The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, defines a
"toast" as the act of raising a glass and drinking in honor of or to the health of a person or thing. The origin of the word, it is believed may be
from the use in bygone days, as early as the 1600's when it was common to toss in a piece of bread or crouton into one's beverage as flavoring of
spiced toast to flavor drinks.
According to toast historian (yes, there really are toast historians) Paul Dickson, the first application of the word occurred in Bath, England in
1709. As the story goes, a "noted beauty" of that fair city was seen bathing in public, when an admirer—so taken by her loveliness—filled a
cup with the bath water and drank it in her honor! Soon after, another admirer declared his admiration for the lady, but his revulsion for the
bath water. So, instead, he offered to eat the toast in her honor. And thus, the term stuck.
Whatever its origins, the wedding toast has become a highlight of the wedding reception. The toast maker may be the object of great respect and
admiration, if his toast is well prepared and appropriately presented, and sometimes, when not so well thought out, it may be better forgotten.
The key to a successful toast may be summarized in one word, "preparation." The wedding toast traditionally is offered to the bride and groom by the
best man, and/or, by the maid or matron of honor, and should be considered an important and serious obligation. Because public speaking is the most
common phobia for Americans, being assigned the responsibility of making a toast is no easy, comfortable task, but rather usually a quite daunting
assignment. Preparation and forethought can make the difference between an embarrassing situation and a delightful juncture in the wedding festivities.
If "preparation" is the keyword for a successful toast, then the acronym KISS (keep It Simple & Short) is the best guideline. Long drawn-out toasts
tend to sound insincere at worst and boring, at best. So, approaching the toasting task with an eye to brevity is an excellent way to conquer the job.
Always leave your audience wanting more!
There are several options open to the presenter. The choice is a personal one and should fit the personality of the person making the toast. The
wedding toast is not a good time to break in a stand-up comedy routine although a humorous toast is certainly in order if it's in good taste.
Humor is always enjoyable, but necessarily easy to execute. Sweet and sentimental usually draws attention and sometimes tears, but the presenter
need take care not to sound corny or phony and ruin the intention.
Originality is not necessary and there is no reason not to borrow lines from literature or poetry. A quick trip to the library will yield countless
selections. Surfing on the Internet is another way to find poignant quotations. Whichever way the presenter chooses to go, here are some
pointers to follow. Several quotations which may serve as the basis for toasts, follow the text of this article.
There are many books written that devote themselves specifically to toasting and so include wedding toasts, as well. There even is a company
based in Chicago that provides tutoring for toasting. This may seem a bit overdone, but the truth is that the wedding toast can set a tone and mood
that carry over into the whole reception. So toasting should certainly not be taken lightly.
If the toast is about a personal story to which the bride and groom can relate, make certain that relating it doesn't leave out everyone else in
the room. Long, drawn-out stories of a personal nature may be significant to the couple, but don't hit the mark if the majority of the guests
haven't a clue, and can't connect.
The content, whether humorous or serious, should never include material that may be offensive or embarrassing. This is a toast, not a roast, and
not the time for off-color or extremely personal remarks. Keeping in mind that the objective of the toast is to honor the bride and groom, will be a
way by which to judge appropriateness.
Preparation should involve not only selection of materials, but review and rehearsal. Offering the toast is an important honor to the giver and the
receivers, so it needs some time for review. Note cards are perfectly acceptable as a way to remind the presenter of the material. It is, of
course, preferable, if possible, for the material to be memorized. Memorization only works if it doesn't make the material mechanical
In addition to the "what," it's also important to know "when" to offer the toasts.
Either the DJ, or the MC are responsible for quieting the guests and announcing the toasts. In the event that a DJ or MC are not available, or by choice, this can be a function delegated to the best man, or to the maid or matron of honor.
At a buffet reception, it'll be a little more difficult to find an appropriate time for the toasts, but usually it works best after most of the guests have made their first "trip" to the buffet tables. At a buffet reception, a really good MC,
or DJ can be especially helpful in writing down the "crowd." Your event coordinator can also be enlisted to "gather your guests."
If you are strictly following wedding etiquette and having a sit-down reception, then the toasts should take place after the meal. The reasoning is that if the toasts are offered after the meal, the greatest number of guests will be "around and "a fed audience should be better than one with stomachs rumbling.
Needless to say, many of today's bridal couples don't follow tradition to the letter, so there are several other places during the reception where toasts are inserted. For example, the couple may choose to insert a toast after cutting the wedding cake, but before dessert. The rationale is that most guests quiet down
for the cake cutting and the "event" is always announced by the DJ or the MC. Some couples have toasts offered right before the meal begins, because they feel that at that time, it'll be easiest to get everyone's attention at that time. One bride told me that she decided to have the toasts presented before the meal, because she knew that the people offering the toasts were nervous and she wanted them to be able to enjoy their meals.
There isn't really a "wrong" time for offering toasts, but what's best is to try to choose a time when the guests are relatively quiet. In that way, the toasts will be heard and the people offering the toasts won't have to yell over the
From a technical standpoint, it is advisable for the toast presenter to check out the electronic equipment. A look at the microphone, its on and
off buttons, and its volume control will keep those first few words from becoming "boomers" or whispers. The presenter will, need to remember not only to bring notes, if there are any, but also a glass of champagne or wine with which to
toast the bride and groom. Incidentally, when they are toasted, the bride and groom do not raise their glasses like everyone else.
Since they are the ones being honored, raising their glasses would be like toasting themselves!"Love doesn't make the world go ‘round. Loves is what makes the ride worthwhile." (Franklin P. Jones) Our heartfelt wishes for the ride of your lives!
Finally, a word to the presenter . . . if you do your homework and prepare, if your material is appropriate to the occasion, and if you just relax,
everything will turn out just fine!
"Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction." (Antoine de Saint Exupery) May you always look out with love at love.
"Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists pf leaving about three or four things a day unsaid." (Harlan Miller)
"Marriage is a lottery in which men stake their liberty and women their happiness." (Mme. de Rieux)
"My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me." Winston Churchill
"Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and cyprus grow not in each other's shadow." (Kahlil Gibran)
. . . . and, finally, several Irish Blessings:
"May there always be work for your hands to do. May your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane. May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near you. And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you."
"May you both live as long as you want, And never want as long as you live."
"May your glasses be ever full. May the roof over your heads be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead."
"May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings, Slow to make enemies, And quick to make friends."
"But rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward."
"As you slide down the bannister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.
"May the joys of today be those of tomorrow. The goblets of life hold no dregs of sorrow."
Have any toasts you would like to share? We would love to hear from you. When you write, please let us know if we can use your name and where you're from.,
E-mail Us. Thank you.
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