Basic Toast Etiquette

Toasts are common in weddings, business luncheons or receptions and formal dinner parties. Learn what is proper and what is not when it comes to toast etiquette.

The first toast should be given by the host of the event, whether it's the company president or the host of the party. At a wedding reception, toast etiquette dictates that the best man gives the first toast. It is never good manners for the person giving the toast to be tipsy or drunk, so if you are the lucky speaker, save the drinking for after the speech.

When you are giving a toast, it is proper for you to stand with your full glass raised to get everyone's attention. It's never appropriate to tap on your glass with a utensil. Don't begin speaking until everyone is looking at you and the room is somewhat quiet.

The toast speech is generally very short and succinct. Most business toasts summarize why everyone is gathered, highlight accomplishments or well wishes and a closing. At the closing, hold your glass higher and face the entire group. Ask them to stand with you to toast either the recipient or the occasion. When the toast is finished, it is proper for the recipient of the toast to stand, without drinking, and say a few words. If the toast is on behalf of an event or a large group, the program can continue as planned.

If you are participating in a toast, make sure that your glass is at least 2/3 full for the toast. It is considered bad toast etiquette to toast with an empty glass. Don't raise your glass until the speaker asks everyone to stand or raise a glass. Also, it is not necessary to clink glasses with everyone nearby during a toast. While it is appropriate to do so if it is a small party, in a large group it is perfectly fine to simply raise the glass and then drink. It is never a good idea to not participate in a toast. If you are present at the event, you should participate in any toasts given while there.

Alcohol is the traditional drink used for toasts, but any drink will do, including punch, sparkling fruit soda or even soft drinks. When a toast is over, it's never good manners to applaud. You are signifying your agreement with your actions at the toast.

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Giving a toast is one of those basic skills everyone should possess. It is, however, a rarely-used skill for most of us; most people aren't often called on to give toasts, which makes it a nerve-racking experience, especially if you are being asked to do so for the first time. Luckily, if you follow some basic rules, chances are that everything will go just great.

Making a toast or speech that is simple, heartfelt and memorable is easy to do if you follow this step-by-step process and give yourself plenty of time to practice the speech.

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