The origins of the ‘toast', particularly for weddings, trace back to long-held ancient rituals where a drink was taken to show other guests that the wine had not been poisoned! Luckily, the tradition has evolved over the years and these days the toast is a more elegant and emotional symbol at a wedding or celebration, where heartfelt wishes are expressed, and goodwill and cheer passed on.
No longer confined to weddings, the toast or raising a glass, giving a speech or shouting ‘cheers', is a tradition that has carried across to any event, small or large, whether an intimate dinner party, anniversary, christening, engagement party, baby shower, farewell, birthday party or even an end-of-year function. Whatever the event or occasion, here are a few helpful ideas for delivering memorable, modern and stress-free speeches.
Unless you're planning an ultra-formal get-together, it's not necessary to have a lengthy series of speeches these days. A great way to keep your function informal and relaxed is to get everyone involved. This works particularly well for smaller events, where guests can share words or memories in a more intimate setting, and no one has to be singled out or stand in front of a waiting crowd. It might be nice to let your guests know about this beforehand, so they don't feel put on the spot – perhaps include it in the invitation and set some parameters so they know what's expected on the day.
A new timeline
There's really no reason that a toast or speech can't be done at any time during a function. If you're intending on having several speakers or toasts, you could pepper them throughout the event so there isn't a lengthy period where the ‘fun' has to stop. Other options include kicking off the event with a welcome toast or a thank you and goodbye toast just before the end of the function – or why not scrap the speeches altogether and do a simple call to raise a glass at an appropriate time to mark the occasion.
Instead of a ‘live' speech or toast, you might consider having some audio-visual equipment set up in your venue with words and images rolling during the event that you have pre-prepared. Why not extend this to messages from your guests too as a modern twist on the traditional guestbook.
If LED screens and speakers aren't your vibe, you can give each guest a printed, personalised speech with some thoughtful words to take home as a keepsake.
Wow your guests
And finally, if you're really looking for something different and want to liven things up, why not outsource the toast or speeches to a performer! Or, surprise your guests with a rousing or sentimental song from a talented guest. There are hundreds of event performers who specialise in every type of entertainment you can think of – Irish dancers, musicians with unique talents from bagpipes to harps, quirky impersonators, clowns, mimes, magicians and comedians – all bringing an element of surprise and fun. If you want to get your guests involved, you could always have them participate in the performance – a singalong or group ‘flashmob' dance will have everyone smiling from ear to ear.
So, when it comes to planning your next memorable event, know that there are plenty of ways to redefine the traditional toast or speech for any special occasion – without an awkward ‘um, er, ah' or sweaty palm to be seen.