Being a gracious host is a big part of planning a wedding. Though it is your day, the people whom you chose to invite are your guests and should be thought of during the planning and on the day of your wedding.
Wedding Toast Etiquette
You’re planning the reception but don’t know anything about wedding toast etiquette and helping people assemble appropriate toasts. Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Many people have no concept of how much wedding etiquette exists and the toast is only one small part of a much larger picture.
First, it helps to know the traditional order of toasts. Usually, the father of the bride or an elder family member presents the first toast to the bride and groom. There’s a short speech first, most often a story about the bride, followed by giving respects to the groom, then a request for everyone to raise glasses to the bride and groom. Sounds simple enough, but it can feel incredibly daunting particularly for someone uncomfortable with public speaking.
Information is Power
It’s important to be as informative as possible when telling your guests about your upcoming nuptials. Save the Date cards, invitations, and wedding websites are the best ways to inform your guests as a collective. Websites such as The Knot offer free hosting for wedding websites where you can provide guests with information on hotels, things to do in your city, driving directions, specific attire concerns, and more. If your location is new or particularly obscure, a direction card on how to get there should also be included in your invitations. Most importantly, your invitations should indicate the formality of the ceremony and reception and should be sent out within 6-8 weeks of your wedding date.
Today, it’s not uncommon for a couple to have multiple wedding showers prior to getting married. Promptness in sending out thank you notes is greatly appreciated by everyone and it will save you from doing them all at once post-wedding. Designate one person per shower to write down who gave you what to insure personalized thank you cards and they should be in the mail within 10 days of your shower. Don’t forget, send a thank you note to the people who threw you the shower, even if they don’t give you a gift. As for guests who bring gifts to the ceremony, those thank you cards should be received two weeks after you return from the honeymoon.
Food for Thought
Receptions come in all shapes and sizes these days, particularly when it comes to food. The time of your ceremony generally indicates what type of food will be served- if your reception is at dinner time, it’s time to feed your guests dinner. Afternoon or very late evening receptions, however, have more flexibility. If you decide to serve a full meal, be mindful of your guests. If you’re a die-hard vegan, ask the caterers for a vegan plate for you but otherwise, plan your menu for the masses. Particularly in the south, most guests won’t understand what a non-dairy dinner entails and will likely leave your reception hungry and confused.
Some thoughts to keep in mind when planning this toast include keeping the story relatively brief. People are here to enjoy the reception, not an hour-long discourse, no matter how interesting or relative it may be to the moment. Hint: people checking their watches means you’ve gone on too long. Additionally, avoid tales of old boyfriends or previous marriages. These can prove to be sore spots that spoil the celebratory atmosphere. Other no-no’s include off-color humor or colorful language.
Drinks Are On the House
Imagine if a friend or family member invited you over for a gathering of any kind and then asked that you pay them for your glass of wine. Having a cash bar at a wedding is essentially the same concept. Of course, not everyone wants to or can afford an open bar of every drink imaginable but there are creative options to keep everyone happy. If it’s a conservative reception or a need to cut costs, just serve everyone a glass of champagne for a toast. Another option is to eliminate liquor and simply serve wine and beer; having one white wine, one red wine and your favorite brew is a completely appropriate way to celebrate at your reception without breaking the bank.
Keep these little things in mind and also that, while it’s a day for you and your new spouse, it’s also polite and expected to remember the guests with whom you’ve decided to celebrate this amazing occasion.
The groom gives the second toast, preceded by a speech thanking both families and honoring the bride’s father if present. This is an opportunity for the groom to give thanks to the best man and to all guests present. Finally, he toasts the bridesmaids. The third toast comes from the best man who may also say a few words about the groom, and something complimentary about the bride. It’s the best man’s job to convey any well-wishes from people who could not make the wedding. Toasts that come after this point are voluntary from guests.
The third toast comes from the best man who may also say a few words about the groom, and something complimentary about the bride. It’s the best man’s job to convey any well-wishes from people who could not make the wedding. Toasts that come after this point are voluntary from guests.
For individuals who have no idea of how to put together their speech and toast, wedding toast etiquette gives some great advice: give yourself time to think about it and practice beforehand. You don’t need fancy words, just heartfelt ones. Sometimes starting out with a meaningful quote gives you a direction to follow with the rest of your wording. Focus on the couple, and why this moment is special for you too. For stories, you can recount some funny moments with the bride and groom, or talk about how they met if you were present at the time.
Keep things tactful – no revealing “secrets” no matter how amusing you may think they are. This isn’t a social networking site, it’s a wedding and in the wedding party etiquette, those giving the toasts know the boundaries.
Finally, wedding toast etiquette says that you do not have to memorize your speech. While doing so may make the talk sound more natural, having cards in front of you is perfectly acceptable and allays nervousness. It’s worse to forget what you wanted to say than it is to have to peek at notes. And, you can give the notes to the bride and groom to keep in their wedding memorabilia.