The wedding toast is a long held tradition performed to wish the newlyweds good health and prosperity throughout their married life. The clinking of the glasses was done to ward off evil spirits. The speeches said during the wedding toasts express the collective feelings and wishes of everyone in attendance. Wine is used for toasting because its sweet taste represents everyone's wish for a sweet life for the newlyweds. The use of coffee, tea or water is prohibited, as this is considered bad luck and an insult to most guests.
When to Toast
Wedding toasts are given once all of the guests are seated and have been served their drinks at the reception. Toasts during less formal weddings are offered after everyone has gone through the receiving line and has been served a drink. At larger affairs, couples opt to do most of the toasting during the rehearsal dinner instead for practical reasons.
The tradition of clinking glasses evolved from the Greeks in 600 B.C. At gatherings, the host had to drink first to assure his guests that the wine was not poisoned, because at that time, the Greeks used to spike their enemies' drinks to silence them. Later, the Romans turned toasting into a gesture of good faith—to wish guests health and happiness. The term toast originated from the Roman practice of dropping a piece of burnt bread or "toast" into the wine, to temper some of the bad tasting wines.
Order of Toasts
Traditionally, the toast to the bride comes first, done by the best man, friend or close relative. Recently, it was replaced by a toast to both the bride and groom. The groom, then, responds to thank the best man, and adds a few words of affirmation for his new wife. He also thanks both of their parents and the bridesmaids. Next, the best man thanks him in behalf of the bridesmaids. Other friends and relatives can also follow with their own toasts. Lastly, the father of the bride rises to thank everyone in behalf of himself and his wife, and announces that the party can begin.
Non-traditional orders may begin with a toast to the newlyweds by the master of ceremonies. The groom can then respond to thank the MC and the guests, and a toast to his bride. The bride may also rise to thank her groom and their parents. The father of the bride may then propose a toast or the MC may introduce other friends, relatives or ushers to toast the happy couple. The wedding toasts end at some point, and the celebration begins.
Fill all the guests' glasses with wine, then fill yours last, before making a toast. The proper pouring order starts with the bride, the groom, the maid of honor, the parents of the couple and lastly, the best man. Hold the wine glass with your right hand and extend it straight out from your right shoulder. This is a friendly gesture showing respect and giving honor. After the guests repeat the last line of the toast, the take a sip of the wine.