History of the Wedding Toast
Ironically, the cheerful clinking of glasses before drinking evolved from one of the darker practices of distant history. The custom dates back to the Middle Ages, when people were so distrustful of one another that they weren’t above poisoning anyone they perceived as an enemy. As a safeguard, drinkers first poured a bit of wine into each other’s glass, acting as mutual “tasters.” Trustworthy friends, however, soon dispensed with the tastings and merely clinked their glasses instead. This custom is said by some to explain why “to your health” is the most common toast worldwide. Some other historians hold that clinking glasses provided the noise that would keep evil spirits at bay.
So, where does the word “toast” come from? In the ale houses of Elizabethan England, a bit of spiced toast was usually put in the bottom of a cup of ale or wine to flavor it, and possibly to soak up the dregs. In time, any male or female whose qualities or accomplishments were frequently honored with a group drink came to be called “toasts” (hence the phrase “toast of the town”). One story-attributed, in a 1706 edition of The Tatler, to “many Wits of the last Age”-claimed that “toast” was first used in this manner during the reign of Charles II (1660-1684).That label, it was said, was bestowed on a well-known belle from the town of Bath. As the beauty luxuriated in the healthful waters of the public baths, an admiring gentleman scooped a little bath water into a cup, added the customary piece of toast, and raised the cupful of water to her before drinking it.
The word “toast” as used today, “a sentiment expressed just before drinking to someone”, did not begin to gain popularity until the early 1700s.
From Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition. This book has a comprehensive wedding etiquette section as well as a general etiquette information we can all use in our everyday lives. It’s a book that should be on every shelf. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission. Find more Wedding Toasts and Speeches here.
Top 6 Rules For Giving The Perfect Wedding Toast
The reception is usually the most anticipated part of the wedding celebrations. But if you are expected to deliver a wedding toast, it may be the most nerve-racking part of the day. Looking for some advice? Here are the top six rules for giving the perfect wedding toast and wowing guests.
Rule #1. Keep it short
I can almost guarantee you that no one has ever left a wedding and said, “Great speech, if only it was longer.” But they do complain about toasts that seem to drag on and on. Keep it short, sweet and simple. Now is not the time to wow wedding guests and the newlywed couple with your wide vocabulary and ability to use analogies every sixty seconds for ten minutes. Aim for around two to three minutes.
Rule #2: Don’t be dirty
You may be super close with the newlyweds and bridal party and know all of their dirty little secrets, but that doesn’t mean everyone else wants to know. Not only does telling dirty jokes about personal experiences make for an awkward situation, but it is really embarrassing for the people involved; especially if you are talking to an older crowd.
Rule #3: Don’t try to be (too) funny
Sure you want everyone to have a good laugh, but trying too hard to be funny usually ends in dry moments that make the person giving the speech nervous. Be natural and stay true to yourself. It’s usually speeches that are delivered genuinely that evoke the most emotion. Most of time the speech will get a laugh or two anyway without even trying. However, I suggest thinking of something that makes you laugh before your speech so you are sure start the toast with a smile instead of a look of pure panic. To put yourself at ease, try asking close family and friends beforehand to lead the applause or laughter at appropriate times. That way you will know, that you never have to worry about hearing pins dropping during your speech throughout the venue.
Rule #4 Only give sober speeches
It may be an open bar, but there’s no need to have as many mixed drinks as you can get your hands on before delivering the speech. The last thing you want to do is give a wedding speech full of slurs and mispronounced words. How about you save the celebratory drinks for the toast at the end of your speech? The wedding guests will thank you. If you must fill up on something, try sipping on some water or eating a light snack to help calm your nerves.
Rule #5: Just speak from the heart
I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s truly the best way to give a compelling and crowd pleasing speech. If you are the one giving the toast, chances are you have a very close relationship with the wedding party and can pull from touching experiences to inject into your speech. Honest speeches from the heart are the ones that leave a lasting impression.
Rule #6: Stay away from clichés
Everybody knows that communication is essential to a successful marriage. There is no need to beat guests over the head with it in the speech. Clichés make for very boring and generic speeches. Make your toast more personable by ensuring it is unique to the couple and the wedding party.
Are You Ready to Give the Ultimate Wedding Toast? Good Luck.