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 love toasts! Maybe I just know enough theatrical people that I’ve never seen the awkward ones, but I love hearing stories about the couple from their friends and parents, and I loved giving a toast at my sister’s wedding.

    …But I certainly don’t think they should be mandatory. People who are afraid of public speaking shouldn’t be put in that position, and couples who don’t like all the attention shouldn’t have yet ANOTHER part of the wedding be a spotlight on them. This should definitely be another “if you don’t want it, don’t do it.”

  2. I definitely see that toasts can be awkward and boring (trust me, I’ve been to weddings) but for our wedding, we didn’t force anyone to do them and sent out a fb post to some close friends saying that if you want to you can, and we’d also like lit/poem readings! We had 2 girls do a reading of the most beautiful poem that meant so much more than a regular toast! It was a great alternative! Also, we had buffet style food that everyone had already grabbed and started munching on before. It was really surprising how many people got up and did toasts, but since our wedding was so laid back , the majority of them were HILARIOUS! Such as my sisters husband coming up and saying, “May the Force be with You.” It can’t get much better than that!!!!! XD

  3. my best friend’s wife’s MOH had an AWFUL toast that embarrassed one of his groomsmen (and herself, to be honest). that alone guaranteed i’d never, ever, EVER want to deal with toasts.

  4. It might have a lot to do with the formality of the wedding – people feel that the more formal a wedding is, the toasts must be emphasized more and consequently longer. I’ve seen informal weddings with short and sweet toasts, and formal weddings with a gaggle of toasting.

    I once came across in an etiquette book that the number of people who toast and were toasted was ridiculous: groom toasting the bride, bridesmaids, his parents, her parents. Bride toasting the groom, his groomsmen, her parents, his parents. Best man toasting the bridal couple. Maid of honor toasting bridal couple. Father of bride toasting bridal couple and groom’s parents. Father of groom toasting bridal couple and bride’s parents. Bridal couple toasts grandparents … it’s practically endless! No wonder everyone hates toasts.

    The fiancé and I haven’t made any plans for toasts, but we’re keeping it small (less than a dozen people), and both our fathers are introverts. Our best friends from high school *might* toast us, as they’ve known us for almost two decades and they’re extroverts, so it’ll probably be very entertaining if they do.

    I dare anyone to have toast thrown at the bride and groom like in the audience participation part of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. I would, but the restaurant wouldn’t like it. ^_^

  5. We has some traditional things at our wedding and some not so traditional things! We toasted each other with chocolate milk after our cake. However, we did not have anyone make a toast. Actually, I don’t think I ever even thought about it until I read this article! So I think it can die… 🙂

  6. And my grandfather’s 80th birthday, our toasts consisted of everyone at the table telling short, sweet (or sometimes funny) stories about him. It would be nice if that could happen organically at my wedding- I certainly wouldn’t demand my guests each take a turn going on about how awesome me and my man are! I guess I’ll just let things happen as they happen, toasts or no toasts.

    • The best way to have things happen “organically” is to have a couple of people designated to start it. Pull aside a couple people ahead of time and ask them to “spontaneously” start reminiscing. If they act like they’re copying each other, other people are more likely to get involved too.

  7. I like toasts when they’re done well, as others have said, short, sweet and funny. My Dad gave a great toast at my brother’s wedding and I’m looking forward to him doing the same at mine. But I think if you’re going to allow toasts, you need to pre-ask people… at my friend’s wedding last year, the best man got up and gave a short, sweet speech, then… crickets. No one from the bride’s side spoke and it was… awkward to stay the least.

  8. If a couple really wants toasts, then toasts there shall be. But if the couple doesn’t really care, maybe it’d be a good idea to ask the people who would traditionally toast (honor attendants) if they care either way.

  9. My in-laws were really adamant about a champagne toast, I didn’t really care either way and since they offered to pay for the extra champagne, we went ahead and said ok. We only had speeches from my MOH (my only sister) and Samm’s best man (one of his oldest friends). Both of them were absolutely horrified at the idea of public speaking and I’m sure they would have been thrilled not to do it. The Best Man’s speech was awkward but heartfelt, but my sister’s toast was so poignant and sweet that it had me in tears. It was one of my favorite moments of the entire wedding. So I gotta say, despite all the nerves, I’m really glad we had a toast.

  10. As a gossipy offbeat wedding vendor, I can say that in my experience in the East Coast market, toasts are still a thing, and people seem to like them. We still have lots of bouquet tossing and some garter retrieving too. Like all things wedding, the toasts can be amazing, awful or somewhere in between. One of the best I’ve ever seen was a bridesmaid who stood up and spoke the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Love Is All You Need,” complete with a deadpan “Doo doo doo doo” that brought the house down.

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