Buddy Best-Man was wasted by the time he gave his speech. He stumbled toward the podium–almost fell on the wedding cake–and toasted the bridesmaids. But not before ripping off his shirt to show us his “buffed bod” and not before rating each of the women on a scale of one to ten (none of them were higher than a six in his opinion). Buddy Best-Man was a horror, a horrible orator–a horrorator. Scary. Scarier still is the fact that he’s not alone. My Buddy story can be matched by yours and countless others. They’re out there, these toast disasters. Good thing they’re easy to identify. That is, unless you’re one of them. Not me, you say? Better be sure. Here are the dirty dozen–a list of the most recognizable horrorators in no particular order of yuck (except for number one), followed by the single best thing you can do to avoid ruining the reception and your reputation.
1) The Drunk
Here’s Buddy in all his glory (read stupidity). Buddy holds the distinction of being a number of horrorators simultaneously (see #10, 12 and 13 as well), but his biggest problem is clearly the hooch. Listen closely speech givers, the worst thing you can do when delivering your toast is doing so while three sheets to the wind. Should be a given, but we have seen this goofball too often to not state the obvious.
2) The Archivist
From wet to dry. Here’s the speaker who has every single moment of life chronicled like a historian with tenure. Forgot how many hours the two of you studied together for that algebra exam in high school? The archivist did not, and for some reason they feel compelled to share the boring fact (and others like it) at the reception.
3) The Preacher
Never one to pass up an opportunity to share “The Word,” this type of self-righteous horrorator will stand up, scriptures in hand, and proceed to use the wedding occasion to sermonize on the meaning of life at best or practically hold an altar call at worst. Some will admit that they cannot resist their holy habit–the cost is too high. What’s a bit of embarrassment if even a single person that evening is saved from eternal damnation? Think again.
4) The Archeologist
The big dig. This “trusted” friend loves to bring the skeletons out of the closet and rattle them in front of everyone. Remember that vow you made with your pals–what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas–the Archeologist among you had his fingers crossed behind his back.
5) The Precious Moments Poet
This saccharine horrorator comes in two cutesy forms. The first type of PMP is the reader. Mrs. Hallmark will fidget at the podium and tell everyone that she’s sooooo nervous and wishes she could share what’s really on her heart but, as luck would have it, she found a greeting card that perfectly encapsulates everything she wants to say. She fumbles to get the card open and then reads the whole card–“How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”
The second type of PMP is worse because they attempt to write the fluff themselves, which is great if you’re actually a poet, but usually pathetic for the 99.99% of us whose default poetry setting is “Roses are red…” I know, I know, PMP’s are adorable, well-intentioned people brimming with love. We feel for these horrorators. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the shepherd’s crook.
6) The Jaded Lover
Oh yeah, here’s someone you want to sit next to at a wedding, let alone listen to if they’ve been invited to give a rant, uhr, toast. This is the speaker that’s so jaded and scorned by love that they make the Grinch look like Romeo. They’ll take the opportunity to tear a strip off of old lovers or encourage the newlyweds with divorce rate statistics, or say something endearing like “hope you guys signed a prenuptial.” A real winner.
7) The Pauser
Here’s why the energy drink Jolt was created. This horrorator plays his 45’s at 33 speed (vinyl records kids). Whether they’re collecting their thoughts, bawling their eyes out, or looking for their notes or glasses, this speaker wraps each thought in a cushion of dead air. Lengthy, scattered speeches and even sudden exits at strange points in the speech are not rare for the Pauser.
8) The Chatterbox
A close relative to the Pauser and the Archivist,this dreaded speaker will talk until the cows come home. Signs that a Chatterbox is in full flight (and losing altitude fast) include–a surge of guests excusing themselves to the restroom (or bar), the glow of blackberries lighting up on peoples laps and, for the less inconspicuous, outright snoring.
9) The Stand-up Guy
Hey have you heard the one about the joker who stands up at a wedding reception and rattles off all the “good ones” that he and the boys toss around at the shop–you know, all those racist, sexist, inappropriate one-liners that leave the guests with their jaws dropped to the floor? You’ll recognize this horrorator as the one who invariably ends his speech with “Well, I guess you had to be there.”
10) The Time-Liner (Flat Liner)
Similar to the Archivist and inevitably a Chatterbox,this horrorator loves to time travel in his/her speech. Beginning at the bride or groom’s birth, this historian will highlight each event of life right up to the present. After ten minutes, if you’re still at “when Henry turned 16 he got his driver’s license,” you know you’re in for a long night. Watch out–often the Time-Liner takes the podium armed with slides.
11) The Mirror
You know this one. It’s all about them. Everything is an occasion to talk about the only thing that matters. Yup. You guessed it. Hopelessly unredeemable, if this is you, you would never admit you had a toast problem. So go on, tell us how wonderful you are, AGAIN.
12) The Misanthrope
Whatever you do, don’t sit the Misanthrope at the same table with the Jaded Lover. They may conspire to plant a bomb or something (like fall in love and procreate–frightening). The Misanthrope hates everyone and everything and the only reason they end up at the podium is because they have to be there–father of the bride, maid of honour, or, heaven forbid, the groom or bride. The glass isn’t even half-full for these bundles of joy–it’s bone dry, and dirty! And it’s your fault! And it’s more evidence that life sucks! Thank-fully, their speeches are usually only as long as a four-lettered word.
So there you are–well, hopefully not. And here’s the best way to find out–ask someone. Take your speech and this list of undesirables and practice your speech in front of an honest friend. If they see you among the dirty dozen, do what you can to get off the list–revise, rewrite, join toastmasters, or take the easiest route to success. Hire a professional speechwriter to help you write a great speech. It’s well worth the investment. And if you’re planning a wedding, why not insist that all speakers get help with their toasts? Do you really want to run the risk of having a horrorator show up at the mic? Remember Buddy Best-Man? Ouch.