Toasting Etiquette

Toasting EtiquetteToasts vary from the casual “Here’s looking up your old address!” to more formal occasions like wedding toasts. What you can get away with at a bar with friends isn’t quite the same as what’s needed for that serious, proper toast. Here are a few etiquette ins and outs from Nalley Honda to help keep you from making an “I Love You Man” moment.

Who’s on First?

If you’re at a formal event, don’t just jump up and start blabbing. The first rule of toasting etiquette is determining who goes first. If you’re at a dinner or other non-wedding event, the host always sets the pace. The host ensures that everyone’s glass is full and then, at their discretion, makes the first toast of the evening. If you’re at a wedding, the best man toasts the bride and groom. Typically, other members of the wedding party add their toasts before anyone else.

Stand and Deliver

You should always stand to give your toast. Make sure you have the room’s attention before you begin. Your toast should be heartfelt. It can be long or short, but don’t drone on for more than a minute or two at the most. The three B’s apply: begin, be brief and be seated. Make sure people know when you’re finished. End on a positive note and add a “Cheers!” or raise your glass a little higher to signal that you’re done.

If you are the subject of the toast, remain seated, don’t drink to yourself and do your best to look humbly moved.

To Clink or Not to Clink

If you’re in a small group where glass clinking doesn’t require acrobatics or crawling across the table, go for it. If you’re in a large group, raise your glass a little higher in salute and take a sip. Never chug after a toast.

What to Drink

Traditionally, toasts are done with wine or champagne, but if you don’t have any don’t worry. Use whatever you have. Water works too.

But I Don’t Wanna…

Too bad. Etiquette requires you to join in. Raise your glass if you’re at the table, and if you’re asked to give a toast, you can always trot out one of these short but simple toasting staples:

  • May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, but never catch up.
  • May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.
  • May the road rise up to meet you.
  • May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you and heaven accept you. 
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