Etiquette for Wedding Toasts

by Claire Valenty on January 13, 2011

in Wedding Etiquette

wedding toast etiquette

Some of the most heartfelt and tear-jerking sentiments are shared during the wedding toast.  More often than not, though, some of the most embarrassing moments happen because of the wedding toast.  These top ten tips on wedding toasting will help keep you in the former category.

  • Be prepared. Don’t think you can just get up there and start talking.  You need to have a structured speech that you have rehearsed numerous times, including in front of other people.
  • Keep it short. Unless you are an amazing public speaker who can keep everyone enthralled for hours, make is short, sweet and to the point.
  • Know your audience. If it’s a casual wedding with close friends and you know everyone in attendance and how they will react, you might be able to get away with the odd swear word or two in your speech.  If you have even the slightest doubt something may not be well received, do not say it.
  • Mention both of the couples in your speech. If you are the maid of honor, your speech will focus mostly on the bride, but, don’t forget to say a few kind words at the end about the groom.  Same goes for the best man.
  • Keep stories that might embarrass the bride and/or groom out of your speech. Especially if they concern old boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • Know beforehand when you should give your toast. This is entirely up to the bride and groom.  An example of an order is below.  A “traditional” order cannot be given as everyone has done it their own way for so long, the traditional way has been lost.
    • Whomever is hosting the party should open up the reception (usually, the bride’s father) with a short speech and then a toast to the bride and groom.
    • The groom should follow with a toast thanking his family and the bride’s (especially the father, who paid for it all!), his best man, as well as the bridesmaids.  However, I have never been to a wedding where the groom performed a toast.  I have been to one where the bride performed one.  It is your day, so, whatever you want to do, works!
    • The best man and then the maid of honor round out the traditional toasting order, usually during dinner.
  • Stand up and hold a drink when giving your toast. Sounds pretty basic, but, you’d be surprised how many people forget!
  • If you are being honored with a toast, do not drink at the end. Simply thank the person giving the toast.  To take a drink would be like giving yourself a pat on the back.
  • When someone is finished giving a toast that is when the rest of the attendees join in. If there is a large group, you do not need to clink your glass with others, but, simply raise yours and say “Cheers” (or whatever else is customary in your circle).  If it is a small group, you should clink your glasses with others, being sure to look the person in the eye when your glasses touch.
  • Do not open the floor for other toasts. I cringe when I think of one of my good friend’s weddings where I got up to make a drunken, (and, I thought, sentimental) speech only to see the tape of it later…you cannot undo it and no one wants to hear someone rambling on!

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