Even with modern weddings, I find that most of my clients still opt to have toasts as part of their reception. Wedding toasts are a wonderful way to bring everyone together and for attendants and family to take a few moments to recognize and celebrate the joy of the couple. They also give the couple themselves an opportunity (if they wish) to thank all the people that helped make their wedding possible. According to Martha Stewart,
"Long ago, sharing a drink was a way to show trust. The term toast originated from the piece of bread placed in a cup of wine to absorb the sediment that settled at the bottom. The cup would be passed around and the "toast" became the prize of whoever reached it first."
Sounds lovely, right? However, considering that one of the top shared fears is public speaking, giving a toast can be somewhat intimidating. Also, most couples have no idea of when to do toasts or who should speak. I have seen a myriad of toasts given at weddings now and today I am here to provide a few "do's and don't" for your wedding toasts based on research and my own professsional experience. (Please note that I am only addressing toasts given during a reception, although they can be made at the rehearsal dinner as well).
Photo by: Michelle Renee Photography
If you are keeping with tradition, then the best man is the first one to give the toast. He is followed by the MOH. At this point, the couple may choose to say a few words and thank their attendants and family members. However, I often find that couples opt out of doing this and would rather just sit back and enjoy watching their loved ones give the toasts. Finally, toasts are closed by the parents of the couple with the party hosting the wedding going first (typically the brides' parents) and welcoming the guests.
Do: Change the order/people toasting as best suits you and your wedding! Also, make sure your wedding planner/coordinator and the person in charge of MC'ing your event know the order and names of everyone toasting well in advance of the wedding day. This will better allow for a smooth and seamless transition into toasts.
Don't: Allow too many people to toast or your guests will lose interest (you can always have toasts at the rehearsal dinner as well!). Also, try not to pressure anyone to give a toast that is uncomfortable. Chances are, they will be nervous and will likely not give the best toast.
Photo by: Annamarie Akins Photography
I find that it is best to do toasts during a time when everyone is seated or together, like right before dinner or before/after the cake cutting. However, there is a lot of wiggle room here depending on the type of meal and wedding you are having. Formal, seated dinners are much different than buffet style meals. Take this into consideration when planning for the timing of the toasts. Also, if you are doing a blessing before dinner, I would suggest doing the toasts after dinner is finished (you can even do them during dinner if the meal is served).
Do: Play around with the timing and select something that works best for you! Get your wedding planner/coordinator's input if you are using one and feel stuck.
Don't: Break up the toasts throughout the night. I would suggest keeping the toasts together and doing them all at the same time to ensure the best flow and timing for your event.
Photo by: Natalie Sinisgalli Photography
For formal and traditional weddings you would serve champagne or sparkling wine (poured and served by your caterer). However, many couples are opting to do a "drink in hand" toast for more modern/less formal weddings.
Do: Have fun with what you use to toast!
Don't: Feel pressured to serve something fancy!
Here are a few final suggestions:
Do: If you are the one toasting, make it funny (if that's your lane) and personal! Guests love to feel a mixture of laughter and heartwarming emotions at a wedding.
Don't: Do a roast. Ever. I witnessed this once when I was a guest at a wedding and it is just bad. Not only does it make the couple uncomfortable but the wedding guests as well. Just, no. If you are unsure if what you are saying is appropriate, then simply err on the side of caution.
Do: Keep it short and sweet. Two to three minutes per toast is ideal (and you would be surprised at how much you can say in that time frame)!
Don't: Go on and on and on. The guests will start nodding off and you could throw off the timing of other activities.
Do: Don't forget to raise the glass! You would be surprised by how many times people forget this step! Then take a sip.
Don't: Gulp the whole thing and get drunk while you are standing up there. Just sayin ;-).
I hope this helps you think through the toasts for your wedding reception or helps give you some pointers if you will be the one making the toast. There are tons of resources on the internet so if you feel stuck, that's a good place to start! And most importantly, have fun with it! Remember, this is supposed to be fun - don't take it too seriously. The best weddings are the ones that are personal, meaningful, and not stressful.