Toasting: why so many people hate this wedding tradition

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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’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one who hates toasts! I hate toasts when I go to weddings, and I don’t want them at my wedding. I don’t really do well with super open, public affection, and there are some people coming to my wedding that I definitely do not want to give a microphone to.

  2. Hey now, toasts are one of my favorite parts of weddings! Probably because I’ve never witnessed any of the epically bad moments described in this post. The funniest toast I can remember was at a wedding where one of my college friends was the groom. The best man went to our college’s rival school, and made a wise crack about our college in his toast. This prompted all the guests from my school– including the groom!– to loudly boo the best man. Seemed like the best man knew this would happen, and it got a big laugh from the room.

  3. I think toasts stick around because it’s one of the ways that grooms can honor their groomsmen and brothers, and vice versa – they allow guys to honor and say nice things about each other in a manly way. There’s so much inbuilt hoopla to the bridesmaid experience – you’re gonna get gifts, you’re gonna get your hair did, you’re all gonna hug and cry, etc – but for guys, it’s drinking, getting a tie, and making a speech. It’s tough, like all public speaking is tough, and yes, it could be bad or awkward on either side, but still, I don’t see the tradition dying off anytime soon.

  4. I actually love toasts!! My family is very well-spoken and not shy, so many of the weddings I’ve been to have had wonderful, touching toasts. There is one discrepancy, though…so far every best man has really been terrible at their speeches. Whether they were drunk or just obviously forgot to write something down, they would get up there, ramble, go on too long, and then end on an awkward note. Nothing super offensive but always boring and a little embarrassing. Hoping our best man will do better, but if he doesn’t it won’t ruin anything!

  5. As a guest I’ve sat through some horrifying toasts. Sometimes it seems like best-case scenario someone just sobs incoherently while holding a microphone. Then there are the hackneyed jokes about the bride being a controlling bitch, and the one dudebro who used his entire toast to make a shitty “joke” about the groom being “gay”.
    I did decide to have toasts at my own wedding though. My husband and I chose two specific people who we knew were good, trustworthy public speakers. They wisely kept their toasts short, and it turned out nice. But I wouldn’t have included toasts if I thought the toast-givers would say something offensive, and I would never force toast-giving duties on someone painfully shy. Also: feed your guests first, for sure!

  6. Is it weird that I want to keep toasts just so we have an excuse to honor our guests? They’re there because we love them, and they’ve done amazing things for us. So it’d be nice to pay some respects in a brief speech for all the love they’ve given us.

    • I think it’s fine for the couple to toast their guests, keeping it shorter, or at least letting people eat. It’s the guests toasting the couple that can go awry..

  7. The toasts were probably one of the best parts of my first wedding, actually — but my family *always* does toasts and I guess they keep in practice? And now that we’re divorced, the toasts, particularly from my parents, are the only part of the wedding I revisit . (And I have four parents, so even if we had done dances, I probably wouldn’t have had a special dance with each.)

  8. THANK YOU for giving us permission to nix the toasts. We are getting married in 3 days and were both dreading that awful moment when the wrong person picks up the microphone. If people really *need* to say something, they can say it at the rehearsal dinner.

  9. Yeah, I was asked to give a speech at a wedding recently, and even though she said it was optional, I still felt like I should give it a try. And oh man, it caused so much anxiety! I ended up winging it and it went over well, but I was left with very mixed feelings about the toasts thing. I think my dad (who is paying for the reception so gets some input) expects us to do toasts, but I wouldn’t wish the stress I dealt with on anyone. And yeah, a lot of toasts are pretty boring, especially where they end up telling a lot of in-jokes and the like. Much like commencement speeches, actually.

  10. Toasts were problematic for us too. All my bridesmaids were too shy to speak, but all the groomsmen were chomping at the bit, so we had a gaggle of groomsmen giving awkward toasts. Finally, when one of my friends who wasn’t a bridesmaid saw that none of the bridesmaids were going to speak, she jumped up and gave a touching, impromptu toast that I’ll never forget. Nonetheless, I wish I could get in my time machine now, go back 6 months and declare our reception a toast-free zone. (Maybe with a cartoon of toast under a buster sign.)

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