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A Few Words about Wedding Toasts

Traditionally, the reception includes three speeches: father of the bride, groom and best man (in that order). Each of these speakers concludes his speech with a suitable toast:

  • The father of the bride ends his speech with a toast to the bride and groom.

  • The groom may decide to toast his new wife in the middle of his speech while telling guests he feels so lucky to have her as a wife. He ends his speech with a toast to the bridesmaids.

  • The best man toasts anyone specifically requested by the bride and groom; for example, ‘absent friends’.

  • If the bride decides she wants to get up and say a few words then she may end her speech by toasting her new husband or her parents.

If you decide not to have the speeches after the meal but instead after guests have sat down to dinner, make sure your caterer is aware because this affects the service of the food. Staff need to go around handing bubbly to guests ready for the toasts. An alternative is to have staff topping up reception glasses as guests enter for dinner.

To make the toasts run smoothly:

  • Nominate a guest to act as master of ceremonies. You want someone who’s witty, wise and capable of gently giving long-winded toast-makers the hook. Having a stentorian voice doesn’t hurt either, because it eliminates the need for a drum roll, strobe light or puff of smoke to command people’s attention.

    If you don’t assign this role, the job falls to the wedding co-ordinator, who may not strike the tone you want. Some couples act as their own emcees, introducing each speaker with an apropos comment to create a personalised, intimate mood.

  • Give toasts facing the crowd. Few situations are more embarrassing than watching the bride’s father deliver an obviously heartfelt toast and blotting his copious tears with his handkerchief as all the guests mouth to each other, ‘What did he say?’

    A wireless hand-held microphone is a wonderful invention. Most people are more relaxed holding something and the toasts come off less stilted if the emcee hands the mic to the toaster, who can then stand naturally while speaking.

According to the rules of polite society, during toasts at formal gatherings, everyone should rise but the recipients. Due to the plethora of toasts at a wedding, however, making guests jump to their feet every time someone raises a glass is ludicrous. Tradition also holds that drinking to yourself is gauche, akin to applauding yourself. If you want to follow the well-mannered path, refrain from taking a sip when people toast you.

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