Toasting: why so many people hate this wedding tradition

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Player 1 Player 2 champagne toasting flutes from GlassCannons

Sometimes we gossip with our wedding industry vendor friends. We like to get the scoop about things they're seeing more often at weddings (ring warmings! hand fastings!) and just generally get the insider gossip. And you know what our vendor friends are telling us? That basically, almost everyone hates wedding toasts.

And you know what? Based on what we see people searching for on Offbeat Bride, we think our vendor friends are onto something. No one seems to want to do toasts.

No one knows how to do a wedding toast

Here are a few of the searches we see on Offbeat Bride:

  • how to write a wedding toast
  • wedding toast tips
  • wedding toast help

Ok, so it's clear that the people who are supposed to be giving wedding toasts don't know what to do. We've gotten advice emails from groomsmen and family members being like “Ug, I have no idea what to say!” Why do we keep forcing them to say anything?

Lots of couples are embarrassed by wedding toasts

Yeah, we know this one REAL well. Tons of couples hate wedding toasts because they're embarrassing and awkward. Again, a sampling of searches we see on Offbeat Bride:

  • how to avoid embarrassing wedding toasts
  • how to cut off a wedding toast
  • wedding toast alternatives

So yeah: lots of couples loathe wedding toasts, especially shy brides and introverted couples.

Vendors struggle with toasts too

And what about our gossipy vendor friends? The ones whose jobs it is to make sure their client's wedding run smoothly, and that everyone has a good time? They struggle with wedding toasts for all sorts of reasons. A shortlist of complaints we've heard:

…There's no good time for toasts!

There's really no good time for toasts. At the beginning of dinner (traditional timing) too many speeches can really mess up the quality of the food service, as keeping everything fresh and ready to go is really tough when you have no idea when to serve it. Near the end of dinner (my preferred spot to place toasts) works better for food service, and guests are generally better listeners on full tummies.

However, this spot can sometimes cause so much anxiety on the part of a reluctant toasters that they get screwed out of the meal entirely. I've personally seen a few delicious meals go completely untouched because the poor person didn't want to eat until they'd “gotten through” their toast for fear of puking out of terror.

…Toasts always take too long!

Guests are often-times tortured if speeches go too long. I tell my couples to aim for four toasts max (two wedding party, two parental), with no more than three minutes apiece. (People always go long if you don't give them a time structure.)One of my weddings this summer had toasts for an hour and ten minutes! Guests were pulling me aside and asking me, “when are these over?” The bride and groom looked miserable.

Toasts also take away valuable time with the photographer! I think most couples would want better party/dancing photos than pictures of people talking.

…Toasts can embarrass couples and ruin receptions!

I've got some horror stories of toasts gone wrong, but even under the best circumstances they just result in embarrassment to the couple (…why do people think it's OK to talk about exes?!!! GAH!). I've seen one bride brought to tears she was so upset about a toast gone wrong.
My professional facepalm toast highlight was the VERY very drunk toaster who was so damn loud on the mic (rock star SCREAMING: WOOO! YEAAAAHHH! LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE COUPLE WOOOOOOOO!) that he blew out the sound system entirely, effectively bringing both his toast and the entire reception to a full stop.
For the love of God, never “open it up” to anyone who has a toast to share. You're just inviting awkwardness for everyone.

Ok, so to summarize

  • Lots of guests asked to do toasts don't know wtf to say
  • Lots of couples don't like the attention that toasts bring
  • Lots of vendors have issues with the timing and logistics of toasts

The question then becomes, would anyone REALLY care if wedding toasts just stopped happening? What if they just slipped into the night of wedding traditions that don't really happen any more?

Well, wait: toasts do fulfill a solid purpose: they give guests the opportunity to tell the couple how much they love and support them. So, let's get meta: what other ways your guests have the opportunity to honor you?

A few of the schemes we've come up with:

  • Do your toasts at the rehearsal dinner — it's a much more intimate platform.
  • Have your guestbook act as the way that guests can share their well-wishings with you.
  • Hashtag Instagram or TikTok videos. You could even set a monitor up with a TagBoard feed of your guests' wedding wishes.

We'd love to hear from y'all: are toasts a terrible wedding tradition that needs to die? Do you totally love them? What toasting-alternatives can we come up with?

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Comments on Toasting: why so many people hate this wedding tradition

  1. I nixed toasts at our wedding. We had a Quaker ceremony, so our guests had plenty of time to share their thoughts, hopes and support with us during the open worship. Still, at our reception, my brand new brother-in-law stood up midway through the meal and said, “Against the wishes of the bride, I’d like to make a toast. Here’s to Emmy and James and a long, happy marriage!” It was perfect! Short and sweet, not embarrassing, and genuine in its spontaneity. Plus, we got a great photo out of it.

    • We’re not having a Quaker ceremony (though our friends have asked us to, hah!), and there’s a lot of people who want to say something. I don’t know how to let people talk outside of using toasts during the reception. I would love to figure out ways to either borrow from the Quaker ceremony in our ceremony, or to incorporate our guests’ “thoughts, hopes, and support” in other ways during the day.

  2. I’ve been to two weddings (out of probably two dozen) where the toasts were really well done. The two things those toasts included were 1) the toasting person knew both members of the couple very well and consequently gave a sneak peek into their lives and couplehood for those of us who didn’t know the couple as well, and 2) They kept it short, funny, and loving. Perhaps part of why The Toast is dying is because we don’t see it done well often enough to keep it a positive, awesome part of the celebration?

    I love the modern ideas of showing support to couples, but I am not ready to throw *good* toasts away. I think most of us know whether we have someone in our lives who is capable of making such a toast and that might be a deciding factor in having them at all.

    • Totally agree. I gave a great toast at my best friend’s wedding (if I do say so myself!) and the toasts were one of the highlights of my cousin’s recent wedding. They hit all the marks you mentioned — short, funny, sweet, and by people who knew the couple well and were comfortable speaking in public. The groom even got up to toast his parents and new in-laws, which I thought was a really nice gesture (don’t know if this is a typical thing in British weddings…).

    • Yes, the toast is certainly a dying tradition, but it can be so nice when actually done well. At my FBIL’s wedding, my FH gave a wonderful toast that people complimented him on all night. It had the right amount of funny and sweet, lasting only a few minutes and all prepared ahead of time. Then the bride’s sister stood up, left her prepared speech at home and tried to wing it, and it was soo awkward. She had no idea how to finish it out and accidentally said something that made it sound like she was bitter because her younger sister was getting married first.
      But there really is something to be said about a good toast. Couples getting married should just determine whether those they’re asking to give a toast would actually be good at it and comfortable or not.

  3. We considered skipping toasts, but found the audio really powerful as a voiceover during the highlight video 🙂

    • THAT is a great idea! I have been stressing over which Metallica song is the most romantic for the highlight video because we don’t like “sappy” music. THIS may be a solution.

