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Often people fear they will be expected to give a brilliant spontaneous toast, but those responsible for wedding toasts know in advance and can prepare.
Salute! Sante! Cheers! Toasting dates back to Roman times when a glass of wine with a toasted piece of bread at the bottom was passed around the table. The last person to sip from the goblet, claimed the bread and would be the one to “toast”.
Often people fear they will be expected to give a brilliant spontaneous toast, but those responsible for wedding toasts know in advance and can prepare. They can write down their thoughts and rehearse ahead of time. Still others prefer toasts that spring from the heart as they rise from their seat.
Roasts vs. toasts
The rehearsal dinner is the appropriate time to have a “roast”, a completely different form of salute. A roast is never appropriate at a wedding reception. The rehearsal dinner guests are generally limited to members of the bridal party, closest friends and family members participating in the wedding. Everyone can participate in a rehearsal dinner roast, with a joke, humorous anecdote or sharing of personal memories.
Most people attending the rehearsal dinner have a more intimate relationship with the couple so they can enjoy intimate humor. However, if the tendency is for the humor to be risque, stop short of making the parents and older relatives uncomfortable.
At the reception
Toasts are traditional at wedding receptions where the guests are a broader cross-section of relatives and acquaintances of the bridal couple. Though interested in the couple, most of those outside the wedding party are a step removed from the bridal couple in terms of intimacy.
There are two good times during the reception to make brief toasts. A toast (or a couple brief ones) can take place prior to sitting down for dinner or prior to cutting the wedding cake.
The couple hears toasts from well wishers in a specific order. First, the party’s host begins the toasting. If the father of the bride is the host, he starts. The traditional order is: first, the father of the bride; second, the best man; then the maid of honor. While not as well known a tradition, the maid of honor does indeed toast the bride and groom. If the bride and groom host their own wedding, they would start the toasts by extending thanks and appreciation to families and guests first.
Elements of a toast
A toast is a meaningful acknowledgment of the wedding couple and an expression of good wishes for their happy future together. It is also a salutation of welcome, with one side of the bridal party welcoming the other. For example, the best man welcomes the bride into the groom’s side of the family and his circle of friends.
The presenter of the toast should keep in mind other wedding guests are not as close to the couple, so remarks should not be worded in such a way that only a select group will understand. This is also not a time to try to make the bridal couple blush. The toast should last around three and no more than five minutes. At the conclusion, guests are asked to “raise their glasses” or invited to “give a toast” to the new couple.
In addition to the more traditional wording, personal poems or lines borrowed from famous poets can create the mood and tone the presenter is seeking. Or, they can write a personalized speech. Sentimental toasts are common, particularly the father of the bride’s toast to his daughter and welcoming the groom into the family. Guests are then responsible to raise their glasses in a heart-felt, joint expression of good wishes.
Many books on toasting are available and can be found in bookstores or online. Cheers! Here’s to a wonderful future.
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” www.a-dreamwedding.com
©2009 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.
Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.
©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero's expressed written permission.