The Do’s And The Don’ts

Giving a wedding toast is a special moment during the rehearsal dinner or wedding reception.  Here are a few tips on toasting etiquette. 


First things first.  Oftentimes, when a toast is given to the bride and groom they will be seen raising their glasses and drinking to themselves.  Wrong!  During a toast TO the bride and groom, the couple should NEVER stand, raise their glasses, and NEVER drink to themselves.


They should thank the toasters or at least smile and graciously nod, however they are not obliged to propose a toast in return.


Toasts can be offered with a sip of champagne, wine, a mixed drink or non-alcoholic punch, but never with tea, coffee or water.  The toasting beverage should be served to the bride first, then the groom, followed by the maid of honor, the parents and lastly the best man.


Traditionally, the first toast is given by the best man.  It’s proper for him to thank the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom.  He should also thank the groom for choosing him as the best man.


A toast should be brief. Never read a lengthy quote or poem, or recount a long-winded story about you and the groom as young chaps.  Get a laugh, get sentimental, be gracious, thank some people, keep it very short and sit down.  Speak slowly and loudly enough for all guests to hear.


Never do a toast impromptu.  Think about it.  Preparation is essential.  Jot down a few notes and remember, you can’t get it wrong, because no one knows what you are going to say.  Practice giving the toast several times in front of a mirror. 


Make sure your toast sounds like you.  It’s okay to have some fun with the toast, but remember that you should generally wind it up in a sincere manner.  The most beautiful sentiment you can express is to discuss what change you’ve seen in the couple since they met.  Use your good judgment about which topics “not” to joke about.  Keep in mind that you are speaking to a wide demographic and some people will take what you say very seriously.  Never share any embarrassing stories. If only a handful of people will understand an inside story, skip it.


If you’re nervous, that’s normal. You may feel the need to have a drink or two before your toast to relax you; but don’t let it backfire by consuming too much alcohol before your toast.  If you are drunk, everyone will know, and you will not leave a great impression on your audience.


Now, let’s get started.  Make sure everyone has their glasses filled, then make a few tink-tink-tinks against a water glass to get everyone’s attention.  Raise your glass with your right hand.  Be sure that the glass is held straight from the shoulder (that’s traditional).  

Your toast should end with wording which makes it clear to the guests that the end has come. It’s easy to do this with a bit of flair, just bring your voice up a notch in volume, and say, for example, “It is with great pleasure that I say congratulations to (Bride) and (Groom). . . may you share many warm days and many warm nights . . . everybody raise your glass . . . here’s to (Bride) and (Groom) . . .”


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One Response to “Toasts”

  1. a toast « jim’s blog Says:

    […]      Humor must tread lightly so as not to insult. Self-deprecation is generally the safe route. I am also intrigued by the possibility of working in material that would be funny on the face of it, but even more funny to some subset of the audience that gets the deeper meaning, though inside jokes are probably best skipped. Two recent family toasts also come to mind. A cousin of mine, referring to our family, but addressing the family marrying into ours, said, “We may look like alcoholics, but we’re not…alcoholics go to meetings.” I have considered quoting him, but adding that the joke has gotten less funny in the intervening years. One youtube groom started his toast by saying, “I’m John, and I’m an alcoholic.” At my sister’s wedding, my brother told her spouse, “Welcome to the family gene pool, please bathe before entering.” A typically funny twist is the unexpected ending, such as when the best man talks about the special moment that changed the groom’s life, and goes on to say it was when the groom met the best man. Typically short-cuts to laughs include off-color remarks, alluding to brevity in love-making, and so on. Those seem better avoided. In any case, toast-making is a fun challenge. There are some tips at other blogs. […]

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