Traditionally, wedding toasts are given in the following order:
The Best Man
You might think that being Best Man is all about planning a raucous bachelor party and not much else, but the Best Man does have one major responsibility to prepare for: the toast. The Best Man should introduce himself and explain how he knows the couple. For example, he can tell the story of how he and the groom have been buddies since high school and how they met the bride-to-be during spring break their junior year of college. He can then say something positive about the couple and their relationship, show gratitude for being part of their day and wish them happiness.
Maid of Honor
While the Maid of Honor can follow the same outline as the Best Man’s speech, it’s more common to focus on the bride. Drawing from past experiences together, the Maid of Honor can tell a heartwarming or funny story from their friendship or from wedding planning escapades. For example, maybe the veil didn’t arrive until the day before the wedding or putting together the favors was a complete nightmare, but the bride managed to keep her cool through it all.
Parents of Either Spouse
If one or both sets of parents are hosting the wedding, they may choose to say a few words to welcome everyone to the event. This toast will be fairly fast, especially if the parents made a lengthy or heartwarming toast at the rehearsal dinner. They will welcome and thank the guests, then toast the other set of parents and the couple before raising their glasses.
The Couple (Optional)
Sometimes the couple will opt to make a toast, particularly if they are hosting the wedding. The main purpose of the speech by the couple is to thank everyone involved: the bridal party, family, and guests. Couples may also express their excitement about starting their new married life together.
Wedding Toast Length and Content
Keep it brief. One to two minutes is ideal, and three minutes is the max. Even if there’s a lot to say, talking for three minutes can feel like a long time! Just one message needs to be conveyed: one story, one wish for the couple, one heartwarming song lyric. The best speeches don’t necessarily have perfected, eloquent wording; instead, they evoke an emotion. Simple, short toasts can still be filled with charm.
When it comes to what to say, your intention should be to make both spouses and all guests smile…at the same time. Inside stories may amuse the couple, but they can easily get lost in the crowd. Don’t bring up old flames or problems the couple has faced. Not sure if that story from freshman year is appropriate? Leave it out – children, parents, and grandparents are listening! Avoid insult humor, too. Remember, this is a toast, not a roast!
Alternative and Extra Speech-Makers
Every couple has their own preferences and relationships, and nobody should ever feel forced to give a toast. If the Best Man or Maid of Honor isn’t comfortable speaking in front of a crowd (or if there isn’t a Best Man or Maid of Honor at all), either skip it or hand the baton to somebody who will love getting up in front of a sea of eager faces. If a lot of people want to make a toast, consider arranging traditional toasts during the wedding and plan the rest for the rehearsal dinner.
Rehearsal Dinner Toasts
At the rehearsal dinner, the groom’s father (or whoever is hosting the dinner) usually makes a speech, along with anyone else who wants to toast but won’t be getting up at the wedding. Since fewer people will be in attendance, these speeches can be longer and more involved than wedding day speeches. Say hello and introduce yourself, then welcome everyone and say how excited you are for the wedding. Tell a sweet, hilarious, or intriguing story that’s related to the couple or the wedding. For example, give your first impression of meeting the bride or groom; talk about how the couple met or got engaged; or share a childhood memory, like how the bride used to try on her mother’s wedding gown when she was a teenager. End with something sentimental and heartfelt about the couple or a quote about marriage, then wish the couple well.