PETOSKEY, Mich. (AP) – To begin, the rehearsal dinner is the customary time for the parents of the groom or family of the groom to make their toasts to the bride and groom. Occasionally, additional toasts are added here as well.

Traditionally the toasts or greetings at weddings include; a welcome to the guests usually offered by the parents of the bride. Then either before dinner or during the service of dinner the maid (matron) of honor and the best man will offer their toasts to the bride and groom.

Then, when and as desired, the bride and groom may take the opportunity to offer thanks and a toast to each other.

My recommendation is to keep within these guidelines for the reception. If you have others who would like to or must offer toasts it is best to integrate them into the mix following dinner and typically when the band is on break so as to not slow down the momentum of the evening.

Now for the art of the toast. I believe a toast should last no longer than two or three minutes tops (less is even better). It should be bright, loving, include pleasant memories and be complementary to the person you are toasting.

Less is more. A toast lasting longer than four or five minutes begins to become a speech.* A toast is not the time to bring up your sorority or fraternity stories, childhood embarrassments, bad habits, or politics.

It is the time to honor your friend or sibling and show your love. Ask that the guests have a beverage to toast with and then as you approach the end of your toast ask those around you to raise their glass in tribute and well wishes for the bride and groom. Cheers!

If you know in advance that your attendants are going to deliver a longer speech it is very helpful to let your caterer (and possibly other vendors) know so as to plan for your dinner to be the very best it can be.

Kris Rundblad is owner of Merry Makers, a social and corporate event planning company.