Toasting: why so many people hate this wedding tradition

Posted by
Player 1 Player 2 champagne toasting flutes from GlassCannons

Sometimes we gossip with our wedding industry vendor friends. We like to get the scoop about things they're seeing more often at weddings (ring warmings! hand fastings!) and just generally get the insider gossip. And you know what our vendor friends are telling us? That basically, almost everyone hates wedding toasts.

And you know what? Based on what we see people searching for on Offbeat Bride, we think our vendor friends are onto something. No one seems to want to do toasts.

No one knows how to do a wedding toast

Here are a few of the searches we see on Offbeat Bride:

  • how to write a wedding toast
  • wedding toast tips
  • wedding toast help

Ok, so it's clear that the people who are supposed to be giving wedding toasts don't know what to do. We've gotten advice emails from groomsmen and family members being like “Ug, I have no idea what to say!” Why do we keep forcing them to say anything?

Lots of couples are embarrassed by wedding toasts

Yeah, we know this one REAL well. Tons of couples hate wedding toasts because they're embarrassing and awkward. Again, a sampling of searches we see on Offbeat Bride:

  • how to avoid embarrassing wedding toasts
  • how to cut off a wedding toast
  • wedding toast alternatives

So yeah: lots of couples loathe wedding toasts, especially shy brides and introverted couples.

Vendors struggle with toasts too

And what about our gossipy vendor friends? The ones whose jobs it is to make sure their client's wedding run smoothly, and that everyone has a good time? They struggle with wedding toasts for all sorts of reasons. A shortlist of complaints we've heard:

…There's no good time for toasts!

There's really no good time for toasts. At the beginning of dinner (traditional timing) too many speeches can really mess up the quality of the food service, as keeping everything fresh and ready to go is really tough when you have no idea when to serve it. Near the end of dinner (my preferred spot to place toasts) works better for food service, and guests are generally better listeners on full tummies.

However, this spot can sometimes cause so much anxiety on the part of a reluctant toasters that they get screwed out of the meal entirely. I've personally seen a few delicious meals go completely untouched because the poor person didn't want to eat until they'd “gotten through” their toast for fear of puking out of terror.

…Toasts always take too long!

Guests are often-times tortured if speeches go too long. I tell my couples to aim for four toasts max (two wedding party, two parental), with no more than three minutes apiece. (People always go long if you don't give them a time structure.)One of my weddings this summer had toasts for an hour and ten minutes! Guests were pulling me aside and asking me, “when are these over?” The bride and groom looked miserable.

Toasts also take away valuable time with the photographer! I think most couples would want better party/dancing photos than pictures of people talking.

…Toasts can embarrass couples and ruin receptions!

I've got some horror stories of toasts gone wrong, but even under the best circumstances they just result in embarrassment to the couple (…why do people think it's OK to talk about exes?!!! GAH!). I've seen one bride brought to tears she was so upset about a toast gone wrong.
My professional facepalm toast highlight was the VERY very drunk toaster who was so damn loud on the mic (rock star SCREAMING: WOOO! YEAAAAHHH! LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE COUPLE WOOOOOOOO!) that he blew out the sound system entirely, effectively bringing both his toast and the entire reception to a full stop.
For the love of God, never “open it up” to anyone who has a toast to share. You're just inviting awkwardness for everyone.

Ok, so to summarize

  • Lots of guests asked to do toasts don't know wtf to say
  • Lots of couples don't like the attention that toasts bring
  • Lots of vendors have issues with the timing and logistics of toasts

The question then becomes, would anyone REALLY care if wedding toasts just stopped happening? What if they just slipped into the night of wedding traditions that don't really happen any more?

Well, wait: toasts do fulfill a solid purpose: they give guests the opportunity to tell the couple how much they love and support them. So, let's get meta: what other ways your guests have the opportunity to honor you?

A few of the schemes we've come up with:

  • Do your toasts at the rehearsal dinner — it's a much more intimate platform.
  • Have your guestbook act as the way that guests can share their well-wishings with you.
  • Hashtag Instagram or TikTok videos. You could even set a monitor up with a TagBoard feed of your guests' wedding wishes.

We'd love to hear from y'all: are toasts a terrible wedding tradition that needs to die? Do you totally love them? What toasting-alternatives can we come up with?

Comments on Toasting: why so many people hate this wedding tradition

  1. I nixed toasts at our wedding. We had a Quaker ceremony, so our guests had plenty of time to share their thoughts, hopes and support with us during the open worship. Still, at our reception, my brand new brother-in-law stood up midway through the meal and said, “Against the wishes of the bride, I’d like to make a toast. Here’s to Emmy and James and a long, happy marriage!” It was perfect! Short and sweet, not embarrassing, and genuine in its spontaneity. Plus, we got a great photo out of it.

