I have written in the past about whether or not toasts are even necessary at a wedding, and some alternatives you might consider doing instead. However, if you definitely want to include toasts at your wedding, here are my top 10 tips for planning this element of your big event so that it goes as smoothly as possible!
At traditional wedding receptions, couples planned toasts in a specific order with a semi-strict protocol. The order would be something like this:
However, these days things are up to the couple and usually look much different. Toasts usually now include the maid of honor, and tend to be fewer and/or spaced out over the evening. As lovely as toasts and speeches can be, as someone who has sat through many a long and excruciating set of wedding speeches, I urge you to heed certain pieces of advice listed here!
#1 Wait until everyone has been served drinks
If you’re planning on doing champagne, make sure everyone has a flute in hand before you begin the toasts. This could also be white wine or rosé. If it’s a seated dinner, also wait until everyone is comfortably sitting down.
#2 Appoint an emcee for the toasts
If you don’t already have a master of ceremonies or a DJ who can do the job, line up a trusted friend or relative to emcee the toasts. They should be kind, witty, and able to gently reign in anyone whose toasts goes on too long. You could also do this yourselves as the couple if you feel comfortable doing it. Be prepared to graciously introduce each of your toasters.
#3 Give all toast makers advance notice
Once you’ve chosen your toast makers, give them as much advance notice as possible. To make sure they’re as comfortable and as prepared as possible, try to give them at least three weeks.
#4 Ask your toast makers to keep toasts under 3 minutes
We’ve all suffered through long and torturous toasts at weddings. Do your guests a favor and make it very clear to your toast makers that they keep their toasts under 3 minutes. Let them know that the emcee will be (gently) cutting them off if they speak for too long. This tip is especially important if you’re planning on having more than three toasts.
#5 Provide your toast makers with a template
If you sense that your toast makers are nervous, give them a template (written or a video on YouTube) of a toast that you’ve heard or seen before and that you liked. That way, they will understand exactly what you’re expecting and hoping for.
#6 Provide your toast makers with “rules”
This might sound too authoritative or over-the-top, but necessary if you want to avoid your toast makers potentially sharing inappropriate stories, or even inside jokes that will come off long and boring to the majority of guests. If there are any “no-go” areas you’re worried about, tell your toast makers.
#7 Keep the number of toasts to a minimum
I wouldn’t have more than four toasts, though I know some couples will scoff at this and want to line up ten plus relatives to speak. But honestly, it’s boring for the rest of your guests after about the fourth toast, and the magic is gone! Keep the number down as best you can, or space them out (leaving one until cake time perhaps).
Alternatively, find another way to involve others who can’t give toasts, such as asking them to do a reading at the ceremony, be in the wedding party, speak at the rehearsal dinner, or help out in some other unique way.
#8 Choose your toast makers very carefully
Choose toasters who are both close to you and decent public speakers. It’s unfortunate that some of your closest friends and family may not be the best speakers. But it’s really not a great idea to put them in the spotlight in these situations.
#9 Help toast makers with technology
Make sure you or your emcee let your toasters know how to use the microphone, and support them with any sound issues.
#10 Use a hand-held microphone
If you have the choice at your venue, go for the hand-held mic. Speakers feel more comfortable when they have something to hold on to, and it will be easier to hand from one speaker to the next.