  4. My sister just got married on Saturday (10.12.13) I was MOH. And I’m pretty sure I gave a kick-ass speech.

    Short and Sweet is key. I did a twist on an Irish toast (my maternal grandparents are immigrants)

    “Here’s to lying, cheating, stealing, and drinking!

    May you always lie in the arms of the one you love

    May you both cheat illness and bad times and have a long life together

    May you continue to steal each other’s hearts in the years to come

    May we all drink to your love and your continued happiness for the rest of your days.

    …. And I’m so excited to finally have a brother!

    Sláinte (Gaelic for cheers)”

    • My fiance is also of Irish descent. I’m going to email this to his Best Man, should we decide to keep the “toasting” route. Thanks for sharing it.

      • Email away. I had a hell of a time trying to format this toast appropriately. The traditional way starts out “never lie, cheat , steal, or drink…” Then it goes on to say “if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love” and so on and I thought it was just too much text and people would have a hard time following.. Also I’m kind of considered the “troublemaker” in the family so starting the speech how I did just felt appropriate to me.

  5. Thank you for giving me permission to eliminate toasts from my wedding entirely! More than anything else about my wedding, the “toasting” part makes me anxious. I don’t deal well at all with sappy, whether it’s directed at me, toward someone else, or on TV. My fiance kept his proposal to “you’re an amazing woman, I love you, will you marry me, here’s a ring” for that very reason. Also, my sister (my MOH) is painfully shy, my fiance’s best man can be terribly inappropriate, my father thinks it’s funny to chide me in public and my future MIL cried so much during her toast at her daughter’s wedding that she could barely get any words out. For all these reasons, the thought of “toast time” makes me cringe. We also discussed doing toasts at our rehearsal dinner and getting it over with so the people who feel like they HAVE to say something can and we could enjoy the wedding without fear. We also are going to have a photo booth with “video testimonial” options so I like that idea. Thanks!

    • Your proposal reminds me of mine – “You’re awesome and we’re awesome together, you should take this.” Less because I don’t like sappy and more because he was so damn nervous!

  6. At our wedding, we had a quick cake and champagne reception immediately following the wedding and then our very tiny wedding party went to a restaurant for dinner. Since I knew we weren’t going to have any privacy at the restaurant, I asked our guests to deliver any “toasts, prayers, chants, or empowerment exercises” at the cake reception. I was mostly worried about having a big group prayer (which is traditional in my family but not at all what Husband or I wanted), but I wanted it to apply to toasts too. Our Best Woman gave a really short toast with the champagne that was something to the effect of, “Don’t fuck it up.” Loved it!

  7. I felt kind of “meh” about having toasts at our wedding, but I thought they were expected, so we had them. They ended up being THE BEST part of our wedding! My husband and I dated for 10 years before we were married, starting when we were 17, so everyone who spoke had known us both for a long time. And I guess we just have awesome, smart, funny friends (and relatives), because the toasts made us laugh, cry, and get the “warm fuzzies.” I felt they gave the ceremony a lot of depth and meaning. I’m so glad we didn’t skip the toasts.

    We had a fairly small gathering, and I truthfully don’t recall when they happened in the evening. Before dinner?

  8. I hate toasts because it seems like a lot of toasters take the opportunity to trot out a bunch of cliches and the exact sort of gender role/marriage is DOOM hogwash that I’d be working really gosh-darn hard to avoid. And then there’s always that forced laughter afterwards where you can hear the eye roll in their polite chuckles. I think it’s important to lay out to your toast-givers exactly what sort of nonsense won’t be welcome.

    I love the idea of the TagBoard feed, maybe even projected up on a wall somewhere. That gives guests who are interested the opportunity to check it out, plus it adds a little entertainment to the night–I KNOW my friends would try to outdo each other with awesome notes, photos and wishes!

  9. While I know a lot of people aren’t fond of them I really like them. I think the key is to stress to the people you are asking that this is totally optional.

    I think if you have some one close to you who is a natural performer it might be a great way to honor them. One of my friends asked her sister to do a toast and she wrote a Suessian rhyme about their friendship and it was amazing. Another one, simultaneously made the mother of the bride cry with laughter and the preacher leave in only 5 or 6 lines. Some toasts can be really great.

    We ended up with 5 “speakers” at our reception. My Grandfather said grace before the meal. He’s not a public speaker, but prayer is important to him. He got nervous and fell back on his altar boy roots and said it in Latin. While it was far from “perfect” it was actually perfect. That one moment meant a lot to me and my family, and I think gave a bit of a glimpse of my background to the grooms side (not to mention made me bawl and hug him, resulting in pictures where you can see I am the younger female image of him.)

    Then my dad and sister, who are both natural speech givers, and do great in the courtroom and classroom, cried through their speeches. This again caught me off guard and the amount of love was totally overwhelming.

    We had two best men. One had been deployed with my husband. His short speech alluded to a few things they had gone through together without being embarrassing or revealing. This did open the door for my husband to talk to me about a few things he had never told me. It brought us closer.

    His twin brother is super quiet and reserved so we figured he wouldn’t take us up on the invitation to a toast. When he stood up his whole side of the family waited with baited breath. I’ve always thought he wasn’t a fan of me, because I’m…..boisterous and his total opposite. I struggled with feeling like I would never be able to be friends with him let alone consider him family. Now I know that my brother-in-law, not only approves of our marriage but also looks at me as family in his own quiet way.

    While I know a lot of guests aren’t fans of speeches, there are also some things in weddings and receptions that aren’t really for guests. I might be nice to have everything smooshed into a ceremony and just a boozy good time after, but sometimes its nice to keep the love flowing I guess.

  10. I thought about nixing the toasts, but we decided to keep them and I am so happy we did. Husband and I both asked our groomsMEN and Ladies of Awesome if there were any of them that actually wanted to give toasts at all. My maid of honor and one of husband’s groomsmen *leaped* at the opportunity to toast. And then more and more people told us they wanted to toast. So we let them!

    Everyone got brinner via the buffet and about 10 minutes into dinner my maid of honor and husband’s groomsman gave short and sweet toasts. We laughed, we teared up, we got embarrassed (in good ways!), and felt so much love. Then we opened the mic up to anyone that felt like they wanted to give a toast for the rest of dinner. The mic stayed pretty empty for a while, but it was very no pressure. We’re all just enjoying dinner. If you feel like giving a toast, go for it. Don’t feel like giving a toast? No worries. We’ll keep eating. And then we had friends coming up and giving short, spontaneous toasts. It was so sweet! Again with the tears, the laughter, the embarrassment, and the good feelings. Two friends quickly came up with a shared toast and it was one of the best parts of the evening!

