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When you are the toastee

Q. At a wedding, when the bride and groom are being toasted, do they take part in the toast along with everybody else?

T. O., Peterborough, NH

A. This is a great personal question which raises the issue of toasting at business events as well. Interestingly, the answer to this question is the same as for toasts in all situations: the person being toasted—bride and groom, honoree, retiree—does not drink along with everyone else. The honoree(s) stays seated, smiles, and after the toast can nod a thank you to the toaster. It is then permissible, though not required, that the toastee becomes the toaster. It’s the perfect time for the toastee to thank the toaster for the toast, the attendees for coming to the event, or to single out a person who is especially important. The bride or groom might toast their parents or each other. An honoree or a retiree could toast the manager, CEO or the people he or she worked with.

Typically, the host toasts first, especially at receptions and other large functions. It’s optional whether the guests stand or remain seated.

Other tips for toasting:

Keep it short. One to two minutes maximum. Any more and you’ll have everyone squirming in their seats.

Prepare ahead of time. Don’t think you can just wing it. Write out your remarks ahead of time.

Practice, practice, practice. Do it in a room where you can close the door and speak out loud. Get used to the sound of your voice, and let your mouth get used to shaping the words. You’ll also become familiar enough with your toast that you won’t need to read it, you can speak it. You’ll sound more genuine. You can write a few bullet points on a note card to refer to when giving your toast.

Avoid personal stories, especially if they might be embarrassing to the honoree. A reminiscence, praise, or a relevant story is fine as long as it’s in keeping with the occasion.

Avoid excessive drinking ahead of time. Mix your nervousness with some alcohol and you have a recipe for a disaster.

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