10 Great Tips for Wedding Toasts

Wedding Advice

As a wedding photographer I’ve seen and heard a lot of wedding toasts and speeches in my time. Some good, some bad and a few that were exceptional.  So I definitely think I’m pretty well placed to give a few tips and advice on how to deliver a great wedding toast.  I previously posted about when to do the wedding speeches, but here I’ll tell you more about wedding toasts and how to deliver them.

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom and wedding party laughing during the wedding speeches

History of Wedding Toasts

It’s been argued that wedding toasts date all the way back to the 6th century BC. Glasses would be raised and clinked – causing the contents to spill into one another’s vessels, a reassurance that the drink wasn’t poisoned.  This is most probably what the phrase “good health” comes from.

The wedding link would come from the old tradition of warring tribes and conflicts being ended by marriages between clans – and thus toasting was then a reassurance of peace on all sides.

The term ‘toast’ itself was first coined by Shakespeare in the Merry Wives of Windsor.  It was common practice around this time for a piece of actual toast to be placed in a glass of wine, as a way of of soaking up acidity of the win and making an old piece of stale bread more edible.  The person(s) being honoured would often receive the saturated piece of toast.  Thankfully, this seems to be a tradition that is no longer undertaken during modern weddings, but the idea of wedding toasts still prevail to this day.

So how to ensure you get a wedding toast right?  Here are my 10 tips to help with you wedding toast.

#1 Be Topped Up

Make sure you glass is full and that the wedding party all have their glasses topped up.  This may sound obvious, but you be amazed the number of weddings I’ve been too where a bride, a groom or even the toaster doesn’t have a filled glass to toast with – then everyone has to wait around whilst a bottle to top up with is found.

#2  Be Right…Quite Literally

Ensure you toast using your right hand, which you should be stretched out from the right shoulder towards the person(s) being honoured.  Dont over extend your arm though – nothing looks worse than a trembling arm and contents being spilt.

#3 Short & Sweet

Keep the toast short. 3-5 minutes is considered a good length if you’re delivering a speech.  Anything longer can start to sound a bit too rambling and guests quickly get bored and fidgety.

#4 Rehearse

That’s right, practice really does really make perfect. Run it out a few times before the day, preferably to someone who can tell you what they think.  The more used to it you are, the much smoother it will be done on the day.

#5  Ad-Lib

Make some notes – preferably a few bullet points you can talk around, rather than a number of pages of a word-by-word script.  You’ll sound a lot more natural and what’s more, watching someone read from a script, in an awkward monotone, can be quite boring for everyone.  This follows on naturally to…

#6 Be You

It’s much better to be yourself, rather than what you think you need to be.  If you’re not an extrovert joker or an insightful poet, then don’t pretend to be.  At a wedding everyone is on your side, so be yourself and be personal.

#7  It’s Not All About You

Remember, the wedding toast or speech is not all about you – it’s about honouring someone.  It’s not an audition for Britian’s Got Talent or an opportunity for you to show how really funny you think you area.  Focus on who you are honouring.

#8  The Granny Test

You should really steer away from inside jokes or stuff that happened twenty years ago when you were kids.  It might be really funny for a few close friends or relatives, but for the vast majority of guests they’re just not going to get it.  And speaking of humour, remember guests could include young children and elderly relatives.  Whilst your joke about the razor, the sheep and the naked groom on the stag night is hilarious, is it something you would ordinarily tell your grandmother?  If not, leave it out.

#9 Breathe

Yes, before you start just take a deep breath.  It will slow you down and calm your nerves.  If you’re not used to speaking in front of people, you’ll often speak faster than you realise you are – so try and slow it down. It’s not a sprint to be finished as soon as possible.

#10 Make The Toast!

And remember at the end of toast, get everyone to join in with you raising a glass to and toasting the honoured person(s).  It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen a wedding speech where the actual toast is forogtten about in the relief of ending the speech!  Remember, the final toast is the traditional way of ending the formal part of the wedding day and signaling the fun, party bit is about to start!

Ashridge House wedding photography of he wedding party raising their glasses in toast to the beautiful bride

So I hope these tips help you.  The wedding toast is an important and traditional part of the wedding day so appreciating why you are doing it and getting it as right as possible will be appreciated by the couple.

If you’d like to chat with me about your wedding plans then I’d love to hear from you.  You can call/text me on 07920 422144. Alternatively, you can send me a message via my contact page.

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom and wedding party laughing during the wedding speeches

Back In The Day: The Groom’s Speech

Back in the Day

A random look back through my wedding photography archives

It was a cold and wet October day at the Marriott Meon Valley Hotel, near Southampton, for Sam and Kevin’s small and intimate Hampshire wedding. Yet, despite the damp weather outside, there were laughs a plenty inside, as this image of Kevin delivering his Groom’s speech ably demonstrates.

