wediquette :: toasts

There are generally two wedding occasions where formal toasts will be made – the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception. Though there are many people who may participate in the wedding toasts, it is important that two people do it well – the Best Man and the Maid of Honor. Others might include the parents of the Bride and Groom and the Bride and Groom themselves.

The Preparation

• Prepare ahead of time – this is an event at which you want to be careful. Your words will be remembered and may even be captured on video for eternity. Preparation will make sure you don’t say something negative which may spontaneously slip into your mind like, “I hope your marriage doesn’t end in divorce like mine.” Practice the toast so you don’t stumble or say things you later regret, especially if you will be drinking before the toast. Read your toast to a friend to polish it.

• Identify your relationship to the bride and groom. Everyone may not know your significance in their lives.

• A quote is a good beginning. Look at quotes online for some ideas.

• Tell a brief touching, personal story – such as how the bride and groom met, how you met either of them, or some other memorable event. Use a few descriptive adjectives, hitting the most important points (i.e., she’s lovely, warm hearted, and gentle). Don’t give a long list of characteristics. Use tasteful humor and not trendy jokes that only a few people will understand. Be inclusive for as many as possible, not exclusive to a few. Stay PG-rated in case children are present. Do not talk about past romantic relationships or past marriages.

• End on a serious and highly positive note with a wish, a blessing, congratulations, or cheers!. For instance:
o “To the bride and groom”!
o “Please join me in toasting to Mr. and Mrs. [name].”
o “May you live a long and prosperous life together.”

• Things not to do – it could get you into big trouble.
o Use one liner jokes that get laughs at parties.
o Tell risqué jokes.
o Tell trendy jokes that many people won’t understand.
o Tell ex-girlfriend / boyfriend stories.
o Make fun of the bride.
o Make the groom or bride look like a slacker, loser, or drunkard.
o Ramble on about the good old days.

The Toast

1. The crowd will usually be called to attention using a traditional attention getter like clinking a glass with a utensil or the DJ, bandleader, or Master of Ceremonies announcing that toasting will begin.
2. Stand to deliver – in honor of giving a toast. Sit to receive – if a toast is given to you, sit as a spectator.
3. Make sure all the glasses are full before you begin and indicate everyone should have a glass to participate. Those that don’t drink alcohol can have water or sparkling cider in their glass.
4. Limit your toast to about 3-5 minutes long.
5. Keep eye contact with the bride and groom as you deliver – everything is done in their honor.
6. End with raising your glass, prompting everyone else to do the same, with your closing toast.
7. Sit down promptly so the next person can proceed.

The Order of Toasts

Rehearsal Dinner…. The rehearsal dinner is a less formal than the reception, so there is more leeway to telling more humorous or memorable stories about uncles, aunts, etc. You also want to thank all the out of town guests for coming.
Wedding Reception….. The Wedding Reception usually has a degree of formality about it, so take more care in what is said and the length of your toast.