Toasts: the whys and wherefores

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Here’s some background info on what toasts are for, and the dos and don’ts of rehearsal dinner toasts

No wedding would be complete without a toast to the bride and groom, accompanied by a cool sip of bubbly. And today you’re likely to be asked to charge your glasses and join in with several other toasts given to and from various members of the wedding party.

Today’s increasingly sophisticated wedding speeches have evolved from traditional toasts where guests drank the health of the newly weds. And though toasts are now often only one element of a larger speech, they still play an important role.

At larger, more formal occasions they provide a natural break in proceedings that everyone can recognise. And at smaller, more informal weddings a beautiful sentiment expressed in a simple toast can be as emotionally charged as a full‐on speech.

What are toasts for?

Sincerity and practicality are the keys to a successful toast. A toast that comes from the heart will only add to the emotion of an already highly emotional day.

But toasts are of practical value too. They can help punctuate a day that is always hectic and complicated, by alerting guests to the end of speeches, and to the transition from one part of the wedding day to the next.

Toasts should have a clear purpose, whether it’s simply to salute the bride and groom (usually the job of the best man), or to honour friends and family who couldn’t make it and/or who have passed away.

Toasts can serve as a natural break in the proceedings if ‐ as is often the case with the best man’s speech ‐ you have gone through a long list of thank‐yous or other messages. And they’re a quick and easy way to express additional thanks to specific members of the wedding party, such as the mothers of bride and groom. If you are presenting gifts during a toast, eg to the mothers or bridesmaids, make sure you leave time for the exchange to be made.

Toasting at a rehearsal dinner

Toasts come into their own in the increasingly popular custom of rehearsal dinners. Usually, a few days before the wedding the key players will get together to rehearse the ceremony. This enables the main participants to know what to expect on the day.

In America ‐ and increasingly in the UK ‐ this rehearsal may be followed with a dinner attended by both sets of parents, close friends and anyone who has flown in from afar for the wedding. Very often it’s the first time that everyone sitting around the table has been together in years, and it gives the two families a chance to get better acquainted.

During the meal, some or all of those present may be called upon to give a toast.

If you’re asked, you may want to share a memory about the bride and groom or you may want to say something more general about love and marriage.

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