services, and even a special hair service for flower girls!

Makeup

IndulgenceIndulgence. Indulgence specializes in makeup application and will come to you if you’re doing makeup in your bridal suite. They work with Montana brides who prefer a natural makeup application, but can also glam you up upon request.

TheLoftThe Loft. The Loft prides itself on its spa experience. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for all your needs on your day, not only does The Loft provide a gorgeous makeup application, but can turn their space into a private party for you and your bridesmaids should that be what you need.

Etcetera…

SH_floating_girl_webNeed to get waxed? Spruce and Honey has you covered. Keely is pretty dang wonderful, and even more wonderful because she specializes in bikini and Brazilian waxing. After leaving a dedicated following in Portland, Keely ended up in Bozeman and opened up shop right next to Theory. So if you’re getting your hair done at Theory, pop on over and say hi to her.

SolaceSpaAnd if a relaxing, spa experience complete with a facial and a massage is what you’re craving the weeks before your wedding, Big Sky Solace Spa is second to none. Plus, a day in Big Sky, relaxing or hiking is the perfect way to keep calm during the days leading up to “I Do”.

What are your favorite spas and salons in Bozeman? Comment below and let me know!

Wedding of the Week: Congratulations Kristie and Craig!

Kristie and Craig were my first clients getting married this summer and their eclectic and vintage design tendencies combined with their HILARIOUS personalities made this one of the best times I’ve had NOT being a guest. Take a look at the photos (all by the unmatched talent of  Lauren Brown Photography).

Weddings I Love

Kristie and Craig!

Kristie and Craig!

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Details I Loved About This Wedding

1. The Vintage Everything. Kristie has a great sense of design and she has a flair for the vintage. All the silverware was eclectic and thrifted, as was their Airstream trailer that they brought all the way from northern Montana. And who doesn’t love pink plastic flamingos!

2. Napkin decor. When you’re doing a buffet, you have to make the place setting interesting without a plate. Kristie bought a bunch of feathers and we styled them to lay in the napkin. It looked GORGEOUS resting on their sierra colored napkins.

3. Tiny desserts. Cake is great, but I love a dessert station that’s made for grazing. It’s inviting and people don’t feel like they need to go sit down to eat dessert. Perfect for couples who love to dance and guests who don’t want to waste time sitting to eat cake.

4. The Montana skyline. Okay, so this one wasn’t exactly planned but a huge rainstorm right after everyone went in for dinner meant a gorgeous rainbow at sunset.

Congrats Kristie and Craig!

Ask Leslie: Gift Bags

Welcome Gift Bag

I wouldn’t mind getting this welcome basket…

This is a regular series where we answer readers’ questions about their wedding day, the wedding process, and general etiquette. Have a question? Drop me an email!

Dear Leslie,

I’m doing a mostly destination wedding and I want to put gift bags together, but it seems so expensive and time consuming to do something nice. What is your advice?

Oh, reader, I feel you. I love gift bags because it shows your out-of-town guests how thankful you are that they’ve decided to spend your special weekend with you, despite distance and cost. And plus, who doesn’t love a little treat showing up on their bed when they check in?

I usually like to include the following things in gift bags:

•Custom printed Welcome Itinerary, with all weekend information needed

•Map of surrounding area, good restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

•Water (two bottles)

•Snacks (Costco Trail Mix, treats like cookies or brownies, etc.)

•Chapstick or sunscreen, depending on the time of year

•Tiny bottles of wine or champagne

•Tiny jams/honey and crackers

•Beef jerky (We’re in Montana, so this is a must!)

When you’re buying in bulk at a big box store, it’s pretty easy to get all of these things relatively inexpensively. The challenge is when you start customizing. Maybe you want to introduce your guests to your hometown with a cookie for your favorite bakery. This will be more expensive than Famous Amos cookies from Walmart.

I’d say pick ONE thing you really want to highlight (maybe it’s a package of jerky or a jar of jam from your favorite local preserve maker) and build your bag around that. Maybe include in your Welcome Itinerary a little note about your ONE THING, like where it’s from and why it’s special. Then, fill in with tiny treats that you can get in bulk.

To produce the bags, make a little assembly line in your living room and start with the heaviest item first (water, usually). After you’ve filled all the bags with water, go onto the next heaviest thing. Finish with your welcome note on top and a custom gift bag tag enclosure, and voila! You’re done!

Anticipated cost: Between $10 – $20 per bag, depending on your ingredients and the amount of bags.

What tips do you have for personalizing your gift bags? Leave me a comment below!

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5 Things All Brides Overlook

Wedding's Over! Now What?

Most of the brides we work with at Leslie Lukas HQ are psyched about planning their wedding. They’re Type A, organized brides who know that they want to have a fun, seamless wedding day. However, no matter how organized you are, there are always a few details that get forgotten. These are the most common based on the thousands of weddings I’ve both planned and attended.

1. Who’s setting up…and taking down?

Again, less of a problem with hotel weddings, but set up and break down of your wedding is the single biggest headache if you don’t prepare in advance. One way to manage this is to make a big TO DO list for the day of your wedding (set up 18 tables and 150 chairs, set up escort card arrangement, set up lawn games, set up ceremony site, etc.) and then hand draw a little map of your event space and indicate where everything goes (or, if you’re SUPER Type A, like we are, you can design your own wedding map in Floorplanner).

