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After all the excitement of the wedding ceremony, taking pictures, getting to the reception…a very important part of the wedding often gets overlooked – the Toasts. The traditional wedding toasts are usually about giving the bride and groom’s maid of honor, best man, parents, and other wedding party members an opportunity to salute them and raise a glass to their happiness.

While the toasts are usually very heartfelt and sometimes have some humor mixed in, most couples probably have no idea what’s coming their way and may feel some trepidation. In addition, the people giving the toasts can often get a little nervous about speaking in front of a group of people. Here are some tips for both the bride and groom and their toasters-to-be when considering when and how to plan out the toasts.

1. Toasts can be given at any point during the reception. There’s no perfect time, it’s just a matter of preference. But one idea to consider is that if you choose to serve alcohol at your reception and plan the toasts for later in the reception, alcohol may affect the content and length of those toasts. Immediately before or after the reception dinner is often the best time for giving the toasts, as most of the guests are already sitting, making it easier for the toaster to be seen and heard.

2. Open ended vs limited number – some couples prefer to limit the toasts being given to a few select people; usually the maid of honor and best man. Also, the parents of the bride and groom may be given the opportunity to speak. However, other couples choose to let any and all family members and guests who wish to speak an opportunity to get up and say a few words. Just keep in mind that if you want to keep your reception moving along, hosting an “open mic” night may slow things down a bit. If you do intend to limit the toasts, make sure you let your DJ or coordinator know that only certain people will be speaking.

3. Prepare your toast ahead of time – this advice is more for the maid of honor, best man, and family members who have been asked to speak. Too often, a toaster will try to “wing it” when giving their toast and too often, the toast devolves into a rambling story. Preparing a toast ahead of time and even rehearsing it in front of a friend will not only help you feel more comfortable with speaking in front of the other guests but will also help you avoid giving a boring, rambling speech.

4. Keep it sweet and keep it clean – some of the best speeches we have heard at receptions are sweet and from the heart. An especially heartfelt toast can move everyone to tears (photographers love to see people squirt tears!!). It’s also okay to mix in a few jokes or tell a funny story about the bride or groom, but remember who your audience is. Telling a story about an especially crazy party night in college may not go over well with the parents. If you’re going to have a little fun at the bride and groom’s expense, make it a funny, innocent story. The wedding reception is no time to air their dirty laundry.

5. Toast from the couple – some couples choose to give a toast of their own. Toasts to their parents, friends, family, and guests are a nice way of thanking them all for attending the wedding. Couples will sometimes give a toast after the very end of the reception as a way to thank everyone for coming and to officially end the reception. A bride and/or groom may also choose to toast their significant other, which can also be another very sweet touch.

In the end, remember that toasts can be fun, but should be given some thought, not only when planning when to give them during the reception but planning how long to dedicate to toasts, who will be giving the toasts, and what content is suitable. Above all else, make sure to remember that the toasts are meant to be fun, sweet, and a way to honor the bride and groom’s special day.

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