Geek Confessional: I once gave a wedding toast in Klingon

So a few weeks ago, I saw a post on Facebook that reminded me that it was my friends Rob and Nicki’s 20th anniversary. I could scarcely believe that their wedding was twenty years ago. Theirs was the first wedding that I stood up in. Rob asked me to be his best man.

He probably should have rethought that choice.

See, here’s the thing. Rob and I were roommates my sophomore year in college. He and I bonded over an afternoon of playing Street Fighter II. And when I say an afternoon, I mean five or six hours of solid play. We were a bit disoriented when we emerged from Walther Basement and headed for the dining hall, but a solid friendship had been forged, enough that when I found myself in need of a new roommate, he was the first person I asked.

Turns out it was a good choice, because we shared one other passion: Star Trek: The Next Generation. Or, to be more specific, a love for a certain half-Betazoid counselor.

troi in personYes, Rob and I had a thing for Counselor Deanna Troi. As a matter of fact, I seem to remember that at one point, the two of us stood in line for two or three hours just to get Marina Sirtis’s autograph. I barely got to talk to her because one of her handlers got too chatty. According to Rob, the two of them shared a deep emotional connection from the moment their eyes met.

But shortly thereafter, Rob met Nicki and the two of them got engaged and eventually married. And, like I said, he asked me to be his best man, meaning that I had to give the toast at the reception.

Being the thoughtful, mature individual that I was, I knew I had to give at least part of the toast in Klingon. I mean, that’s what friends do, right?

The_cover_from_The_Klingon_DictionaryThankfully, I had purchased an English-to-Klingon dictionary a year earlier, and I figured that I could cobble together a decent toast. And I did my best, really!

But apparently my limited grasp of Klingon wasn’t quite good enough.

See, at the time, I had a summer job at the Vlasic pickle factory in Bonduel, Wisconsin. I don’t know how the subject came up, but I wound up telling one of my coworkers that I would be taking some time off to go to Rob and Nicki’s wedding. That led to explaining my plan to toast the happy couple in Klingon. Little did I realize, the man I was speaking to was an expert in Klingon. No kidding. This was a guy who was intimately involved in the numerous translation projects that Star Trek fans undertook, like translating Shakespeare or the Bible into Klingon. He asked to see what I had put together. I showed him, and it turned out that I had messed up the grammar. He spent some time figuring out what I really needed to say and handed me a much longer toast.

I hate to admit this, but that kind of freaked me out a little.

Anyway, the time eventually came for me to give the toast. Once everyone was ready, I stood up and introduced myself, and explained how Rob and I both loved Star Trek, and that I thought it might work to give a toast in Klingon. You know, something like this… And then I read what the Klingon expert who worked in a pickle factory wrote for me.

Now here’s where my plan kind of took an unintentional swerve. See, Rob was a theatre student like me. He has a great sense of humor and a great sense of improv.

I should have remembered that.

rob john klingon toastThe moment I finished my little spiel in Klingon, Rob launched out of his chair, looking like he was ready to murder me.

Everyone laughed. Everyone was sure that we had planned that little bit of comedy. No, we hadn’t, and Rob’s addition caused me to completely forget what I was going to say after the Klingon stuff.

I muddled through, throwing together something about how Rob and Nicki were very musically gifted (and they are; they actually sang a duet together as part of their wedding) and how I hoped their lives would be a duet. Or something like that. I honestly can’t remember.

Now you may have noticed that I didn’t share the Klingon part of the toast. Sadly, I don’t remember what I said and I gave Rob and Nicky my crib sheet. But this is still a favorite memory of mine.

So I’m wondering: have you ever been to a wedding where the bride and/or groom and/or wedding party did something particularly geeky? If so, share the story below!


  1. My sister and brother-in-law bonded over a love of “The Legend of Zelda,” so they had a little Link & Zelda on their wedding cake. Also: my sister’s processional was Princess Leia’s theme.

  2. I have also given a best-man toast in Klingon. Though I’m actually a conversational speaker and probably know the guy that helped you (now I’m going to have to go around asking all the Klingon speakers I know, where they work). The groom does not speak Klingon, but we share many geeky passions so I knew he would appreciate it. The bride is not such a geek, but I knew she expected nothing less from me. I did the majority of my speech in English and then did the actual toast at the end in Klingon. When the videographer found out it was Klingon she spent the rest of the reception trying to get me to say more in Klingon.

  3. I had a Yoda grooms cake at my wedding…

  4. Ha! John I can still remember the look of shock on your face when I jumped up. The chair flying across the floor was great for additional affect. It had to be one of the only times I have seen you at a loss for words. You’re awesome! Or I should say.. “SoH ghaH wejpuH!”

  5. Pingback: Author Interview: John W. Otte

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