How to have unique wedding toasts that aren’t sexist

Guest post by Minna Kelly
Sword fights & purple kilts at this dance party wedding with an Oreo toast
Photos by Aarography from this wedding where the toasts were done with oreos!

In the UK, wedding toasts are traditionally given between the dinner and the cake cutting. The speeches are traditionally given by the groom (occasionally replaced by the father of the groom), the best man, and the father of the bride.

The wedding toasts typically go like this:

  • The groom's speech is typically short: “thank you for coming, I'm so lucky”
  • Father of the Bride's is sincere: “thank you for coming, I'm so proud”
  • The best man's is fifteen minutes of sarcasm and embarrassing stories, usually with a slideshow: “Thank you for the booze, I'm so funny and has anyone here not seen the groom naked yet, because you're about to!!”

I really dislike that it's an all-male lineup, and that it's so focused on giving away and receiving the bride. However, there's a definite advantage to the fact it's limited to so few people, and you've really only got one wildcard on the sexism front… who'll probably be bugging people for embarrassing pics of the groom, so you can get them to pass the no-ball-and-chain rule on fairly easily.

It's hard to get more women in there because you end up adding to the number of speeches, and after about 30 minutes of dutifully clinking champagne glasses, guests start to get bored.

How to have a more unique feel to your wedding toasts, and hopefully less sexism, too:

  1. If you can do so without giving offense, rather than adding to to the traditional line-up, try substitute people
  2. Ask folks to give speeches in pairs.
  3. Whatever you do, keep the number and length of the speeches short — no more than 20 minutes total!
  4. If people want to go funny, remind them to keep it personal — not jokes they found on the internet!
  5. Alternately, ask each person to do something other than speeches entirely — my stepdad is a folk singer, so I asked him for a song rather than a speech!

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Comments on How to have unique wedding toasts that aren’t sexist

  1. Hmmm.. that’s interesting.
    In the US the only convention I’m aware of is best man and maid of honor do speeches/toasts. I can only think of one wedding I’ve attended when any one else stood up to speak and that was the bride’s siblings. And I have never ever heard either the bride or groom give a speech or a toast. In fact, I would describe the overall mindset to be anti-toast. Most people I know regard it as a chore you might be required to do if you’re the best man or maid of honor.

    But then again half of weddings I’ve attended were also paid for by the couple themselves. Maybe that had something to do with it? Or maybe it’s a regional thing?

  2. As planners in the US, we’ve seen our fair share of toast and always recommend to our clients to get their “line up” set prior to the wedding . Unless of course theres a surprise reading of some sort from someone, but it dosnt happen very often as most try to stay away from having to get up in front of a bunch a people and speak (Shivering at the very thought!). Most commonly theres a VERY short welcome toast by either the couple or parents of the couple and than speech by MOH & BM . If more than we recommend capping it at 5 ppl max. It can get boring for the guests.

  3. I’ve never heard of just the males involved giving toasts. At my first wedding, we let the best man and maid of honor give toasts and then passed the mic around.

    The only awkward part was my mom angrily trying to force my dad to make a toast (they are divorced) but everyone already expected crazy shenanigans from her.

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