    Toasts were definitely something we felt we could live without during the wedding planning. However, when the people spoke we let them do it. If it didn’t matter that much to us and it really mattered to them, who am I to say no when it isn’t costing us any extra money? I’m so glad we gave our guests the opportunity to speak their minds. Although, now I think about it, half of the guests were actors/in theatre. That may have had something to do with it…

  11. I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one who hates toasts! I hate toasts when I go to weddings, and I don’t want them at my wedding. I don’t really do well with super open, public affection, and there are some people coming to my wedding that I definitely do not want to give a microphone to.

  12. Hey now, toasts are one of my favorite parts of weddings! Probably because I’ve never witnessed any of the epically bad moments described in this post. The funniest toast I can remember was at a wedding where one of my college friends was the groom. The best man went to our college’s rival school, and made a wise crack about our college in his toast. This prompted all the guests from my school– including the groom!– to loudly boo the best man. Seemed like the best man knew this would happen, and it got a big laugh from the room.

  13. I think toasts stick around because it’s one of the ways that grooms can honor their groomsmen and brothers, and vice versa – they allow guys to honor and say nice things about each other in a manly way. There’s so much inbuilt hoopla to the bridesmaid experience – you’re gonna get gifts, you’re gonna get your hair did, you’re all gonna hug and cry, etc – but for guys, it’s drinking, getting a tie, and making a speech. It’s tough, like all public speaking is tough, and yes, it could be bad or awkward on either side, but still, I don’t see the tradition dying off anytime soon.

  14. I actually love toasts!! My family is very well-spoken and not shy, so many of the weddings I’ve been to have had wonderful, touching toasts. There is one discrepancy, though…so far every best man has really been terrible at their speeches. Whether they were drunk or just obviously forgot to write something down, they would get up there, ramble, go on too long, and then end on an awkward note. Nothing super offensive but always boring and a little embarrassing. Hoping our best man will do better, but if he doesn’t it won’t ruin anything!

  15. As a guest I’ve sat through some horrifying toasts. Sometimes it seems like best-case scenario someone just sobs incoherently while holding a microphone. Then there are the hackneyed jokes about the bride being a controlling bitch, and the one dudebro who used his entire toast to make a shitty “joke” about the groom being “gay”.
    I did decide to have toasts at my own wedding though. My husband and I chose two specific people who we knew were good, trustworthy public speakers. They wisely kept their toasts short, and it turned out nice. But I wouldn’t have included toasts if I thought the toast-givers would say something offensive, and I would never force toast-giving duties on someone painfully shy. Also: feed your guests first, for sure!

  16. Is it weird that I want to keep toasts just so we have an excuse to honor our guests? They’re there because we love them, and they’ve done amazing things for us. So it’d be nice to pay some respects in a brief speech for all the love they’ve given us.

    • I think it’s fine for the couple to toast their guests, keeping it shorter, or at least letting people eat. It’s the guests toasting the couple that can go awry..

  17. The toasts were probably one of the best parts of my first wedding, actually — but my family *always* does toasts and I guess they keep in practice? And now that we’re divorced, the toasts, particularly from my parents, are the only part of the wedding I revisit . (And I have four parents, so even if we had done dances, I probably wouldn’t have had a special dance with each.)

  18. THANK YOU for giving us permission to nix the toasts. We are getting married in 3 days and were both dreading that awful moment when the wrong person picks up the microphone. If people really *need* to say something, they can say it at the rehearsal dinner.

  19. Yeah, I was asked to give a speech at a wedding recently, and even though she said it was optional, I still felt like I should give it a try. And oh man, it caused so much anxiety! I ended up winging it and it went over well, but I was left with very mixed feelings about the toasts thing. I think my dad (who is paying for the reception so gets some input) expects us to do toasts, but I wouldn’t wish the stress I dealt with on anyone. And yeah, a lot of toasts are pretty boring, especially where they end up telling a lot of in-jokes and the like. Much like commencement speeches, actually.

  20. Toasts were problematic for us too. All my bridesmaids were too shy to speak, but all the groomsmen were chomping at the bit, so we had a gaggle of groomsmen giving awkward toasts. Finally, when one of my friends who wasn’t a bridesmaid saw that none of the bridesmaids were going to speak, she jumped up and gave a touching, impromptu toast that I’ll never forget. Nonetheless, I wish I could get in my time machine now, go back 6 months and declare our reception a toast-free zone. (Maybe with a cartoon of toast under a buster sign.)

  21. I love toasts! Maybe I just know enough theatrical people that I’ve never seen the awkward ones, but I love hearing stories about the couple from their friends and parents, and I loved giving a toast at my sister’s wedding.

    …But I certainly don’t think they should be mandatory. People who are afraid of public speaking shouldn’t be put in that position, and couples who don’t like all the attention shouldn’t have yet ANOTHER part of the wedding be a spotlight on them. This should definitely be another “if you don’t want it, don’t do it.”

  22. I definitely see that toasts can be awkward and boring (trust me, I’ve been to weddings) but for our wedding, we didn’t force anyone to do them and sent out a fb post to some close friends saying that if you want to you can, and we’d also like lit/poem readings! We had 2 girls do a reading of the most beautiful poem that meant so much more than a regular toast! It was a great alternative! Also, we had buffet style food that everyone had already grabbed and started munching on before. It was really surprising how many people got up and did toasts, but since our wedding was so laid back , the majority of them were HILARIOUS! Such as my sisters husband coming up and saying, “May the Force be with You.” It can’t get much better than that!!!!! XD

  23. my best friend’s wife’s MOH had an AWFUL toast that embarrassed one of his groomsmen (and herself, to be honest). that alone guaranteed i’d never, ever, EVER want to deal with toasts.

  24. It might have a lot to do with the formality of the wedding – people feel that the more formal a wedding is, the toasts must be emphasized more and consequently longer. I’ve seen informal weddings with short and sweet toasts, and formal weddings with a gaggle of toasting.

    I once came across in an etiquette book that the number of people who toast and were toasted was ridiculous: groom toasting the bride, bridesmaids, his parents, her parents. Bride toasting the groom, his groomsmen, her parents, his parents. Best man toasting the bridal couple. Maid of honor toasting bridal couple. Father of bride toasting bridal couple and groom’s parents. Father of groom toasting bridal couple and bride’s parents. Bridal couple toasts grandparents … it’s practically endless! No wonder everyone hates toasts.

    The fiancé and I haven’t made any plans for toasts, but we’re keeping it small (less than a dozen people), and both our fathers are introverts. Our best friends from high school *might* toast us, as they’ve known us for almost two decades and they’re extroverts, so it’ll probably be very entertaining if they do.

    I dare anyone to have toast thrown at the bride and groom like in the audience participation part of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. I would, but the restaurant wouldn’t like it. ^_^

  25. We has some traditional things at our wedding and some not so traditional things! We toasted each other with chocolate milk after our cake. However, we did not have anyone make a toast. Actually, I don’t think I ever even thought about it until I read this article! So I think it can die… 🙂

  26. And my grandfather’s 80th birthday, our toasts consisted of everyone at the table telling short, sweet (or sometimes funny) stories about him. It would be nice if that could happen organically at my wedding- I certainly wouldn’t demand my guests each take a turn going on about how awesome me and my man are! I guess I’ll just let things happen as they happen, toasts or no toasts.