    • We’re not having a Quaker ceremony (though our friends have asked us to, hah!), and there’s a lot of people who want to say something. I don’t know how to let people talk outside of using toasts during the reception. I would love to figure out ways to either borrow from the Quaker ceremony in our ceremony, or to incorporate our guests’ “thoughts, hopes, and support” in other ways during the day.

  2. I’ve been to two weddings (out of probably two dozen) where the toasts were really well done. The two things those toasts included were 1) the toasting person knew both members of the couple very well and consequently gave a sneak peek into their lives and couplehood for those of us who didn’t know the couple as well, and 2) They kept it short, funny, and loving. Perhaps part of why The Toast is dying is because we don’t see it done well often enough to keep it a positive, awesome part of the celebration?

    I love the modern ideas of showing support to couples, but I am not ready to throw *good* toasts away. I think most of us know whether we have someone in our lives who is capable of making such a toast and that might be a deciding factor in having them at all.

    • Totally agree. I gave a great toast at my best friend’s wedding (if I do say so myself!) and the toasts were one of the highlights of my cousin’s recent wedding. They hit all the marks you mentioned — short, funny, sweet, and by people who knew the couple well and were comfortable speaking in public. The groom even got up to toast his parents and new in-laws, which I thought was a really nice gesture (don’t know if this is a typical thing in British weddings…).

    • Yes, the toast is certainly a dying tradition, but it can be so nice when actually done well. At my FBIL’s wedding, my FH gave a wonderful toast that people complimented him on all night. It had the right amount of funny and sweet, lasting only a few minutes and all prepared ahead of time. Then the bride’s sister stood up, left her prepared speech at home and tried to wing it, and it was soo awkward. She had no idea how to finish it out and accidentally said something that made it sound like she was bitter because her younger sister was getting married first.
      But there really is something to be said about a good toast. Couples getting married should just determine whether those they’re asking to give a toast would actually be good at it and comfortable or not.

  3. We considered skipping toasts, but found the audio really powerful as a voiceover during the highlight video 🙂

    • THAT is a great idea! I have been stressing over which Metallica song is the most romantic for the highlight video because we don’t like “sappy” music. THIS may be a solution.

  4. My sister just got married on Saturday (10.12.13) I was MOH. And I’m pretty sure I gave a kick-ass speech.

    Short and Sweet is key. I did a twist on an Irish toast (my maternal grandparents are immigrants)

    “Here’s to lying, cheating, stealing, and drinking!

    May you always lie in the arms of the one you love

    May you both cheat illness and bad times and have a long life together

    May you continue to steal each other’s hearts in the years to come

    May we all drink to your love and your continued happiness for the rest of your days.

    …. And I’m so excited to finally have a brother!

    Sláinte (Gaelic for cheers)”

    • My fiance is also of Irish descent. I’m going to email this to his Best Man, should we decide to keep the “toasting” route. Thanks for sharing it.

      • Email away. I had a hell of a time trying to format this toast appropriately. The traditional way starts out “never lie, cheat , steal, or drink…” Then it goes on to say “if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love” and so on and I thought it was just too much text and people would have a hard time following.. Also I’m kind of considered the “troublemaker” in the family so starting the speech how I did just felt appropriate to me.

  5. Thank you for giving me permission to eliminate toasts from my wedding entirely! More than anything else about my wedding, the “toasting” part makes me anxious. I don’t deal well at all with sappy, whether it’s directed at me, toward someone else, or on TV. My fiance kept his proposal to “you’re an amazing woman, I love you, will you marry me, here’s a ring” for that very reason. Also, my sister (my MOH) is painfully shy, my fiance’s best man can be terribly inappropriate, my father thinks it’s funny to chide me in public and my future MIL cried so much during her toast at her daughter’s wedding that she could barely get any words out. For all these reasons, the thought of “toast time” makes me cringe. We also discussed doing toasts at our rehearsal dinner and getting it over with so the people who feel like they HAVE to say something can and we could enjoy the wedding without fear. We also are going to have a photo booth with “video testimonial” options so I like that idea. Thanks!

    • Your proposal reminds me of mine – “You’re awesome and we’re awesome together, you should take this.” Less because I don’t like sappy and more because he was so damn nervous!

  6. At our wedding, we had a quick cake and champagne reception immediately following the wedding and then our very tiny wedding party went to a restaurant for dinner. Since I knew we weren’t going to have any privacy at the restaurant, I asked our guests to deliver any “toasts, prayers, chants, or empowerment exercises” at the cake reception. I was mostly worried about having a big group prayer (which is traditional in my family but not at all what Husband or I wanted), but I wanted it to apply to toasts too. Our Best Woman gave a really short toast with the champagne that was something to the effect of, “Don’t fuck it up.” Loved it!

