I’ve painted at more weddings than I can count, but I tried, and it is over 300. I have seen fine china; I’ve seen paper plates. I’ve seen cowboy boots, four inch heels, sneakers, and no shoes at all. I’ve seen super slow and maybe a little awkward first dances, and full-out choreographic masterpieces. I’ve heard twenty-piece bands, amateur DJs, and even dueling pianos. I’ve seen oyster shucking stations, lucky dog carts, portable snowball stands, and donut sculptures. Firework displays, wardrobe changes, photo booths and props of every kind, color, and shape. Favors you can eat, plant, wear, or stick on your fridge. I’m not saying that I have seen it all, but I might be pretty close.

Based on Vast Experience….

I think I can confidently say that most of it is lagniappe. Delightful, fun, great for pictures, but still lagniappe. 

But there is one thing that really gets me every single time, and you don’t even have to factor it into your budget at all. It is free. 

The One Thing

I’ll stand by it. Every wedding needs at least one good, genuine toast. At the reception itself. In New Orleans, the tradition is often that the toasts are given at the rehearsal dinner. I don’t go to many of those, but I’m sure they are lovely, intimate experiences, and I’m all for them. But toasts to the couple that happen during the heart of celebration and not just the anticipation– those are really beautiful and worth doing too even if it’s just a repeat from the night before. 

I’ve given five wedding toasts. I’ve heard about a hundred or so. What I like so much about them is the beautiful pause it provides. We stop, for a moment, not to think about the current fashion, lines at the bar or buffet, or where the after party is. We stop and give all our attention to two unique human beings and listen to what those who most love them have to say. We join in wishing them well on what is not an easy and effortless path. We say, “we are cheering you on from the very start of your lives together. You are worth cherishing. We celebrate you, here, on the starting line.”

Does it get much better than that? 

Let me suggest this: I doubt you will remember exactly what your flowers looked like or how the attendants did their hair, even what all you ate, or who you were able to grab a hug from. But I’m pretty certain you will remember something someone you love said to you in a place full of people that love you on the day you did a very life-changing thing. 

I remember what my sister said to me in her toast on that day. And I remember quite well what I said to her a few years before. 

Need something to make your wedding special? A painting is really nice.  A toast from someone who loves you? Even better.

What was the most memorable part of your wedding or one you attended? Have you ever given or received a particularly memorable toast? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Written by Denise Hopkins

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