    • The best way to have things happen “organically” is to have a couple of people designated to start it. Pull aside a couple people ahead of time and ask them to “spontaneously” start reminiscing. If they act like they’re copying each other, other people are more likely to get involved too.

  27. I like toasts when they’re done well, as others have said, short, sweet and funny. My Dad gave a great toast at my brother’s wedding and I’m looking forward to him doing the same at mine. But I think if you’re going to allow toasts, you need to pre-ask people… at my friend’s wedding last year, the best man got up and gave a short, sweet speech, then… crickets. No one from the bride’s side spoke and it was… awkward to stay the least.

  28. If a couple really wants toasts, then toasts there shall be. But if the couple doesn’t really care, maybe it’d be a good idea to ask the people who would traditionally toast (honor attendants) if they care either way.

  29. My in-laws were really adamant about a champagne toast, I didn’t really care either way and since they offered to pay for the extra champagne, we went ahead and said ok. We only had speeches from my MOH (my only sister) and Samm’s best man (one of his oldest friends). Both of them were absolutely horrified at the idea of public speaking and I’m sure they would have been thrilled not to do it. The Best Man’s speech was awkward but heartfelt, but my sister’s toast was so poignant and sweet that it had me in tears. It was one of my favorite moments of the entire wedding. So I gotta say, despite all the nerves, I’m really glad we had a toast.

  30. As a gossipy offbeat wedding vendor, I can say that in my experience in the East Coast market, toasts are still a thing, and people seem to like them. We still have lots of bouquet tossing and some garter retrieving too. Like all things wedding, the toasts can be amazing, awful or somewhere in between. One of the best I’ve ever seen was a bridesmaid who stood up and spoke the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Love Is All You Need,” complete with a deadpan “Doo doo doo doo” that brought the house down.

  31. As a wedding planner I’ve had my fair share of toasts really cause the timeline to be pushed way back. I recommend having the toasts after the cake cutting. After the bride and groom cut the cake the caterers can take it in the back and slice it while the toasts are going on. I find this to be very efficient.

  32. I think the key to good speeches/toasts is to A) NOT do open-mic, but hand pick people you trust to toast you, B) let them understand that this is totally optional and C) give them an outline to follow. Also, keep the number and time frame short . We did toasts, and had my dad, the best man and MOH speak. All together I think the toasts lasted about 15 minutes, and were right after dinner. Short, emotional, and well-timed. I’ve never experienced horrendous toasting first-hand, but if we had anyone in the line-up that we didn’t trust to keep it light and short, then we wouldn’t have had toasts at all!

  33. We had only two short toasts at our wedding (a group effort from both sides of the wedding party) and they were about 5 minutes each, not counting a less than a minute thank you to the guests on my part. They were memorable and awesome, and it’s the only time I shed a tear at the wedding (and I thought I was going to be a fountain!). It went over very well at our friends and close family-only reception. And I like hearing people talk about us. lol It might be a little selfish but I was very glad to hear what our friends had to say.

    I agree that the problem is that speeches aren’t often well done. They run long, use inside jokes only funny to two people or thrive on clichés. I say only do them if you’re confortable and the speakers are comfortable doing them.

    Another thing we did instead of opening up to floor to anyone for speeches was making it the “get the bride and groom to kiss” game. We told everyone they’d have to tell an anecdote about us, or at least one of us, instead of making noise with the glasses. It requires quite a lot of trust in your guests (and sometimes in your parents’ sense of humour), but it’s a lot of fun. Also, these anecdotes are usually kept short, since they happen during supper and everyone is keen on getting back to their plates.

  34. Great post! I agree with most of this in that toasts are really really hard to do well and really really easy to screw up – screw up meaning the bride and groom in their facilitation of them, the toast-giver, the vendor who has to work with the toast timing – it’s hard on everyone.

    We did have successful toasts at our wedding. We offered toast opportunities to our siblings (we knew our parents were too stressed out to be interested and our siblings would appreciate the honor because we weren’t doing formal bridesmaids/groomsmen). We told them to keep it short and be themselves, which was perfect guidance. We got a cute rhyming poem and presentation of an actual piece of toast! In terms of timing, our reception was a buffet which we opened during the first dance set and then we did the toasts after the people who were coming off the dance floor had an opportunity to take food. It was great because my husband had been really concerned about having an opportunity to eat food. The toasts were a perfect opportunity for him to eat, because no one was going to come over and congratulate us then, thereby interrupting the toasts.

  35. I love toasts. It is one of my most favorite parts of a wedding because (when done well) it reminds us of the reason that we are having an event. I have never been to a wedding where the toasts had a significant negative impact on the wedding. I saw some that ranged or weren’t amazing (and I have seen some go too long), but for the most part they really have been wonderful. One my most emotional moments with my fiance was when he gave a toast at his best friends wedding. It was amazing and showed me a part of my partner that I almost never see. We are just gonna be really structured and limit the toasts to 2-3 at the wedding and only for people who want to do it (we may do a couple others at the rehearsal dinner.)

  36. I was asked to give a toast at my brother’s wedding a couple of years ago. Almost all of the wedding party was too shy to speak in front of a crowd, a condition that I don’t suffer from. I gave a two minute at the longest speech that I had written beforehand and rehearsed well that included a quote that I felt really applied to my goofy brother and his wife. My mother read it beforehand in order to head off any awkwardness, and gave it the green light. The quote is now on the wall above their bed. They timed the speech just before the cake cutting at their outdoor reception, and I stood next to the cake table to speak; the speech was used to signal the cake being cut and then served. I guess my point is that if a toast is well thought out and timed well ( short and in a place that makes sense) they can be nice tributes to the couple. If people feel awkward about giving them, why force the issue? Totally a comfort level call.

  37. Why such a negative post? If toasts aren’t to your taste, fine, but it’s hard for me to imagine almost any other content on this blog with this kind of tone. (Imagine if you had a post about Tardis photo-booths / card boxes / save the dates written like this! Half the community would revolt).

    Anyway, hearing other peoples’ toasts is often one of my favorite parts of a wedding (when the toasts are well-done…) — they’re a chance to really stop and think about how amazing the people are who are getting married, and to recognize their quirks and hear funny and heartwarming stories that you might not know. A friend and I gave a joint toast at a dear friend’s rehearsal dinner last January, and I thought it was a huge honor and a really special moment to step back and reflect on 10 years of friendship.

    • Yea, I was surprised by the tone of the article too, especially the title. Can’t say I really remember any good or bad toasts from the few weddings I’ve been to. I think we’ll nix them, mostly because the crowd we’re inviting is not one for shows of sentiment.

    • Sometimes I like a good polemic. There used to be a lot more of them on the site, if you dig back in the archives.

