Toasts seem like a pretty easy part of wedding planning. You choose a couple of people to say a few words, everyone takes a swig of champagne (yes a swig… I never claimed to be refined), the party goes on.
Most of the time, this is what happens. But I’ve also been to enough weddings to see some crazy stuff go down when it comes to speeches. Most of the time, it’s stuff that could have been prevented.
You might be wondering why I’d be giving tips about toasts, since I am but a humble photographer. Here’s why:
A. toasts that go on for a super long time can affect your photos/timing
B. I care about my couples having a good time and things going well for them.
So that said, here’s my best wedding toast advice to make sure it all goes well for you:
PARE IT DOWN
One of the easiest ways to keep toasts from getting too crazy is to limit them. I know it’s hard. You want all of your closest friends and family to feel important. But there are other ways you can include them: like asking them to help with a DIY project, inviting them to get ready with you, or having them to do a reading during your ceremony. A toast isn’t the only way to make people feel valued.
So how many people should toast? It really depends on how long the toasts are going to be, but I would definitely suggest no more than 3-4. I’ve also seen “co-toasts” (I just made that up) where a couple people will plan a toast and read it together. It can be really nice, and is usually shorter than two whole separate ones. Which brings us to the next point…
No, not perimeters. Parameters–specifically, ones related to time. If you tell each toaster they have 5-7 minutes because of time constraints, they should want to respect that. Honestly, they’ll probably be relieved that you don’t expect them to talk for an hour. If no limit is given, it can really get out of hand (I’ve seen single toasts that run 30-60 minutes.) If you want to avoid that, just communicate honestly about time with your toasters beforehand!
BREAK ‘EM UP
It’s usually nicer to break the toasts up a little, so they’re not all happening rapid-fire one after another. You can do a couple right at the start of dinner or after your first dance, and then another couple in the middle of dinner. You’ll still have a captive audience, but this way people get a little break in between. Just be sure not to have them too late: sometimes toasters get nervous and will have a few too many drinks which can make things interesting (not necessarily in a bad way, but sometimes in a bad way). Just make sure that if you spread them out, your photographer will still be there.
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE
I’m very proud of the headline above, just to let you know. But anyway–this tip relates to photos. In general it’s better for photos to have the toaster stand by the couple (you) rather than across the room. That way I can get everyone in the frame. If that doesn’t make sense logistically, at least have them stand in a place other than right in front of the DJ. It’s not the best background for photos (no offense to your DJ).
CHOOSE PEOPLE YOU TRUST
This seems obvious, but choose people you have a good relationship with. I know family relationships can be complicated, but you also want to make sure your wedding day is positive, and that includes the things that are said about you on the day. I always suggest being as open as possible–so if there’s a particular memory or part of your past you really don’t want brought up and you suspect it might be, you can always have a quick conversation with your toasters about it.
KNOW THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE THEM
Toasts are really nice, but you don’t have to have them. I’ve shot many weddings where the couple chose not to have them, for various reasons. It’s your wedding, so you should do what makes you happy and comfortable.
If you have questions, you can leave them below!