7/25 Ask Heather: Toast Etiquette

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Dear Heather,

The next thing on my list of things to do for the big day is make a list of people giving toasts. But it feels awkward to ask people to toast to you, right? I’m uncomfortable asking. But then again — the last wedding I went to as a bridesmaid, I wasn’t asked ahead of time to give a speech. But at the rehearsal dinner, the bride’s father got up and asked why none of the bridesmaids were giving speeches. Shocked, I gave a speech that wasn’t great and that I felt guilted into. How do I go about giving my toasters-to-be some peace of mind without feeling vain? Thanks so much!

Virginia Bride

Dear Virginia,

Toasts differ a bit between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception. At the rehearsal dinner, it’s much more open-ended in regards to who gives a toast. Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner, so the toasts start off with the groom’s father and can progress to include basically anyone who wants to give a toast, from the parents of the bride to the Best Man to anybody else in attendance. These toasts can be longer and a bit less formal than what you’d expect at the wedding reception. If you foresee an awkward encounter like you experienced, I’d give at least your Best Man and Maid of Honor a heads up. Or, if you aren’t comfortable with that, be prepared to take the toast reigns yourself and graciously thank your guests for attending the rehearsal, thereby avoiding any, “Why isn’t so-and-so toasting?” inquisitions.

As far as the wedding reception, the only person who is absolutely, truly, 100% expected to give a toast is the Best Man, and you have to make sure he’s prepared to give one. In addition to him, the Maid of Honor, parents of the bride, parents of the groom, and the couple themselves can also end up giving a toast. The big thing — make sure people know that they’ll be giving a toast.

For the Best Man, he simply needs to be told, “Hey, part of being the Best Man is giving the first toast of the reception. So, please make sure you have something prepared. And if you’re totally and completely uncomfortable doing this, tell us now so we can devise another plan.” This Other Plan can involve skipping him and going directly to the Maid of Honor, but it’s really unusual for the Best Man to not say anything at the reception.

For everyone else, I’d just ask them if they’d like to do a toast. If so, make sure they’re on the schedule and that they know their toast should be brief. And if you feel awkward asking people about this, think of it this way: This is their opportunity to help celebrate your brand new marriage! Anyone you ask will likely be honored to do so. Plus, it’ll mean that no one ends up getting put on the spot.

How are you handling toasts at your wedding? Will it be just the Best Man, or are you handing the microphone around a bit? Let us know in the comments below!

HeatherH
Heather Herrington is the advice columnist for The Broke-Ass Bride. When she's not satisfying the inquisitive nature of the BAB readership, she's likely crafting, trapped with at least one of her pets (one dog, two cats) on her lap, trying to ski but being unable to stop, or dreaming about where she wants to travel next. Feel free to stalk her at her website, on Facebook, or on Pinterest.