      • But this isn’t constructively polemic. It’s judge-y and snarky and quite contrary to what I thought this site was about. There are a lot of other places on the internet I could visit to find deliberately combative and controversial headlines and arguments, but I come to OBB for positive discussion, ideas for what I *could* do (not for what I *shouldn’t* do), and, of course, great photos.

        • Offering alternatives for those who opt not to do toasts feels pretty constructive to me, but I totally respect that what feels like a playful polemic to us might not be a fit for every reader.

  38. When my best friend got married, I actually asked her if I could give a toast to the bride, and she seemed really happy. Sure, it was stressful writing it, but it was also an amazing way to carefully reflect on our entire friendship and choose parts that were funny and meaningful (both to us and hopefully the listeners) while at the same time welcoming her new husband~! There were about 5 speeches at her wedding – all were quite short and well thought out. The DJ
    (who gave my mom a ride home!) told my mom that the speeches were some of the best he’d ever seen at a wedding! I think the key is short and sweet, but also from your heart and personality. If you deliver something you are comfortable thinking and saying, it will be less nerve-wracking for you, and more enjoyable for everyone else.

    I kinda love toasts~!

  39. I literally JUST READ this part of the book.

    I have nothing to share except that.

  40. I almost got away with no toasts at my wedding but my FiL insisted on doing one – he was the Best Man and the reception was at his house so we couldn’t really say no.

    For a shy bride I think toasts are horrible. If you don’t like being the center of attention things like head tables and toasts can be a nightmare. Treat it like any other aspect of your wedding – if it doesn’t feel right or makes you uncomfortable then don’t do it!

    Maybe instead of having your family toast you, ask them to write letters that you and your partner can open and read on your anniversary as you eat stale freezer-burnt cake and remember how much love you felt on that day 🙂

  41. I’m really surprised to hear that people don’t like toasts, or even considered that people are asked to do them. Isn’t it weird to ask people to to say nice things about you. I always just prepare some brief remarks and toast people without being asked! Our wedding is in 10 days, and it’s a camping wedding and we’re having a campfire talent show, so we included toasts as an option for those guests who might like to participate but who aren’t musicians, dancers, poets. It’s actually one of the parts of my wedding I’m most looking forward to.

  42. I am part of an introverted couple, so I don’t even really want to have people look at us during the ceremony! Ha ha. But I’m mostly concerned that my dad is going to want to give a speech and it will be really awkward if I say I don’t want him to. I don’t know how to broach that without upsetting him – he is very sensitive! Plus, that whole pressure that he is paying for it… gah!!!

  43. We had a casual cocktail reception wedding and I wish we had skipped the toasts. My In-Laws don’t truly know me very well and it turned into a very specific list of things they thought they knew about me (for example I hate their cooking and am generally a picky eater so my husband jokingly told them once I don’t eat foods that touch. This tidbit made it into their toast and they believe it to this day). Then the best man made a toast up which ended with, and Jade you’re like the coolest girl I know. I, forgetting the generally older audience, replied, I try really hard actually (hilarious Juno reference) which almost no one got and turned into a silent awkward moment of pity. Also we had about 35 guests, no mic system, and you could clearly, rudely, hear my drunk obnoxious SIL talking loudly during my parents toast.
    So while I was previously very into people making public announcements of our awesomeness I would now fall into the death to toasts crowd.

  44. I’m a wedding photographer and I’ve been to many weddings where the speeches have taken FOREVER and it was clear that no one was really that interested in what was being said. However, I’ve been to one wedding where there were no speeches at all and I have to say that it felt like something was missing. And it’s not just because everyone else does them. A reception without speeches feels a little less warm. And even though I don’t know these people from a hill of beans, I sometimes laugh and cry during speeches when I’m working. I think that they do serve a purpose. They help guests get to know the couple better (because sometimes a guest only knows one half of the couple), and remind everybody of the awesomeness of the people getting married!

    I think that the important thing is to limit the length of speeches to under 2 minutes. It doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it’s usually more than enough.

  45. Perhaps the headline to this article should be edited? It seems that most commenters here have had pretty good experiences with wedding toasts! 🙂

    We had toasts at our wedding, but only two – from the best man and one of my bridesmaids. They were lovely. Both completely touching, personal, and funny without being a stand-up routine. And they were short! My husband and I knew they were going to happen in advance (we asked for them!), so there was no impromptu mic grabbing.

    Of the few weddings I’ve been to in my life, all of the toasts have been appropriate and sweet; no train-wrecks in my experience. One especially touching toast I witnessed was at my husband’s friend’s wedding. One of the bridesmaids gave her toast, and ended with a surprise lip synch to the Beatles “Penny Lane” (the bride’s name is Penny). Everyone grabbed inflatable instruments from under their tables and mimed playing them! It was super fun and personal, and definitely memorable!

    Granted, I absolutely think the folks getting married should have the final say in whether there should be toasts or not. People definitely have their own personal levels of introversion and/or tendencies towards embarrassment. But saying that toasts could die and no one would care? Well, I’d care. I like ’em!

  46. The toasts at my wedding went on for way too long and I’m sure many of my guests would say that some of them where train wrecks. BUT I don’t really care because they where all wonderful and touching to me. It meant so much to me to have so many people I loved all in one room and to have many of them get up and speak was amazing. I cherish those memories.

  47. I think, like anything you guys advocate, if toasts are important to the couple, they should do them! And if they aren’t, then can them.
    We will probably do something short, mainly to thank family and friends coming from interstate, and to thank everyone who helped out with stuff.

  48. I would like to echo one of the earlier comments and question the negativity in this post’s title. I’ve come to this website since I got engaged because of its acceptance of whatever the hell you want to do for your wedding — as long as it’s what you want — and I am very disappointed that suddenly snarking on a common wedding ritual is now acceptable. Haven’t there been multiple posts and discussions about NOT perpetuating the cycle of nastiness that keeps the WIC in control, anyway?

    As many people have said, toasts can be really awesome and touching when they are short, sweet, and relevant to the couple. And the people who give them while totally wasted, take forever, talk about exes, and share humiliating, inappropriate content? Those people are jerks. They aren’t jerks because they gave a toast, they’re just jerks. So maybe we just try to encourage people to not be jerks, or to reconsider who they ask to give toasts. And maybe some inward reflection is required of the Offbeat Editors (credited as the authors here).

    • As a vendor who contributed to this post (and probably spurred the whole thing–SORRY), I don’t think there’s really anything negative about stating the opinions and actual experience that we’ve had as vendors when it comes to toasts. I can tell you that for each of my 10 couples this past year, 7 of them wince at the whole toast thing. And this isn’t to say that HAYYY EVERYONE–STOP DOING THEM! We are just noticing a trend, much like the bouquet or garter toss have gone by the wayside.

      When you work 30 weddings in a season, it’s hard not to acknowledge the reality. When guests come up to you and ask “when are these over?” or look at you with an eye-roll, well, you can’t dismiss that when it happens, toasts can be a buzzkill sometimes….

