Toast Speech

Toast speech among friends

A toast is a short speech to honor someone or celebrate an event. In either case, the tone should be upbeat so that the person being honored feels special, and the event is properly remembered. The distinction is often made between a brief toast and a longer toast speech.

Going to a party, dinner, or casual night on the town? If so, the chances are excellent that there will be a ritual raising of the glasses in honor of someone or something. The toast may be to celebrate a wedding or someone’s birthday or anniversary, a holiday, a promotion, a new house, or a new baby. In the absence of a specific occasion, guests may honor their host or simply the occasion of getting together with a toast. People love to raise a toast!

As with any type of public speaking, there are ways to give a toast. You can simply say “to ________” and allow others to clink glasses in agreement. However, if you are hopeful of making a bigger impact with your toast, here is our ultimate guide to toasting.

Why Is A Speech Called A Toast?

One theory that has credibility among the foodies of the world is that dried or spiced bread was added to wine to improve flavor and soak up some of the acidity. Now, one would be shocked to see a person throwing toast into glasses of wine or champagne.

Toast speeches in history
Peder Severin Krøyer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

What Is The Difference Between “Toast” And “Toast Speech”?

Often used interchangeably, there is a bit of a difference between a “toast” and a “toast speech.” Typically a toast is very brief, maybe even a few words. For example, when you hear a friend has recently gotten engaged, you might invite friends to raise a glass and simply say, “Congratulations!” or “To Ana and Brian.” Another common toast at the end of a week is to raise your glass and say, “Cheers!” Technically, that is a very short toast.

A toast speech says more about the person, couple, or event. Perhaps the most common event where toast speeches are given is at a wedding reception when some of those in the wedding party, such as the father of the bride, best man, or maid of honor, are invited to give a 3-5 minute speech about the happy couple that ends in a toast on their wedding day.

Toast speeches are common at retirement parties, anniversary gatherings, and other events, so do not assume these only occur at weddings.

What Is The Purpose Of A Toast?

The perfect toast can make a special day even more special, whether a wedding or an anniversary, promotion, or other event. It hopes to unify the group in some way, either by sharing inside jokes, special moments, or common memories or just by raising a glass in solidarity.

A great toast can range from very serious to incredibly silly. Whatever tone it takes, a truly excellent toast moves the emotions of those who are listening.

Birthday toast speech

What 3 Characteristics Should Be In A Toast?

A toast has three parts: identification, narration, and magnification. (Some people simply identify the parts as the introduction, body, and conclusion.)

Identification: The introduction tells everyone listening about your relationship with the honored guest and helps them relate to what you are about to say.

Instead of saying, “I am thrilled to be giving the maid of honor speech for my best friend Amy,” one might say, “As all of us friends and loved ones of Amy are feeling, I am thrilled to be able to stand beside Amy on her special day.” The second pulls the entire group in like they are part of the conversation rather than focusing on the speech givers relationship.

Narration: The narration is where you tell some short snippet stories that will engage the entire group and give them a glimpse into the person you are honoring. They can be funny, touching, or take listeners through a range of emotions. This is also the body of the speech.

Magnification: You can zero in on a trait or characteristic of the person or event you are celebrating and embellish or magnify it. For example, as you tell stories, you can stress the perseverance of an employee, the kindness of a parent or teacher, or the devotion of the new couple to each other.

You will then bring the toast to a conclusion. No one wants to end things awkwardly, leaving everyone hanging. Figure out how you will wrap it up cleanly.

Best man speech toast speech

What Are The Three Types Of Toasts?

  • Congratulations: The congratulations toast is often given at weddings, anniversaries, or other celebrations. For these occasions, who will speak to the crowd of guests is usually decided in advance. Wedding speeches can be given by the best man, maid of honor, father of the bride, and others. If you want to give a toast, make sure that your toast will be welcome prior to giving it by clearing it with the host. Having person after person giving long toasts during a wedding reception or event can easily get out of hand.
  •  Appreciation: As you are toasting something extraordinary someone has done, a few words of appreciation may be in order. A daughter might offer a toast to her parents on her graduation day, thanking them for their love and support. A groom on his wedding day might raise a glass to his groomsmen for loving and supporting him and to his lovely new bride.
  •  Remembrance: Often given at a celebration of life, a remembrance toast is a beautiful way to memorialize someone. If you are giving a toast of remembrance, share happy or upbeat stories or memories that people will likely relate to. Save the risqué stories for another time, not a public venue.

How Do You Propose A Toast In A Speech?

If you are giving a toast speech, it is pretty obvious how to do it. For example, as a member of the wedding party at a wedding ceremony, if you get up, grab a microphone, and have your drink in your hand, people assume you are proposing a toast.

In some situations, it can be less apparent. Then, you can wait for a natural pause in the conversation and get the attention of those gathered. “Can I have your attention? I would like to propose a toast to (name) for (reason).” In these less formal situations, keep it short and sweet.

Retiement speech to group

What Is Toast Speech and How Do I Prepare?

A toast speech is when you are tasked with saying words on someone’s big day. As you prepare your speech, here are some simple steps:

  • Ask yourself: What type of toast is it?
  •  Next, consider: Who will be attending (listening)?
  •  Brainstorm some ideas. Perhaps the first time you met, or some funny stories to share. Jot down some notes.
  •  Start your speech writing. Remember that often, less is more. You do not need to speak for a long time to give a touching and memorable speech.
  •  Write your speech down on note cards. This is more effective than reading from a piece of paper or trusting your memory. Speaking from memory is an especially bad idea if you worry you might get emotional.
  •  Practicing is especially important if you get nervous in front of groups.

What Are Some Examples Of Toasts?

You can offer up a toast on any special occasion. Some examples of toasts:

  • Bridesmaid Toast: “To the happy couple. May your life together be filled with love and happy moments.”
  • Best Man Speech: The best man speech usually includes explaining who you are and your relationship to the groom, telling a few anecdotes about your relationship, and wishing your best friend a lifetime of love and happiness with his new spouse. Short but sweet toasts may state something like “Cheers to my best friend and his new best friend, his beautiful bride.”
  • Parents of the Groom: During the rehearsal dinner, the mother and father of the groom often act as hosts. One of them should thank everyone for coming and give a toast to the happy couple.
  • Retirement Toasts: “May you have more fun in retirement than we did together at work.” “Enjoy your retirement and endless honey-do lists.” “We hope you enjoy many beautiful days of bad golfing. Just remember, the worse day of golf is better than the best day at work.”
  • Celebration of Life Toasts: “There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains.” – Anonymous. “May the roads rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back, may the sunshine warm your face, And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.” -Traditional Irish Blessing
Love quotes for wedding toast speech to bride

Why Do People Drink Alcohol When Toasting?

Toasting with alcohol dates back to Ancient Greece or Rome, when people would offer up wine to gods in exchange for good fortune. In modern times, people don’t insist on a toast made with alcohol. Whatever you happen to be drinking would suffice.

It is important to know that in some countries and cultures, it is considered bad taste to raise an empty glass during a toast. Do not need to drink your entire beverage during the toast, no matter what is in your glass. A simple sip is enough.

Pam Berg

A former English teacher and currently an elementary principal in a rural school, Pam has honed her speaking skills in the classroom and before professional groups. Pam enjoys sharing her insights about public speaking almost as much as she enjoys running, which she does daily.

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