Bride's Guide: Q&A for the Big Day

I always cry at weddings.

Whether it's the marriage of a dear friend or family member or someone I don't know well at all, I'm guaranteed to cry during the ceremony when the couple exchanges vows. I'm also guaranteed to cry during any speeches or toasts at the reception. I think the only time I didn't cry during a wedding toast was when I gave one at my sister's wedding, and that's only because my fear of speaking in front of a crowd was more powerful than my emotions about the moment.

In her "Wedding Book," celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss writes that "toasts are one of the highlights of the wedding."

The traditional best man's toast is still the staple speech at most weddings, but these days there are usually also speeches or toasts from parents, the maid of honor and the bride and groom.

So how do you decide who should speak, and when? And should you talk to them about what they'll say beforehand?

Weiss says that you shouldn't have everyone in your wedding party give a toast.

"Too many can bog down a wedding," she writes in "The Wedding Book." "So can toasts that go on and on."

No toast should last more than five minutes, she says.

Toast Timing

Mindy suggests having the bride's parents welcome the guests as the first course is served and then invite up the groom's parents if desired.

The best man, she says, should give his toast "toward the end of the first course or during the second course," followed by the maid of honor if you choose to have her speak.

As for the bride and groom, she recommends that they speak at the cake cutting.

Advice for Giving a Good Speech at a Wedding

Here are Mindy's tips for parent and bride and groom speeches:

Mindy's Advice for Parent Speeches:

1. Welcome guests.

2. Thank people who have traveled.

3. Share a cute story about when the bride or groom was young and/or the first time the parent met their child's future spouse.

4. Share wishes for the couple's future.

5. Raise glass and toast happy couple.

Mindy's Advice for Bride and Groom Speeches:

1. Thank your parents.

2. Thank the guests for joining in your special day.

3. Thank your new spouse.

And anyone giving a speech, she says, should "think it through beforehand so nothing embarrassing is said."

That's especially true for toasts at the rehearsal dinner.

In "The Wedding Book," Weiss writes that "rehearsal dinner toasts tend to be less formal, more colorful and a heck of a lot funnier than wedding toasts…with that in mind, you may want to encourage people to stay within bounds."

Thinking about laughing and crying at my own wedding makes me excited about the Big Day, and sad that soon it will all be over. It also made me wonder what moments Weiss has witnessed as a wedding planner that made her laugh...or cry. Essentially, she said, she's seen it all.

"I have had cakes that have fallen," she said. "I had one wedding [where] the rabbi didn't show, so thank goodness there was another wedding going on next door in the other ballroom. I had to wait for that to be done and I had to ask that rabbi to please help us."

In the end, though, she said "it all worked out."

Continue Reading:

Day 15: Advice on the first dance.CLICK HERE to read.

The 30-Day Wedding Countdown:

Day 30: What's the proper invitation response etiquette?CLICK HERE to find out.

Day 29: What are Mindy's top 10 tips for the final month before your wedding? CLICK HERE for more.

Day 26: Great gift ideas for bridesmaids, groomsmen and other attendants, and how much you should spend.CLICK HERE to read.

Day 25: Seating chart strategy. CLICK HERE to read.

Day 24: Little things that make a big difference on your Big Day, from eating lunch to saying thank you. CLICK HERE.

Day 23: Juggling wedding planning with work, without losing your mind. CLICK HERE.

Day 22: Planning your wedding day timeline.CLICK HERE.

Day 19: Unique guest book ideas. CLICK HERE.

Day 18: Gifts for the bride and groom to buy for one another. CLICK HERE.

Day 17: Tips for the photographer. CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE to visit Mindy's Web site.