2. Who’s cutting your cake?

This generally isn’t an issue if you’re doing a hotel wedding (or if you’re having cupcakes), but, like many of our Rocky Mountain Brides, if you’re having a tented wedding where you’re bringing in all of the vendors, be sure that your caterer (or your bridesmaids) knows that they have to stick around for cake cutting. A lot of caterers will pack up after dinner is over (especially if you got your dessert from a cake baker in town).

3. Who needs to get paid?

Usually, there are a few vendors that haven’t gotten their final payments until the day of the wedding. Generally, the DJ or band will wait until the day of for their final payment, in case you ask them to stay and play an extra hour. Same thing with hair and makeup artists (if they are doing your hair and makeup in your room) and tipping for waitstaff/caterers (our expert guide to tipping covers all of this). Unfortunately, due to wedding week being so hectic and crazy, it’s hard to remember this tiny detail, especially when your Aunt Alice from Albuquerque needs a ride from the airport and your calligrapher is late with your seating place cards. Even if you think you’ve paid EVERYONE, write out a few blank checks (four or five), hand them to your maid of honor or your mother, and let them deal with any final payments on your day. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy.

4. When do all the toasts happen?

Most couples assume that all the toasts go back to back at the end of dinner. Which can work, but if you have more than two people speaking, it gets a little overwhelming for guests (particularly if your toasters like to ramble and/or have spent a little too much time at the bar). Even if the toasts are killer, you want to space them out so that your event still flows seamlessly. My suggestion?

•Fathers (or whoever is paying for the wedding) give a welcome toast before everyone begins going through the buffet line. If it’s a served dinner, this can happen while salads are being finished if they are pre-plated or served out.

•Best Man/Maid of Honor toasts are as everyone is finishing the main course.

•The Happy Couple gives their Thank You toast right before they cut the cake. After they do the cake cutting, the band/DJ should jump in with an upbeat song to get everyone dancing (and so that the caterer has time to cut all the cake before people rush the cake table)

•Any other toasts (impromptu) should be given during natural breaks in the wedding. So, if the band is taking a break and your brother wants to give a toast, that’s a good time for him to do it. If there are more than two courses, break up toasts so that there’s one toast at the tail end of each course, so that people who are waiting for the others to finish aren’t bored while waiting for the serve out.

5. What needs to happen at the end of the night?

We already discussed breakdown, but most couples forget that there are a lot of things that happen post-wedding. Where do the flowers go? Can guests take them or did the florist only rent you the vessels and needs them back. What happens with the leftover cake? If your caterer isn’t staying until the end, someone needs to wrap all the leftovers and take them with you. Did you bring candles or decor pieces? If so, who is boxing all that stuff up and getting it out of the venue space. Who is taking the gifts (your parents, maid of honor, etc.)? Who saves the important things, like your place cards, escort card, menu cards, bridal bouquet, and anything else you might want to keep that could easily get lost in the shuffle on wedding day?

Want even more details that brides forget? Email me with your questions!

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How to Make Your Bridesmaids Love You

bridesmaid-cowboy-boots

So here’s a fact: Google “bridesmaids infographic” you will get at least 20 images about the high cost of being a bridesmaid.

Which is true, and if you’ve ever been a bridesmaid you’ve definitely felt the sting of the lightness of your Coach clutch on Sunday morning post-your BFFs wedding. And it’s not only about money; being a bridesmaid can be a bit of an ordeal. From bachelorette parties, to rehearsal dinners, to brunches post-wedding, to PAGES long detailed itinerary wedding emails, it’s no wonder that Kathryn Heigl in “27 Dresses” was so obnoxiously Type-A and paranoid.

So, if you’re hoping that everyone gets along on wedding day and your bridesmaids don’t bring out the dress they wore to your wedding and say “Let me tell you about THIS broad’s wedding…” here’s a few bits and bobs of advice.

Let them help you.

Give your bridesmaids ownership of tasks during your wedding. Have them create a day-of timeline (best for those bridesmaids who have already planned their own wedding) or stamp all 150 of your favor bags. If you allow them to actively participate in the process, then they’ll want your day to go really well instead of just showing up when and where you tell them to.

Or don’t.

The bridesmaid that just launched her new company / had a baby / is taking care of her elderly mother? Doesn’t need a detailed checklist of all the things you need her to do. You love her and want her to stand up with you while you say yes to the man of your dreams? Fine. You want her to hand-sew beading onto your bodice? Be ready for a jab to the kidney.

Invite them to be a bridesmaid individually, but give them a clue about what it entails.

At first, getting asked to be a bridesmaid is, like, SO EFFING EXCITING! They want to say yes right away! They want to be there for all the big moments! They want to stand next to you while you do your getting married thing! But then, five months later, when they realize that the bachelorette party is in Vegas and the wedding is on a farm in Omaha and they live in Maine, and, oh by the way, the dress is $300 (not including matching shoes), well, there’s gunna be a problem.

