The wedding toast is like a really cool set of fireworks.
Handled properly, it can liven up a great party and leave everyone in attendance with that warm, fuzzy feeling. Mishandled, it can blow up and leave the whole shebang in a state of discomfort and disarray.
Take, for example, the toast my husband's college fraternity brother gave at our rehearsal dinner.
A little context: Rob and the other frat boys had arrived in West Palm Beach around noon and, of course, spent the afternoon reacquainting themselves with each other and with the large quantities of beer they no doubt consumed in college.
So by the time the rehearsal dinner got under way, Rob and company were — and I'm being generous here — way beyond just a light buzz.
So Rob gets up to toast the happy couple and proceeds to regale the large dinner crowd (maybe 50 relatives and friends) with tales of Mike's romantic and not-so-romantic conquests during their college days.
My aunts were appalled. The restaurant grew awkwardly silent, and yet Rob just kept going. I didn't really mind it because, hey, sex stuff happens in college, right?
But for the older relatives and friends, it was just too much. They were so fed up that when the best man gave his toast at the wedding the next night, they practically booed him offstage just for going on a bit too long.
So what's the deal? Why do so many people turn the toast into a giant (and typically drunken) blunder?
Shannon, a good toast is important because true love is hard to find.
Sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a damn magic show ready to double-team your girlfriend. (I know, that's the toast from Old School, but I couldn't resist.)
Taking a step back, I've never tried to be one of those overly macho guys who pretends to be anesthetized to his emotions. I cry at weddings and funerals and even lost it trying to give a speech at my pop's retirement party.
So, I personally think the best man speech is a benchmark in one of life's most memorable moments. It is not a time to bring up questionable acts and past conquests under the veil of humor. And it's a double-edged sword for most guys. On one hand, they are surely losing a piece of their best friend; on the other, they have to be happy he found somebody he loves.
I vividly recall being asked to give a best man speech when my 20-year old nephew, who I thought was too young, was about to wed some girl I was sure didn't deserve him.
At the reception, I bit my tongue and feigned a toast.
Six months later he got an annulment from the church and an "I told ya so" from Uncle Dave. But to set the record straight, what I wanted to say that day was this: "This kid has a bigger heart than any man I've ever met and I could only hope to be as generous as he is. He deserves much better."