      This past weekend, my team worked a 4-day wedding event that was simply fabulous. There were toasts at rehearsal dinner, the wedding party spoke during the ceremony & the dads gave toasts at the reception. All of these were so heart-felt, which is really what it’s all about. If it works for you and your fiance, family and friends, go for it! If it gives you apoplexy, do something else!

  49. My husband really didn’t like the idea of toasts because he really dislikes being the center of attention, so he inadvertently forgot to tell the Best Woman that was supposed to do one. However, my 10-year old niece surprised all of us by saying that she had a speech that she’d written that she wanted to deliver. So, after my Man of Honor’s awesome speech (and we forgot to tell people to get champagne to toast us when he was done), the Best Woman introduced my niece, she gave her speech, and I fucking BAWLED because it was that awesome.

    That’s a wedding memory that I am glad that I have, and might not have had if the Man of Honor didn’t speak first.

  50. I completely forgot about writing a toast until the day before my friends wedding, and I was MOH! Luckily, my FH had me covered. He suggested the Greek Myth about how humans were once symmetrical front to back and Zeus thought that made them too powerful, so he split humans in half, in that way making them have to search for their other half forever, and congrats to the bride and groom for finding their other half. It was short, sweet, and totally blew the best mans inside joke-laden speech out of the water!

  51. The toasts at my wedding were AMAZING. I definitely don’t think they’re required but in a group of talky people, it would’ve been weird not to have them. Here’s some tips…
    1) One toast per course. Tell the waitstaff ahead of time it’s fine to serve food during the toast. Have the MC tell the guests at the beginning of the meal that it’s fine to eat during the toast.
    2) Time limit. A million people have mentioned this, but it’s so necessary. No one can give a good ten-minute toast. 3-5 minutes max, and really only 5 if you’re a genius.
    3) Ask toasters in a general way ages in advance and see how they react. Tell the unenthusiastic not to worry about it.
    4) Only ask people who are genuinely good with words and reasonably comfortable public speakers. People might really truly love you, but standing at a mike saying that over and over is not great in front of a group. Maybe those people could do a reading at the ceremony? Or just love you from their chairs?
    5) Schedule the heavy drinkers to give the earlier toasts; the tee-totallers can go last.
    6) Blowhards, people harbouring issues about the happy couple, those who insist on gender essentialism, and lovers of mean jokes should not be asked to give toasts. Maybe they should not be invited to the wedding?
    7) The last toast should be during coffee, as the kickoff to the dancing. There should be no long gap where the food is all eaten and the toasts are still going strong.

    This worked out great for us, but I guest every wedding is different. But really, I was so honoured (and amused) by what everybody had to say–wouldn’t have missed those toasts for anything!

  52. I also would like to express my shock at the negative tone of this post. Reading it left me with the impression that you (the authors) think that people who choose to include toasts in their weddings are silly. I thought that offbeat bride was a place where people are free to choose what to include and exclude. I’m almost afraid to keep reading in case my favorite tradition is next.

    • I completely agree. I was shocked and quite frankly a bit disgruntled that this tradition was deemed “okay” to be so negative about in a website that prides itself on its positive atmosphere. I’m really disappointed.

  53. I dunno. I like toasts. I’m really looking forward to them at my wedding, actually. There’s something very ancient and mead-hall-y about a raucous wedding party peppered by heartfelt and vaguely inappropriate toasting and well-wishes from friends and family- to me, they’re one of the biggest reasons to HAVE a big “traditional” wedding, rather than eloping or going to city hall.

    Granted, A and I both do karaoke and open mic poetry. Our friends are spoken word performance artists, I’m also a tour guide- suffice to say that neither of *us* shy away from speaking in front of a crowd, most of our friends don’t either, and toasts are important to us.

    Again, for us, they’re the *reason* to have a big wedding. And toasts are one of the things that you, as a guest, should expect at a wedding. There’s going to be a ceremony and some speeches and if you’re lucky you’ll get decent food and some booze out of the deal for putting up with it if neither of those things are your shtick.

    I gave an impromptu speech at my friend Kim’s wedding and 4 years later she and her husband *still* lament that they don’t have it on video.

    I guess it depends on the couple. If toasts aren’t a big deal to you, don’t do them. But if they’re crucial to you, don’t let anyone talk you out of having them, either. O don’t care if they “interrupt the flow of the reception.” they are PART OF the “flow of the reception.” People gotta deal. 😉

  54. Is it bad that I jumped to the comments looking for juicy bad toast stories? Not sure if we’ll do them. I know my MOH/lil sis is terrified of speaking in front of crowds! Might just spare her the terror haha

    RE: people complaining about the “negativity” of the post, Offbeat articles like this are opinion pieces. A specific opinion namely. They are food for thought and not meant to encompass a consensus.

  55. I love toasts!!! I loved having them at my wedding, and love listening to them at other weddings.

    However, as a guest there are a few courtesies I appreciate when it comes to toasts. 1) toasts should generally be short (no more than 3 minutes) 2) the couple should only ask a handful of people to speak. How about no more than 6 or 7? Generally all toasts start sounding the same around this point 3) please, for the love of your guests no open mic! Even when there’s a supposed time limit on an open mic I’ve seen them get really rambling and awkward for everyone really fast.

    There are of course, exceptions to these requests , but in general I just don’t care what that tipsy uncle you’re not actually close to has to say about you. Giving a toast should be treated as an honor, instead of being doled out to every relative and wedding party member. I know it can be really hard to choose, but if you plan well everyone who you want to can have some sort of special designation bestowed upon them.

    Anyway, those are just my ideas, not hard and fast rules!

  56. Our toasts we excellent! We had a finger-foods cake and dancing reception so we did the first dance, then the toasts and then after the toasts everybody got cake! (Business first then dancing!) The toasts were given by: My Stepbrother (who knows us really well as a couple), His brother and sister/bestlady in tandem, My maid of honor/bestie, and my dad.

    We both have massive families (it was an intimate wedding of 120 guests) and they are pretty far flung so while our aunts/uncles/cousins know each of us well, they don’t really know the other one and many of them didn’t have any experience of us as a couple. My brother’s toast gave them some insight into our relationship and our wedding party and my dad’s toasts gave each family insight into what we were like as people/growing up. They were all really funny and sweet and we felt really loved and understood.

    I think it’s pretty key to pick who you have speak carefully. If your best man is a relative or has never met your family, maybe ask a long-time friend instead. The person should -want- to speak (I am speaking as a bridesmaid this weekend as a favour to the maid of honour who is sure she will just cry the whole time) – and it should be someone you trust to do it well (who needs that kind of anxiety!?).