This is what we call managing expectations. And if, after all that, they decide that they just can’t be in the wedding? Try not to be mad at them. You’re actually probably better off with someone who says no because they just can’t handle the responsibility than someone who flakes out all the time.

Pick out their dress for them.

Hell hath no fury like a bridesmaid whose bride sends them a swatch of fabric and says “DIY! Make your own dresses! Whatever you want as long as it’s floor-length, strapless, no slits, bustled in the back…” Your bridesmaids will be there for you, but the minute you expect them to go get their own dresses made without at least a hint of what you want, is the minute that they go to the fabric store, buy three yards, and drape it over their bodies toga-party-in-college style.

Expect no gift.

Your gift is them showing up at the rehearsal, helping you out during your wedding day, and holding space in their closet for whatever dress they purchased that they’ll never, ever wear again. Want more gifts? Have fewer bridesmaids. And if you really think one of your friends is going to be upset at not being invited, ask her to do a reading, do a toast, or help with day-of coordination.

Buy them a gift, but not a gift that you want for yourself.

A gift certificate for a massage at the hotel they’re staying at, personalized stationary, or the offer to babysit their kids one night are all great gifts. Earrings and a necklace that you picked out that matches everyone else’s in the wedding party and that they’re supposed to wear the day of the wedding is a bit…um…well, it’s like when your husband buys you a drill for your anniversary.

Nix the bouquet toss.

In no world does every single woman at your wedding want to be pointed out as a single woman. Do all your bridesmaids a favor (and the rest of the single chicks) by granting them the courtesy of reveling in their singledom in private.

What’s your advice about being in the wedding of a fantastic bride? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Leslie Lukas on Style Me Pretty (Happy Anniversary, Alexa + Dave!)

In case you aren’t a follower on Facebook (if you aren’t, why not? Get the latest news from me on my Facebook page!), then you may not have heard the exciting news.

Leslie Lukas Weddings and Events was featured on Style Me Pretty (the resource for the modern bride) in January.

(I was so excited, I forgot to blog about it.)

The featured wedding was one of my favorite clients (okay, I love them all…really!), Alexa and David. The wedding was full of romantic personal touches (cocktail stirrers with hand-tied flies on the top to represent their love of fishing, Irish Belles for their Irish heritage) and was gorgeous, both in style and design, AND in the love that was shown and shared that day.

So in honor of their one-year anniversary on Sunday, I’ve assembled some of my favorite photos from the wedding (there were honestly too many to choose from). To read the full article about our design profile and why it worked so well for Alexa and David, head over to Style Me Pretty.

(And happy anniversary, Alexa and Dave. Here’s to many, many, many more!)

Leslie Lukas Style Me Pretty

Montana Wedding and Event Planner Style Me Pretty Montana Wedding Montana Wedding and Event Style Me Pretty

Do you love Style Me Pretty as much as we do? What do you think of Alexa and David’s wedding aesthetic?

All gorgeous photography by Lauren Browne Photography.

How to Give a Killer Toast

ThouShaltNot

We’ve all been there — cringing as some not entirely sober best man rambles on and on about how his buddy, the groom, had SO MANY terrible girlfriends before he met the bride. Or the sister of the bride cries her way through a speech filled entirely with inside jokes that no one understands. Or the father of either shows a slideshow of every major milestone that seemingly lasts well until after the cake should have been cut.

Weddings are emotion-filled days and sometimes, it’s hard to capture all of the things that you want to say in one, memorable, heart-filled speech. But if you’re looking to avoid some common wedding toast no-nos, here’s a good place to start. Your audience and everyone waiting patiently for cake will thank you.

Remember your audience

If you’re in a room full of your high school buddies, then by all means, tell any kind of embarrassing story you’d like. However, chances are that some parents and grandparents will be in attendance, and if you give a speech consisting entirely of stories that they can’t relate to, then you are shooting yourself in the speech-making foot. Be relevant.

Keep it short

Your friends love you, they do, but unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, stick to a two to three minute toast. This ensures that you limit yourself to only the most relevant and heartfelt stories. And, when you give yourself a time limit, you don’t get stuck on a tangent about how that one time, in college…

Practice

For the love of pete, DO NOT get up on wedding day without having done a trial run in front of your significant other, hamster, or at least the bathroom mirror. Every good wedding toast that I’ve ever heard has been rehearsed at least once (if not four or five times) to find the best place for dramatic pauses, to make sure all the words flow seamlessly, or to see if it’s just a smidge too long.

Be authentic

This means not looking up four quotes on “true love” from a Shakespearean novel, nor does it mean composing a stand up routine that could compete with Chris Rock. A mix between heartfelt and funny usually yields the best results, but if witty jokes aren’t your thing, don’t feel like you have to be a comedian. Most of the time, the bride and groom simply want to know that they are loved and supported by their friends and family, so if your toast accomplishes that, then you’ve got it all down (as long as you practice, keep it short, and remember your audience, too 🙂

Okay, toastmasters, I know you’re out there. How many of you have given wedding toasts (good or bad!)? What are your recommendations for giving a good one?