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How To Propose A Toast

While wedding toasts are very common, it can be difficult to give a great toast if you've never done it before. Pamela Fiori, editor-in-chief of Town & Country magazine, shared some tips on The Saturday Early Show.

Fiori wrote the foreword of "Toasts For Every Occasion," a book of quotes for toasts compiled by Town & Country.

So why is it called a "toast"? The term comes from a Roman custom of adding a piece of burnt bread (an overdone piece of toast) to their cheap wine to absorb unpleasant contaminants before drinking an offering to the emperor, as was required by law and custom. Eventually, the piece of toast gave its name to the practice of making the offering.

Fiori says the biggest mistake most people make: "They speak too long and they also often talk about themselves instead of talking about the person they are giving the toast to. A big mistake.

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"First of all," she advises, "remember that you are talking about somebody else. And if you know you are giving a toast, then you ought to prepare for it. Think about what you are going to say. Think about what you know about this person and speak … so that everybody hears you.

"Make eye contact, not just with the person you are giving the toast to, but everybody, so you really establish a feeling of warmth."

The one making the toast also should make it personal, but also to make sure "that you are saying something about that person that is kind, gracious. This is not a roast… What you don't want to do is … bring up ex-wives, old boyfriends, inside jokes that nobody understands, or try to be funny."

Also remember to keep it short. As Fiori says, "This is not a speech, not a eulogy; just something under two minutes, and maybe a minute, and just keep it as brief as possible."

Finally, don't bang on the glass with a spoon to get everyone's attention.

"If you do," warns Fiori, "you might be breaking someone's Baccarat."

Here is Fiori's "toasty" advice in list form:

  • Keep it short and simple. There is nothing worse than someone rambling for 20 minutes about nothing.
  • Prepare. So many people go to a function and are expected to talk and do not prepare anything. They just stand and start talking about whatever comes to mind. It is like a good comedian: He will prepare his show and adlib whatever he has worked on. Like a comedian, you want to think about what you say
  • Stand straight and strong. Make eye contact with those who are near you and with the honoree so you show that are really speaking to them and what you are saying is addressed to them.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Make sure that you didn't drink too much previously. You need to be able to speak loud enough for people to hear and clearly so everyone understand.
  • Make it personal. It has to be about them and not about you. Keep the attention of the person to whom you are giving the toast. Be kind, and don't try to be funny if you are not.
  • Raise your glass. Look around the room. Ask everyone to raise their glass and then people can clink glasses . But never a glass when it contains water or if it's empty.
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