A Guide to Wedding Toasts

Like so many customs in wedding etiquette, the toast has undergone drastic changes. Many weddings no longer include formal toasts. At others, the toasts seem loose and undefined.

Toasts may be given at the rehearsal party or the bachelor/bachelorette party. For the purposes of this blog, the focus is on toasts at the wedding reception.


Tips for Effective Toasting

  • In general, toasts should be short, sweet, and complimentary. They should not contain insider jokes, slurs or embarrassing anecdotes.
  • The master of ceremonies (who may also be the best man) should make sure all of those who will be asked to give a toast have agreed to and have one prepared.
  • The master of ceremonies announces who will make the toast. It is his job to keep the pace.
  • The person called on to make a toast should ensure everyone’s attention is focused by clinking a glass or tapping the microphone or another gimmick.
  • Immediately upon giving the toast, the toaster asks guests to raise their glasses. Then the toaster leads guests in taking a sip.
  • The toast may be no longer than a simple and sincere wish for happiness, or it can be a quick five minute speech, telling the guests a funny story or happy memory about the couple. While humour can be a great addition to a toast, keep it classy!
  • Remember: The toast is about the bridal couple, not you!
  • It’s fine to use notes but don’t bury your head in them. Have your speech written beforehand and give yourself some time to memorize it!


The Traditional Lineup:

For those who want to follow tradition, here is an outline of who should toast at a wedding and the intent of their toast. If traditional isn’t your style, feel free to do things your way!

  1. First the master of ceremonies (often the best man) introduces himself. He welcomes guests. He introduces the wedding party as they enter. The master of ceremonies is in charge of the order and pacing of the toasts.
  2. Toast to the Bride and Groom made by the best man. The best man’s task is to offer the first toast. As soon as guests have been seated and provided with champagne, sparkling water or other beverage, he raises his glass. If the reception is a cocktail party, then he toasts as soon as the couple enters. His toast should not last longer than a minute or two. Not necessary, but more popular in modern weddings, the maid or matron of honour may also toast.
  3. Father (and mother) of the bride offer a toast to the bride and groom and welcome the wedding guests. The father of the bride and the father of the groom usually say a few words. It has also become more traditional for the mothers of the bride and groom, to speak. Many couples allow whichever parent is more comfortable speaking to do the honors!
  4. The bride and groom respond to hosts’ toast, offer a toast to the parents and say nice things about their attendants, also thanking the guests for being a part of their special day.
  5. The matron of honor may respond and compliment the male members of the wedding party.
  6. Best Man may toast the female attendants. He may also toast the parents.
  7. The Bride’s father (parents) may respond and toast the groom and his parents, welcoming the groom to the family.
  8. The Groom’s father (parents) may respond toasting the bride and her parents and welcoming the bride to the family.
  9. If there are telegrams or emails, IMs or Facebook posts these may be read aloud at some point in the evening or they may be posted.

Have you had a wedding full of awe-worthy toasts? What was your secret! With all of the modern variations of weddings, everyone has a different idea of how to execute the perfect day. Ultimately, it’s up to you! Choose the flow that seems most appropriate and natural, and most importantly- enjoy your wedding!


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