Lindy Cooke Celebrant wedding flowers, exchanging rings, ceremonies

Toasts ~ A quick guide

The who, what & when …

A special occasion often calls for one or more toasts to be made. This allows those who have played a key role in the event to be publicly acknowledged and thanked. At a wedding, there are several toasts which are traditionally made but, like many things, these have changed over time and there are no hard and fast rules about which ones to include. As a guide, work on each speech being somewhere between 3-5 minutes in length.

♥  The first toast is normally to the bride and is made by the best man

He will usually compliment the bride on her appearance and wish her health and future happiness.

♥  The father (or mother) of the bride offers the second toast

This will, ideally, start with some memories of the bride as she was growing up, a genuine welcome to his/her new son-in-law and his/her parents on becoming part of the family and include a thank you to the guests for attending, in particular those who have travelled a long distance to be part of the day. This is a good time to mention anyone special who was unable to attend e.g. due to illness.

♥  The father (or mother) of the groom offers the third toast

This is directed to the bridal party, the guests and his/her son’s new in-laws. He/she would normally make similar comments about welcoming his/her new daughter-in-law and her parents as part of the family.

 ♥  The groom then offers the next toast

This would normally include a sincere thanks to the bride’s parents for bringing up such a beautiful daughter and for welcoming him into their family. He thanks his own parents for their support of him and lastly lets his bride know that he is so proud and happy that she agreed to be his wife. He can include an anecdote here, if he wishes, about their courtship or when he asked her to marry him etc. He may also toast his grandparents, the guests and the bridal party, including thanking anyone who performed a special task during the ceremony or at the reception.

♥  The bride, if she wishes, can respond

Her toast would normally be to her new husband (if he has toasted her first), her parents and her new in-laws. She may also toast her grandparents, the guests and the bridal party.

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You can choose to make individual toasts between courses at the reception but they are often made after the meal has been served and before the wedding cake is cut. Usually an MC will have been appointed and s/he will have been provided with a running sheet detailing when the speeches should be announced. The MC will need to liaise with the DJ or whoever is looking after the music at the reception so that the volume of the music is turned down at the appropriate time/s.

If it is your responsibility to give a toast, it is important to think about what you’d like to say at least a week or two before the event, more if you are nervous, and make some notes and then tweak them until you’re satisfied they read well. For speeches to be well received, they should be practised beforehand and include no coarse language or embarrassing anecdotes. If you have a funny story to tell and you think it will be appreciated by the bridal party and their guests, by all means tell it. Remember, though, it is preferable to speak for only a minute or two and hold everyone’s attention than expect to do so without rehearsing what it is that you’ll say.

Speaking in public can be a little nerve-wracking for some people but it’s never a good idea to drink before giving a speech in an effort to settle your nerves. It will have the opposite effect and impair your judgement. Also, unless you’re very familiar with giving speeches, it’s a good idea to have some cards with you with your key points noted so that you are reminded about what you should say. Alternatively, you may prefer to have your whole speech written down so that you can read it out at the appropriate time. This will give you confidence and something to do with your hands. If you are reading out the whole speech, a good tip is to have each page laminated so that you’re not fiddling with a crumpled piece of paper which will distract attention from what you’re saying.

Always stand to give a speech and make eye contact with the person/s you are toasting. If there is a microphone, position it just below your chin. Speak clearly and with authority and remember to stick to your plan.

If you follow these steps, the speeches should be a fun part of the event and not cause the audience to squirm in their seats.

011 – 30/11/2014

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