  57. Erg. My boyfriend’s longtime friend got married last year and being the best man, was supposed to give a toast. He wrestled with it for a long time. We didn’t know or really like her, so how do you keep it from turning into “Here’s to you and the woman you’ve known for four weeks who’s trying to change every little thing about you”? He finally decided on “May the best of your past be the worst of your future.” But thankfully, during the reception, the maid of honor (bride’s sister) decided she didn’t want to give one so he didn’t have to either.

    I’ve been to 4 or 5 weddings and I don’t recall any of them having toasts. If they did, they weren’t very memorable.

  58. I got married last night, and I loved our toasts. We’d asked, in advance, the best man and the bridesmaids as a group to speak. The bridesmaids designated one girl. We told them short and sweet. They are trustworthy people who legitimately love us and would never think that taunting us or making fun of us in public would be appropriate. Our best man was clearly nervous, and had written his speech down on a crumpled piece of paper, and he had the best accidental comedic timing pulling it out of his pocket when he’d get a little lost. My bridesmaids wrote a beautiful little story about our life as a book with many chapters left to be filled. They were beautiful and I really think it gave everyone who didn’t know us as a couple a great chance to hear about our lives together.
    Long story short – toasts can be great if you state your expectations in advance, give notice to write a great speech, only choose people whose personalities match the type of speech you’d want to hear, and give an approximate time limit.

  59. I think a good way to do toasts is to make a short list of people who might expect to have to make a toast and people you would want to make a toast, and then ask them, in person, far in advance if they would want to. You could even phrase it like “We were considering not doing any toasts at all, but if you would want to do one, we’d love you to. Do you really want to?” That way there is no pressure, but you could get lovely toasts from people who are actually good at public speaking.

    I’m not actually engaged, haha, but I could only imagine my only living grandfather would be thrilled to toast me at my wedding, being a pretty conservative southern gentleman and all, and would do one well, while the bulk of my same-age friends would rather not. That way it is a more personal invitation to speak, but no one is forced into speaking.

  60. I don’t know. Maybe I’m an anomaly but I’ve never seen an “inappropriate” wedding toast at any wedding in real time. I’ve only seen them on the romantic comedy movies. Toasts, congratulatory speeches and well wishes are positive things, and they don’t have to be embarrassing to anyone. A possible solution? Maybe have the toasts videotaped at the wedding in say a booth or just outside the church or something, and then present the DVD to the bride and groom so can watch them at a later time away from the crowds or they can put on youtube if they want?

  61. I myself come from a large family (by large I mean 9 aunts and uncles on one side of the family and 3 aunts/uncles on the other, the groom has a smaller clan) and we both have divorced parents adding to the numbers of family units, and its commonplace and expected toasts are going to happen (usually by the same folks: uncles, dads, moms, matriarch and patriarch of the family and maybe the occasional aunt or cousin or sibling). its a tradition in our family and sometimes executed very well and fun depending on the event it relates to. Normally they occur right as people are beginning to eat so they don’t have to put the fork down. The only time it would be a toast before anyone eats scenario is when its a small dinner party. Were having an open buffet at our wedding and figure once everyone has been seated we could do some kind of opt in time limit speech/toast schedule (probably a sign up sheet on the day of with order of appearance so its 100% volunteer, of course advance notice on the wedsite about how much time is available per person) while folks are beginning to eat their food. That way no one will have to wait to eat, there will be a limit on how long someone can ramble on or tell stories and folks will no when. Since we wont worry about servers or vendor schedule with a buffet (other than food being plopped down for folks to grab a plate and go) it wouldn’t interfere with toasts or speeches, should anyone want to do them. We’re just figuring on how many and for how long each speech should go at the maximum to be fair. I can envision anywhere from 10-15 speeches/toasts happening at our reception so we definitely don’t want any long winded speeches that’s for sure. No one wants to sit through an hour of speeches after all, right?

    I personally don’t object to speeches, but do worry about what will be said and the appropriate-ness of the content. After all I really don’t need my entire family hearing about my bedroom sleeping habits, or that time when I was five and naked in my moms pottery studio playing in a kiddie pool in the dead of summer or really anything embarrassing about either myself or the FH personally. I’d rather it be relevant to our relationship as a couple or about unifying a family because that’s what we are there for after all.

  62. I’m on the fence about toasts. I’ve been to a number of weddings and they’ve been a mixed bag in terms of success. I’m considering telling the “key” people they are off the hook, but am worried they might be offended and think the issue is that I don’t want them to speak when really it’s that I don’t want them to feel pressure. Ideas?

  63. BOOOOOOO! I LOVED the toasts at our wedding – they were short, funny, and very very meaningful. I think the guests enjoyed them too, but even if they didn’t, I don’t give a rat’s ass.

  64. I solved the problem by asking my 6-year-old bridesmaid to do our only speech. It worked out perfectly.

  65. Realise I’m coming late to this but in Britain traditionally toasts are limited anyway. We usually have 3 toasts – the groom starts by thanking all the guests and especially the bridal party (this is often when flowers are given to mums etc). The groom also remembers any people who couldn’t be with us before thanking the bride. Then it’s the turn of the father of the bride – he usually rambles on about the bride and says how nice her new husband is. Finally the best man does his best to make everyone laugh and embarrass the groom before wishing the couple well. Other guests don’t really get to make toasts at all. I’ve been to a wedding where the brides grandad gave a toast and it was awkward and repetitive (also probably cos her dad’s toast was terrible – learnt what grades she had got in school! Why her wedding was the time to discuss this I honestly don’t know). The best speeches and toasts are a thank you to everyone who worked hard to make the wedding happen as well as a celebration of the couple. And they shouldn’t be over 3 mins per person!

  66. As an industry professional for two decades I find this post to be really depressing. The toasts are the most human and “real” moments of the wedding day, and something I actually look forward to hearing every single time. They are more often than not actually meaningful and well done. But really, it is okay that no one knows what to do, and stumble through, and try to make jokes that are not funny or are embarrassing. The position of this post seems to advocate avoiding the toast because it might cause embarrassment, boredom or something negative. This attitude is depressing to me because if you avoid living any unscripted moments of your life because you are afraid of something negative happening, then you also miss out on experiencing amazing surprises and learning something new or unexpected about yourself or someone else. In 20 years I’ve seen spectacular life moments happen during wedding toasts and speeches. Couples hear amazing things come out of their parents mouths during toasts that in that very instant changed their perspective of their parents from a child’s eyes to an adult’s eyes and the amazing realization of really who your parents are as human beings beyond your childhood caregiver. Sure, best men and maid of honor can say embarrassing things, but they can also paint a picture of the couple that many people don’t get a chance to really know as a distant relative, friend or even close family member who is just starting to understand who you are as an adult. Also, many people in the room have experienced this beautifully awkward moment before, one way or another, and is a collective shared experience many people have to be “roasted” or embarrassed. It reminds us all to not take ourselves so seriously and be able to laugh at ourselves. The rest of the wedding day is typically so planned and prepared. I always look forward to the toasts because they are moments of genuine life happening in the moment. I realize OBB is here generally to help couples understand that there really are no more “rules” for weddings anymore, so if you don’t want to incorporate certain traditions that is fine. But sometimes I think post like this go too far in the other direction, and have an unintended negative message, and are short-sighted only looking at the surface of common complaints. Some wedding industry folks can get burnt out and cynical about their jobs, so they may not always the best sources of perspective. Especially for stuff like this when most do not become emotionally attached to the events they work at and are often going through routines of performing similar tasks from one event to the next. Speeches that go on too long, okay yes, that is a universal legitimate complaint for both workers and guests alike, but avoiding feeling emotions is not really a good reason to avoid this tradition in my opinion. Yes, toasts can be uncomfortable and unpredictable, but life is so much more exciting when you don’t hide or protect yourself from experiencing all of the crazy emotions and experiences that make it worth living.

