The tradition of the wedding toast is an integral part of wedding celebrations. The honor of offering the first toast to the bride and groom or the newlywed couple typically falls to the best man who then passes off the toast to others in the wedding party. The groom often toasts his lovely new bride and family members may want to wish the happy couple long lives, good health, wealth, and perhaps many children.
Most toasts are short and witty or sentimental, like “A toast to love and laughter and happily ever after.” Although rhyming adds a bit of charm, it is not entirely necessary. Tasteful humor can bring a lighter touch to the occasion, such as “A toast to the groom—and discretion to his bachelor friends.” One can use the words of famous writers who have provided an ample supply of excellent toasts. Robert Browning wrote:
“Grow old with me!
The best is yet to be
The last of life
For which, the first is made.”
It is not uncommon for the wedding toast to take form as a brief story of “how I met the bride” or “how I introduced the newlyweds” thoughtfully laced with sweet or humorous anecdotes. Just keep in mind that the story should remain short and to the point, especially within a larger wedding where many others may wish to offer a congratulatory toast to the marrying couple. The best man would be well served to plan his toast ahead of time and even practice in private beforehand to avoid an embarrassing stumble or a nervous lapse of memory. The perfect wedding toast can draw both tears and laughter from the gathering of friends and family.
The term “toast” dates back to the 17th century when a piece of bread, or toast was floated atop the wine perhaps to improve the flavor or add a bite of nourishment. However, the practice of the ceremonial toast dates back as far as recorded time, sometimes required by law and other times prohibited or banned. Under the Emperor Augustus, Romans were required to offer toasts to his health, and other alleged attributes, for each course of the meal and, in Roman tradition, there were many. Yet, both Maximilian and Charles the Great banned the custom of toasting, whether due to the excessive drinking that usually ensued or the tediousness of poor or inept toasts. Nevertheless, the art of toasting has survived the tests of time even during Prohibition when toasting was frequently more potent and substantial than the legal drink. Although toasts can be political, poetical, topical, cynical, humorous, or romantic, the latter two are the most appropriate for a wedding ceremony. They can be toast to people, events, or just about anything one can imagine within the bounds of appropriateness for the occasion.