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Cheers to the Bride and Groom!

Jean Hailey


After the bride and groom say I do, there will be countless speeches during the wedding celebration. Toasts and speeches are an important part of “the big event.” It provides the best man, maid of honor, parents of the bride and groom and anyone else that feels moved to speak the opportunity to express their feelings about both the bride and groom. The style of your wedding will delegate the ideal time for the toast, whether your reception is a cocktail or buffet-style reception, your guests may not all be gathered at the same place and time to listen to toasts. As an alternative option, you could include a formal wedding toast during the rehearsal dinner instead. Traditionally, at the formal seated dinner, the father of the bride toasts to begin the meal. The bride’s father delivers the first speech. He traditionally welcomes the guests and expresses his affection for his daughter. Some fathers of the brides describe entertaining tales from his daughter’s childhood. He also welcomes the groom into the family, and proposes a toast to the happy couple. The groom responds. He thanks the bride’s parents for the wedding, and his own parents for their love and support. Before thanking his best man, the ushers and the bridesmaids, he is free to talk about and praise his new bride.

The best man traditionally responds on behalf of the bridesmaids. He thanks the groom for selecting him as the best man and speaks about their friendship. The best man then reads the best wishes and notes sent by relatives and friends that could not attend the wedding.

You might follow this order for the rehearsal dinner:

• The best man toasts the bride

• The bride toasts the groom

• The groom toasts the bride’s mother

• The bride’s father may toast the groom’s parents

You might follow this order for the reception:

• The best man toasts the bride and groom

• The groom toasts the bride and her family

• The two fathers toast the bride and groom

• The bride and groom toast each other

However, tradition can always be put aside in the interest of creating a relaxed happy event that is unique to each individual wedding. It is now appropriate, for the bride, mother of the bride, or maid of honor to share their thoughts with a toast of their own. When a toast is given, all should rise for the toasts to the new couple except the bride and groom. When someone toasts the happy couple, they should smile and say thank you; they should never clap or drink to themselves. If the toast is for the bride, the groom should rise, and if the toast is for the parents, both the bride and groom should rise. As the bride and groom openly thank their families and friends, they should never speak in unison, but should stand together while one speaks or take turns speaking. When preparing your speech, remember that wedding toasts should be fun and lighthearted.

All speakers should begin their toasts by introducing themselves. Not everyone in the room will know who you are. They should mention both the bride and the groom, even if they only know one or the other.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for speakers to keep in mind when it comes time for them to express their thoughts.

• Do – speak from one to four minutes. Make a short heart-felt, sincere toast to the lucky couple and sit down. Keep it simple.

• Do – give some advice. It’s customary for someone to give the newlyweds some advice. The most common is anything on marriage. A common advice is to resolve your argument before you both go to sleep.

• Do – Stand tall and enunciate each word. Look your audience in the eye.

• Do – Use an icebreaker as the first line. It will guarantee a laugh.

• Do – practice, practice, practice. Ad-libbing is a bad idea especially for wedding toasts.

• Do – share some personal history. Tell about the connection between you and the bride or groom, and why giving this toasts is so meaningful to you. People like to hear stories about other people. Go over the significant milestones, if you are familiar with them, that would include the schools they attended, the jobs they had or the hobbies they are in to.

• Do – always use humor in good taste. An amusing anecdote or two works well, but lengthy storytelling makes you hard to follow. Any occasion is fun if humor is part of it. If you can make people laugh with a funny story, everyone will have a good time.

• Do – Say something about the person that no one knows. Everyone loves secrets. For example tell the guests that the bride had to take her drivers test three times, or that the groom had a crush on his best friend’s mom.

• Do – be organized, interesting, and entertaining.

• Do – use etiquette and thank the right people for all the help they have given.

• Do – Make sure all glasses are full before beginning the toasts.

• Do – Stand to give a speech, sit to receive one. Hold your glass with your right hand as you toast. After the toast, it is tradition to then clink the glasses together before sipping.

• Do – Give equal time to both the bride and groom.

• Do – Look around at the audience and to the bride and groom as you toast. Eye contact is important.

• Do – speak clearly, take your time and do not rush.

• Do – If you get an unexpected laugh, laugh back and keep giving your speech.

• Do – Raise you glass and finish you toast with good wishes, blessing, congratulations, or “cheers.” Don’t forget to drink to your own toast!

• Do – If the spotlight is on you and your knees begin to shake and you can’t remember what you were supposed to say, use the old standby, “”I’m so happy that you found one another. Cheers!”  Or, “I’m looking forward to the day that we can celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary!” “Salute” It works every time.

• Don’t – Drink more than one drink before you begin your speech. You will want to speak clearly and remember exactly what you said the next day, and alcohol might get in the way of your good judgment.

• Don’t – Swear, tell off colored jokes, or inside jokes that only a few will understand. Do not embarrass anyone. Keep it natural and upbeat.

• Don’t – Apologize for being a bad speaker, or indicate that you really didn’t want to speak. This is a good rule for all speeches on all occasions, not just weddings.

• Don’t – speak by reading from a card; it seems so insincere and awkward.

• Don’t – Bring up previous girlfriends, past marriages, or past relationships. This is very inappropriate at a wedding. Save that for the bachelor party.

• Don’t – Tell stories about the bride and groom that are rated “R.” Remember that elderly people and small children will be present at the wedding.

• Don’t – steal the spotlight. The toast is not about you, but about the subjects of your toast.

• Don’t – rush through your speech because of nervousness. Take your time.

• Don’t – Make a long boring speech, and don’t get carried away. Less is better. No one wants to listen to a particularly long speech. Here are some great famous toasts that you might want to incorporate in your wedding speech.

“Grow old with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life,

For which, the first is made.”

–Robert Browning


“I drink to the general joy  of the whole table.”

–William Shakespeare, from Macbeth


“To every lovely lady bright,

I wish a gallant faithful knight;

To every faithful lover, too,

I wish a trusting lady true.”

–Sir Walter Scott


“Tis better to have loved and lost

than to never have loved at all”

–Alfred, Lord Tennyson

If the thought of giving a wedding toast, or speech makes your knees shake and your stomach quiver, use the above help, search online for wedding speeches and toast, or check the local bookstore for extra help. Raise your glass, and toasts the happy couple, but remember, speak from the heart, and speak sincerely about the people you love. Your audience will be captivated by your passion. Cheers!

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