  67. I haven’t read all the comments, so forgive me if anything I say is repetitive. I have the perspective of giving the toast as a Best Man as well as “receiving” the toasts as a bride.

    My father asked me to be the Best Man at his wedding. I started off my toast by introducing myself as his daughter (for those who didn’t know me) and telling the guests that I had no experience as a Best Man, so I searched the Internet for advice. This got a laugh. Then I said, “One of the suggestions was to talk about how you met the groom. When I first met him, I started screaming.” That pretty much brought the house down. 🙂

    So my advice if you are asked to give a toast: go ahead and do a little research. Write out what you’re going to say, and practice it, like you would for any other public speaking engagement. Put it on index cards, but don’t just read them without looking up. Keep one thought to a card so there’s a natural pause while you switch cards (during mine, there was either laughter or a D’awww moment between each card, making it very easy to switch while the “audience” was responding). Unless you are really good at winging it, DON’T. Go for a bit of humor and a bit of mush, but don’t overdo either.

    My own wedding was a very laid back event, and we did the toasts after all the guests had had their chance to get through the buffet line. We asked our two Best Men and my Maid of Honor to each do a toast, then let the rest of the wedding party and our parents know that they could give one if they wanted to. My Bridesmaid wrote and read a poem, and our DJ (a friend) decided to read another poem. This is a great idea if you’re having trouble coming up with a “speech” for your toast, just find or write a poem or a passage from a book that is meaningful to you and the couple.

    My husband and I both had rather embarrassing moments upon meeting our respective Best Men, so the “talk about how you first met” advice could have gone horribly wrong. My husband’s was kind of funny: he stopped in mid-conversation to check out a girl, who turned out to be his Best Man’s wife. Now, this story was made slightly more awkward by the fact that she is now his ex-wife and he had remarried (my Bridesmaid), but was nicely covered by him saying my husband’s taste had since improved and my husband calling out, “As has yours!” It was fairly obvious that he had planned out what he wanted to say and is a natural public speaker. If you can ask people who are comfortable with public speaking to do your toasts, I highly recommend it.

    My Best Man hadn’t really prepared anything, so he rambled a bit and some of the ways he phrased things were rather awkward, but I knew what he meant and wasn’t offended (I later learned my father was a bit upset but he let it go). Guests who didn’t know the context were likely fairly confused when he mentioned how people had told him I was “bad news” but he was glad he didn’t listen to them – this was a reference to the online community where we had first met, which had decided to make me a scapegoat while I didn’t have Internet access to defend myself. Overall, his words were very sweet, but he was definitely talking to only me and my husband. So again, I advise planning out what you want to say for the toast, and add a reminder to think of the “audience” you’re speaking to. It’s probably best to avoid “in-jokes” and extremely personal references that most of the guests won’t understand.

    My Maid of Honor surprised me by having the DJ play a pre-recorded message. It was a dedication to me that talked about how we first met and how our friendship had developed. It had been done for a dedication show on the online radio station through which she, my husband, and I all met (we’re all DJs). Having it repurposed for the wedding was perfect! And I think this is a fantastic way to deal with the toasts and wish I had thought of it before the wedding. By having the toasts pre-recorded, no one is put on the spot, they have a chance to really figure out what they want to say and if they “mess up” they can just edit the audio file or record it again. The toasts can be played at a convenient time without everyone having to stop and stare at the person speaking (awesome for introverts!). You could have them play one after the other while people are eating, or space them out between songs throughout the reception. You might want to have one good public speaker get up and explain what’s going to happen before you start them, or put a blurb in your program so people know what to expect.

    And of course, if you don’t want to do toasts, DON’T. It’s your wedding, there really isn’t much that you HAVE to do, despite what the etiquette books say.

  68. Thank you for this article! I have been worried about toasting during my reception because my fiancée’s mother LOVES to talk about his exs. Which is highly inappropriate in the first place, but I’ve been nervous about the possibility of her saying something in a toast that would upset me (intentional or not). I think I will exclude toasts all together. We will thank our guests for coming, name and thank the bridal party and our padrinos, and leave it at that!

  69. I realize this topic may be a bit dead, but its perfectly linked to an issue my partner and i are facing, which is we do not want his family to give toasts. Even without that, i probably wouldn’t want to, just because of who i am, but my partner and his sister both told me about how her (the sister’s) wedding was hijacked by long, unplanned and unwanted speeches from their father and other sister. We definitely want to avoid that, and have planned to make it clear to our guests that we don’t want or expect toasts or speeches at any point, but from what i know of my future FIL, he’ll probably want to try anyways.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to politely yet firmly make it clear we DO NOT want your toasts or speeches? I liked the idea of the confessional booth or having a place for people to submit videos of their toasts, which may head off some awkward moments.

  70. I think toasts are awesome when done right (short, sweet, and supportive). I looked forward to the toasts at my wedding, but honestly I was disappointed and hurt. One of my parents was the only person who complimented us, or really said anything nice. At a sibling-in-law’s wedding, one of my partner’s parents went on and on about how great each of them were–just an absolutely glowing ode. At our wedding, their meandering speech was about building a life together. It was the type of speech delivered to employees forced to sit through an “inspirational” talk delivered by an out-of-touch upper manager.

    I am not a shitty person. All I wanted after a difficult and often contentious planning process was to be doted on a little. Shit, even a mentioning how good I am with animals would have felt great.

    This post is old and this comment is mostly just a way for me to vent, but if you’re reading this and ever give a speech, please compliment the couple both as individuals and as a unit. If you’re giving a speech, you’re likely considered a loved one. So on their special day, make sure you recognize why you love them.

  71. We had a small wedding (less than 50 guests), and we actually did an open mic following dinner and allowed anyone who wanted to say something come up. It was one of my absolute favorite parts of the wedding. Getting to hear stories from our closest friends and family, about why they loved us and were happy for us, was incredible. No one “had to” say anything, so no anxiety for speakers, and once they got rolling more people felt comfortable. It was the sweetest and funniest and most heart-warming part of the day. The best part is a few friends recorded every single one, so it’s something we can look back on forever.

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