  7. I felt kind of “meh” about having toasts at our wedding, but I thought they were expected, so we had them. They ended up being THE BEST part of our wedding! My husband and I dated for 10 years before we were married, starting when we were 17, so everyone who spoke had known us both for a long time. And I guess we just have awesome, smart, funny friends (and relatives), because the toasts made us laugh, cry, and get the “warm fuzzies.” I felt they gave the ceremony a lot of depth and meaning. I’m so glad we didn’t skip the toasts.

    We had a fairly small gathering, and I truthfully don’t recall when they happened in the evening. Before dinner?

  8. I hate toasts because it seems like a lot of toasters take the opportunity to trot out a bunch of cliches and the exact sort of gender role/marriage is DOOM hogwash that I’d be working really gosh-darn hard to avoid. And then there’s always that forced laughter afterwards where you can hear the eye roll in their polite chuckles. I think it’s important to lay out to your toast-givers exactly what sort of nonsense won’t be welcome.

    I love the idea of the TagBoard feed, maybe even projected up on a wall somewhere. That gives guests who are interested the opportunity to check it out, plus it adds a little entertainment to the night–I KNOW my friends would try to outdo each other with awesome notes, photos and wishes!

  9. While I know a lot of people aren’t fond of them I really like them. I think the key is to stress to the people you are asking that this is totally optional.

    I think if you have some one close to you who is a natural performer it might be a great way to honor them. One of my friends asked her sister to do a toast and she wrote a Suessian rhyme about their friendship and it was amazing. Another one, simultaneously made the mother of the bride cry with laughter and the preacher leave in only 5 or 6 lines. Some toasts can be really great.

    We ended up with 5 “speakers” at our reception. My Grandfather said grace before the meal. He’s not a public speaker, but prayer is important to him. He got nervous and fell back on his altar boy roots and said it in Latin. While it was far from “perfect” it was actually perfect. That one moment meant a lot to me and my family, and I think gave a bit of a glimpse of my background to the grooms side (not to mention made me bawl and hug him, resulting in pictures where you can see I am the younger female image of him.)

    Then my dad and sister, who are both natural speech givers, and do great in the courtroom and classroom, cried through their speeches. This again caught me off guard and the amount of love was totally overwhelming.

    We had two best men. One had been deployed with my husband. His short speech alluded to a few things they had gone through together without being embarrassing or revealing. This did open the door for my husband to talk to me about a few things he had never told me. It brought us closer.

    His twin brother is super quiet and reserved so we figured he wouldn’t take us up on the invitation to a toast. When he stood up his whole side of the family waited with baited breath. I’ve always thought he wasn’t a fan of me, because I’m…..boisterous and his total opposite. I struggled with feeling like I would never be able to be friends with him let alone consider him family. Now I know that my brother-in-law, not only approves of our marriage but also looks at me as family in his own quiet way.

    While I know a lot of guests aren’t fans of speeches, there are also some things in weddings and receptions that aren’t really for guests. I might be nice to have everything smooshed into a ceremony and just a boozy good time after, but sometimes its nice to keep the love flowing I guess.

  10. I thought about nixing the toasts, but we decided to keep them and I am so happy we did. Husband and I both asked our groomsMEN and Ladies of Awesome if there were any of them that actually wanted to give toasts at all. My maid of honor and one of husband’s groomsmen *leaped* at the opportunity to toast. And then more and more people told us they wanted to toast. So we let them!

    Everyone got brinner via the buffet and about 10 minutes into dinner my maid of honor and husband’s groomsman gave short and sweet toasts. We laughed, we teared up, we got embarrassed (in good ways!), and felt so much love. Then we opened the mic up to anyone that felt like they wanted to give a toast for the rest of dinner. The mic stayed pretty empty for a while, but it was very no pressure. We’re all just enjoying dinner. If you feel like giving a toast, go for it. Don’t feel like giving a toast? No worries. We’ll keep eating. And then we had friends coming up and giving short, spontaneous toasts. It was so sweet! Again with the tears, the laughter, the embarrassment, and the good feelings. Two friends quickly came up with a shared toast and it was one of the best parts of the evening!

    Toasts were definitely something we felt we could live without during the wedding planning. However, when the people spoke we let them do it. If it didn’t matter that much to us and it really mattered to them, who am I to say no when it isn’t costing us any extra money? I’m so glad we gave our guests the opportunity to speak their minds. Although, now I think about it, half of the guests were actors/in theatre. That may have had something to do with it…

Read more comments

Comments are closed.