I get asked by couples what is standard when it comes to toasts and here is what I tell them:
- Traditionally the best man gives a toast at the wedding reception and says something nice about the couple, maybe tells a funny story about something stupid the groom did as he was pursuing his bride, and then finishes by wishing them the best that life has to offer them. The maid or matron of honor can also speak, and it is almost commonplace now for both of these two to give toasts during the reception. The maid of honor’s speech is usually something more emotional, and if she is a childhood friend of the bride her toast usually has some sort of silly story about what the bride was like growing up. She then wishes the couple all the best and finishing by asking everyone to raise a glass in the couple’s honor. It doesn’t really matter who goes first, but if you know one is going to be more emotional you may want to leave that one for last.
- Because parents of the bride and groom often host the wedding (aka pay for all or most of the event) they often want an opportunity to say something to the guests, as well. I usually put this directly before the best man and maid of honor’s toasts and suggest that the parent(s) use that time to welcome guests to their child’s wedding and thank everyone for coming. They can go off from there in whatever direction they would like but the welcome and the thank you are pretty much the foundation of what they should be delivering.
- So if you have parents speaking, a best man giving and toast, and a maid or matron of honor toasting, you really don’t want many more captive microphone moments than that. I was at a wedding once where virtually everyone in the bridal party got up to say something and I lost interest after minute 2 1/2. It’s lovely for your attendants to want to wish you well but the bridal shower or the rehearsal dinner makes for a much better suited place for these kinds of moments.
- If you are giving a toast or a speech have a clear idea of what you want to say before you go up there. I can’t count the number of times I hear a best man say that he totally forgot to mention all the good stuff because he got up there and got nervous and thrown off. It’s ok to write things down – in fact I encourage it! Just jot a few basic notes to give yourself a reminder of the topics you want to cover. Trust me when I tell you that this will make for a much more relaxed and well received delivery and sounds a lot better than “Uhhh”, “Ummm”, and “Soooo”.
- And lastly, don’t forget that whoever is giving a toast will be a point if interest for the photographer and videographer. Make sure the guys have their jackets on! And ladies keep those heels on until after this Kodak moment. And please for the love of all things holy please remember to have a glass of champagne or sparkling water with you so that when you ask guests to raise their glass you can raise yours, too. And lastly, and probably most importantly, everyone is nervous when they give a toast. Don’t use the cocktail hour as your personal effort to get as much liquid courage in you as you can. A sober nervous speech wins over a slurred sloppy one every single time.