Close your eyes for a sec and think back to the last wedding toast you really, truly loved—what stood out about it? Was it jam-packed with lovely memories and rife with emotion? Was it tender and kind? Was it just flat-out funny? There are as many types of wedding toasts as there are people who give them, which means the world of wedding toasts can feel kind of gigantic. Add the fact that plenty of people have horrible stage fright when it comes to giving toasts, and figuring out how to handle wedding toasts can feel like a… project.
We thought it prudent to put together the ultimate APW guide to wedding toasts. Below you’ll get answers to everything (okay, almost everything!) you need to know: Who gives wedding toasts (and why)? What is the proper etiquette around wedding toasts these days? And why does everyone say that mostly men should speak at weddings? WE GOT YOU:
tips and etiquette for wedding toasts
who gives wedding toasts in the first place? The people who are most important to you and to your wedding give wedding toasts. Think your maid of honor, your best man, any and all of your parents, and maybe siblings or other people close to your heart that don’t have a specific title. Keep the list short and sweet, and if you have more people who want to speak, ask them to speak at your rehearsal dinner (or maybe even at a shower).
Of course, the history of wedding toasts is more complicated than this. For a long time, wedding toasts have been mostly the province of men, and even in progressive weddings, it can be easy for the people around you to revert to traditional norms, which means a whole lot of men will speak on your behalf, and very few women. So let’s dispense with all the bad advice that people will give you. NO, the “financier” of your wedding (if you have one), does not get a special toast. Paying for things does not earn you extra mic time. NO, it’s not true that your dad should speak because he has a special daddy-daughter connection, and your mom should smile quietly. If the mother-child connection isn’t special, I literally don’t know what is.
So throw out all that bullshit, and ask the people that are most important to you to say something. Remember that because wedding toasts have traditionally revolved around men, you should go out of your way to ask the women in your life to speak, and encourage them to do so. This may mean spelling out that while you want your dad to speak, you think your mom has something important and different to say, and you want her to speak also.
what order do wedding toasts go in? Wedding toasts should go in an order that makes sense to you, often ending with one of the most important people in your life. This means you should start with friends (maid of honor, best man, etc.), and then likely end with some words from your parents. If you and your partner want to close with a few words, that’s fine (but not necessary). Here is a sample outline:
- Maid of Honor
- Best Man
- Bride’s Mom
- Bride’s Dad
- Groom’s Mom
- Groom’s Dad
- A few words from the couple
It’s wise to set the order of speaking in advance and have one trustworthy person in charge of passing the mic on to its next rightful owner who can make sure the toasts wrap up in a timely manner, so the reception can move on to the next event.
It will probably come as no surprise to you that many people will tell you that your toasts should start with the best man (and he should run the show), then maybe the maid of honor speaks, and then the bride’s father. It will also come as no surprise that we think this is the wrong answer. Order your toasts in a way that makes sense to you, and try to end on what you expect to be the most emotional toast last.
when do wedding toasts happen? If you’re having a formal wedding, the wedding toasts are usually delivered after the meal but before the dancing. You can see more detail in our sample wedding timelines here. Wedding toasts are a great way to draw attention to the couple and remind everyone that it’s time to settle in and get down to the business of the wedding reception. However, wedding timelines vary, and not everyone is having a super formal wedding to begin with. In general, it’s probably a good idea to keep your wedding toasts before everyone is dancing, because once that party is unleashed, it might be hard to reel it back in.
what do we do while wedding toasts are going on? Some couples totally hate that the wedding toasts mean by nature that everyone is looking at them… but you know, it’s kind of one of those times when you have to grin and bear it. As someone who did exactly that during wedding toasts, worrying that they were boring everyone, I’d strongly suggest that you try to get out of your own head for a second and really soak it in. There are so few times that people that we love will stand up and tell a room full of people just how much they love us. It generally happens when we hatch, match, and dispatch, and this might well be the only such occasion that you’ll get to remember. So try to give in, and just let people love you.
Is Opening the Mic at the end of Wedding Toasts A Good Idea? No. No it is not. If you have people you love that you can’t fit into the toasting order, consider having them speak the night before at your rehearsal dinner. I know, I know. You have a lot of people there who love you a lot. But here is the thing. Once you open the mic to a bunch of slightly drunk people, you might never get to move on to the rest of the night. Pick the handful of people that you want to speak, and let everyone else just come give you a drunken hug.
What should be included in a wedding toast? We have two good tutorials on wedding toasts: one for the maid of honor, and one for the best man. (Guess which person we warn against telling off color jokes? Because seriously, don’t tell off color jokes.) But a general formula follows, and short and sweet always takes the day.
- I love you both so much.
- Insert anecdote or a story about the couple and how great they are, and how much you love them.
- I hope you are always happy.
30 real quotes THAT ARE PERFECT FOR WEDDING TOASTS
10 BOOK QUOTES FOR WEDDING TOASTS
- “A love story is not about those who lose their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon, means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing—not the wisdom of sleep or the habit of social graces. It is a consuming of oneself and the past.”
—The English Patient
- “‘Is this the moment?’ Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. ‘OI! There’s a war going on here!’ Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other. ‘I know, mate,’ said Ron, who looked as though he had recently been hit on the back of the head with a Bludger, ‘so it’s now or never, isn’t it?’”
—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- “Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone’s hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted—wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don’t look at me. If you don’t, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me.”
—The History of Love
- “To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships. We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.”
—All About Love: New Visions
- “To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”
—Love in the Time of Cholera
- “‘Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, and not a strait waistcoat—your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from you with disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer a ray of recognition for me.’”
- “The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”
—Letters to a Young Poet
- “‘I don’t like you, Park,’ she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. ‘I…’ – her voice nearly disappeared – ‘think I live for you.’ He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow. ‘I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,’ she whispered. ‘Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?’ He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”
—Eleanor & Park
- “‘What are you going to do with your life?’ In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer… ‘Live each day as if it’s your last,’ that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.”
- “We laugh and laugh, and nothing can ever be sad, no one can be lost, or dead, or far away: right now we are here, and nothing can mar our perfection, or steal the joy of this perfect moment.”
—The Time Traveler’s Wife
10 proverbs for wedding toasts
- “Health and life to you; The woman of your choice for you; A child every year for you; And may you die in Ireland.”
- “If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap. If you want happiness for a day—go fishing. If you want happiness for a month—get married. If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime—help someone else.”
- “Deep love is stronger than life.”
- “Nothing is real but dreams and love.”
—Anna de Noailles
- “Where there is love, there is no darkness.”
- “Love itself is calm; turbulence arrives from individuals.”
- “Don’t just take love, experience it.”
- “The heart that loves is always young.”
- “Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly but flooding the river.”
- “The best part of happiness lies is in the secret heart of a lover.”
10 quotes from women for wedding toasts
- “If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”
- “Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”
- “Maybe the point is that any marriage is work, but you may as well pick work you like.”
- “Don’t settle for a relationship that won’t let you be yourself.”
- “Being married is like having somebody permanently in your corner. It feels limitless, not limited.”
- “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”
- “The best marriages, like the best lives, were both happy and unhappy. There was even a kind of necessary tension, a certain tautness between the partners that gave the marriage strength, like the tautness of a full sail.”
—Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- “It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self love deficit.”
- “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. That is what makes a marriage last.”
- “Rich or poor, you have a better chance of keeping him—and keeping him interested—if you belong to something or someone besides him.”—Helen Gurley Brown
did you have wedding toasts at your wedding? which wedding toasts meant the most to you? which wedding toasts could you have… done without? what advice would you give to people who are giving wedding toasts (and to couples who are planning receptions around them)?