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?

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

  1. As a wedding planner I’ve had my fair share of toasts really cause the timeline to be pushed way back. I recommend having the toasts after the cake cutting. After the bride and groom cut the cake the caterers can take it in the back and slice it while the toasts are going on. I find this to be very efficient.

  2. I think the key to good speeches/toasts is to A) NOT do open-mic, but hand pick people you trust to toast you, B) let them understand that this is totally optional and C) give them an outline to follow. Also, keep the number and time frame short . We did toasts, and had my dad, the best man and MOH speak. All together I think the toasts lasted about 15 minutes, and were right after dinner. Short, emotional, and well-timed. I’ve never experienced horrendous toasting first-hand, but if we had anyone in the line-up that we didn’t trust to keep it light and short, then we wouldn’t have had toasts at all!

  3. We had only two short toasts at our wedding (a group effort from both sides of the wedding party) and they were about 5 minutes each, not counting a less than a minute thank you to the guests on my part. They were memorable and awesome, and it’s the only time I shed a tear at the wedding (and I thought I was going to be a fountain!). It went over very well at our friends and close family-only reception. And I like hearing people talk about us. lol It might be a little selfish but I was very glad to hear what our friends had to say.

    I agree that the problem is that speeches aren’t often well done. They run long, use inside jokes only funny to two people or thrive on clichés. I say only do them if you’re confortable and the speakers are comfortable doing them.

    Another thing we did instead of opening up to floor to anyone for speeches was making it the “get the bride and groom to kiss” game. We told everyone they’d have to tell an anecdote about us, or at least one of us, instead of making noise with the glasses. It requires quite a lot of trust in your guests (and sometimes in your parents’ sense of humour), but it’s a lot of fun. Also, these anecdotes are usually kept short, since they happen during supper and everyone is keen on getting back to their plates.

  4. Great post! I agree with most of this in that toasts are really really hard to do well and really really easy to screw up – screw up meaning the bride and groom in their facilitation of them, the toast-giver, the vendor who has to work with the toast timing – it’s hard on everyone.

    We did have successful toasts at our wedding. We offered toast opportunities to our siblings (we knew our parents were too stressed out to be interested and our siblings would appreciate the honor because we weren’t doing formal bridesmaids/groomsmen). We told them to keep it short and be themselves, which was perfect guidance. We got a cute rhyming poem and presentation of an actual piece of toast! In terms of timing, our reception was a buffet which we opened during the first dance set and then we did the toasts after the people who were coming off the dance floor had an opportunity to take food. It was great because my husband had been really concerned about having an opportunity to eat food. The toasts were a perfect opportunity for him to eat, because no one was going to come over and congratulate us then, thereby interrupting the toasts.

  5. I love toasts. It is one of my most favorite parts of a wedding because (when done well) it reminds us of the reason that we are having an event. I have never been to a wedding where the toasts had a significant negative impact on the wedding. I saw some that ranged or weren’t amazing (and I have seen some go too long), but for the most part they really have been wonderful. One my most emotional moments with my fiance was when he gave a toast at his best friends wedding. It was amazing and showed me a part of my partner that I almost never see. We are just gonna be really structured and limit the toasts to 2-3 at the wedding and only for people who want to do it (we may do a couple others at the rehearsal dinner.)

  6. I was asked to give a toast at my brother’s wedding a couple of years ago. Almost all of the wedding party was too shy to speak in front of a crowd, a condition that I don’t suffer from. I gave a two minute at the longest speech that I had written beforehand and rehearsed well that included a quote that I felt really applied to my goofy brother and his wife. My mother read it beforehand in order to head off any awkwardness, and gave it the green light. The quote is now on the wall above their bed. They timed the speech just before the cake cutting at their outdoor reception, and I stood next to the cake table to speak; the speech was used to signal the cake being cut and then served. I guess my point is that if a toast is well thought out and timed well ( short and in a place that makes sense) they can be nice tributes to the couple. If people feel awkward about giving them, why force the issue? Totally a comfort level call.

  7. Why such a negative post? If toasts aren’t to your taste, fine, but it’s hard for me to imagine almost any other content on this blog with this kind of tone. (Imagine if you had a post about Tardis photo-booths / card boxes / save the dates written like this! Half the community would revolt).

    Anyway, hearing other peoples’ toasts is often one of my favorite parts of a wedding (when the toasts are well-done…) — they’re a chance to really stop and think about how amazing the people are who are getting married, and to recognize their quirks and hear funny and heartwarming stories that you might not know. A friend and I gave a joint toast at a dear friend’s rehearsal dinner last January, and I thought it was a huge honor and a really special moment to step back and reflect on 10 years of friendship.

    • Yea, I was surprised by the tone of the article too, especially the title. Can’t say I really remember any good or bad toasts from the few weddings I’ve been to. I think we’ll nix them, mostly because the crowd we’re inviting is not one for shows of sentiment.

    • Sometimes I like a good polemic. There used to be a lot more of them on the site, if you dig back in the archives.

      • But this isn’t constructively polemic. It’s judge-y and snarky and quite contrary to what I thought this site was about. There are a lot of other places on the internet I could visit to find deliberately combative and controversial headlines and arguments, but I come to OBB for positive discussion, ideas for what I *could* do (not for what I *shouldn’t* do), and, of course, great photos.

        • Offering alternatives for those who opt not to do toasts feels pretty constructive to me, but I totally respect that what feels like a playful polemic to us might not be a fit for every reader.

  8. When my best friend got married, I actually asked her if I could give a toast to the bride, and she seemed really happy. Sure, it was stressful writing it, but it was also an amazing way to carefully reflect on our entire friendship and choose parts that were funny and meaningful (both to us and hopefully the listeners) while at the same time welcoming her new husband~! There were about 5 speeches at her wedding – all were quite short and well thought out. The DJ
    (who gave my mom a ride home!) told my mom that the speeches were some of the best he’d ever seen at a wedding! I think the key is short and sweet, but also from your heart and personality. If you deliver something you are comfortable thinking and saying, it will be less nerve-wracking for you, and more enjoyable for everyone else.

    I kinda love toasts~!

  9. I literally JUST READ this part of the book.

    I have nothing to share except that.

  10. I almost got away with no toasts at my wedding but my FiL insisted on doing one – he was the Best Man and the reception was at his house so we couldn’t really say no.

    For a shy bride I think toasts are horrible. If you don’t like being the center of attention things like head tables and toasts can be a nightmare. Treat it like any other aspect of your wedding – if it doesn’t feel right or makes you uncomfortable then don’t do it!

    Maybe instead of having your family toast you, ask them to write letters that you and your partner can open and read on your anniversary as you eat stale freezer-burnt cake and remember how much love you felt on that day 🙂

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