Toasting the couple is one of the longstanding traditions at American weddings. Toasts often take place at the engagement party, rehearsal dinner, and the wedding reception.
The Engagement Party
The first toast is made by the father of the bride in the form of an announcement of the engagement. This typically occurs midway through the party once all of the guests have arrived and had a chance to mingle. If the groom’s parents are present, a toast from his father is also a nice touch but not necessary. The couple themselves may also wish to raise a glass to their hosts, the future in-laws, or their guests.
The Rehearsal Dinner
The first toast is by the host of the rehearsal dinner, usually the groom’s father. It often occurs toward the end of the main course and is frequently met by a return toast from the father of the bride. The host may ask others in the bridal party ahead of time to make a toast, or open it up after they toast. Unlike the wedding reception, these toasts allow for a little more time where stories are welcome. After the toasts of family and friends are completed, the couple is to thank their parents and wedding party. This is a time for them to show their appreciation.
The Wedding Reception
Kicked off by the best man, this toast is the most formal of all wedding toasts. It generally occurs when guests sit down for dinner and are provided a glass of champagne or at the end of the main course. This toast should be no more than two minutes or so.
Following the best man is the maid of honor, the host of the event (often the father of the bride), and ending with the couple.
When the toast is over, raise your glass toward the couple, and lead the guests in taking a sip.
Keep your toast to one to five minutes. Most toasts should stick around the two minute mark unless you’re a regular public speaker.
As you’re writing your toast, keep in mind the purpose is to toast the newlyweds. Compliment the couple and wish them well in their new marriage together.
At the beginning of the toast, introduce yourself to the room and share how you know the happy couple. Speak to both the bride and groom, even if you know one more than the other. Consider highlighting one or two character traits about the couple and sharing a story to illustrate the trait. If you choose to reference an inside joke, invite the audience into the joke by sharing some back story. Also consider sharing a moment when the couple knew they were meant to last forever, or a moment when you saw your friend found “the one.”
Be genuine, kind and sincere. Please refrain from mentioning any past relationships or hurtful embarrassing stories. Comic relief is great, but keep it appropriate for your audience.
Practice. There are few public speakers that don’t have their outline mapped out beforehand. Practice holding a mic, looking at the couple and the audience, and smiling.