As a wedding photojournalist I love capturing these kind of real moments and genuine emotions of a wedding story.

Are you getting married at the Meon Valley in Hampshire, or elsewhere, and like my natural storytelling approach to wedding photography? Then I’d love to hear all about your wedding plans. You can call me now on 07920 422144 or send me a mail via my Contact Page. I look forward to hearing from you.

One of the best Northamptonshire documentary wedding photographers captures a young boy playing during the wedding toasts and speeches at Grendon Lakes, Northamptonshire

Why I Love This Image: The Boy Beneath The Table

Why I Love This Image

A wedding is just a fun playground for kids!

Kids are great at weddings, certainly from a wedding photojournalism perspective.  In many ways they epitomise everything that documentary wedding photography is: unposed, spontaneous and full of fun.  After all, it’s the real story of your wedding as it happens that I capture.

Take this young boy, from Hollie and Dan’s Grendon Lakes wedding photography in Northamptonshire.  He doesn’t care about the wedding speeches or the toasts, no.  He’s far more interested in the table decorations that have fallen on the floor – they look far more fun and interesting!

Of course, the fact that the bride and groom are enjoying the wedding speeches and are seemingly oblivious to a child’s world of fun and adventure going on beneath the head table makes the image even more amusing and brings a smile to my face every time I look at it.

Having spotted this happening, I manoeuvred myself into a better position and waited for him to starting playing with the MR letters – after all, he was quite a young and charming mister!

Given the potential for the clutter to being a tad distracting it was definitely a wedding moment that I knew was going to be black & white.

Weddings are often a mix of chaotic fun and more formal moments.  That’s why a wedding photojournalism approach is such a natural way to capture the real and authentic wedding story.  You could never set such a natural happening scene up and you could never get that young boy to do as you wanted.  Thats why ensuring the integrity of the moment is so important in capturing authentic wedding stories. I want to make them as unique to you as you both are. It’s your day. Your story. Your way.

As a wedding photojournalist you put simply put yourself inside the moment and anticipate the story that’s about to happen. It’s not about getting the perfect shot, it’s all about getting the perfect moment. For that you need to see and feel what you are shooting. It’s why wedding photojournalism delivers the most natural and stunning memories from your day without you even being aware it was happening.

And that’s why I love this image.


My Why I Love This Image series hopefully gives you more of an insight of why I took particular images, their context and my thought processes. As a wedding photojournalist I strongly believe in providing an open, honest and transparent explanation of the photography I capture.


Contact Me

Love this image too and are getting married? Or maybe you are having a Grendon Lakes wedding in Northamptonshire? Then I’d love to talk with you about your wedding plans and how my wedding photojournalism approach can capture the real story of YOUR wedding day. Call me on 07920 422144 or send me an email here.


Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom and wedding party laughing during the wedding speeches

When Should The Wedding Speeches Take Place?

Blog Article, Wedding Advice

When should we do the wedding speeches?

As a wedding photographer one of the things I often notice that wedding couples often can’t decide upon is when to do the wedding speeches.  Then, of course, it’s also one of those things that some couples never really think about – not realising there are actually pros and cons on when to do the speeches.

So here are my views and tips on when to have the wedding speeches during the wedding day – solely from myview as an experienced and professional wedding photographer.

1. Before the wedding breakfast.

Rowton Castle Wedding Photography of the groom laughing out loud, during the speeches in the Cardeston Suite

This is becoming increasingly popular. Undertaking the wedding speeches and toasts before anyone starts eating often means those who are doing the speeches can get them done and then enjoy the wedding breakfast without the nerves and apprehension of a speech to come. After all, you’ve put a lot of thought into the menu and paid a lot of money for it and this approach ensures everyone gets to enjoy it.  The downside of doing the speeches first is that it does give an impression of getting them out of the way – that they’re something to be rushed and done before the important issue of eating starts!  The other problem is that often guests are still a bit more formal and introverted at the start – so they can be a harder crowd to play to!

2. After the wedding breakfast.

Harlestone Village Institute wedding photography of the bride and groom being toasted by the guests during the wedding speeches

This is the traditional and widely accepted time. Food has been eaten, drink has been quaffed and now it’s time to enjoy and be entertained by the wedding speeches. Well, except for those about to stand up and do the speeches – who most probably have been dreading it all the way through the wedding breakfast and haven’t enjoyed the food and drink like everyone else.  But, equally, because drinks have been flowing, the guests are more warmed up and maybe more receptive to a good speech. Of course, the other side of the coin is that they are a little too warmed up and more likely to get a bit too interactive with the speeches.  But still, it’s the traditional time of the day that your guests will expect the speeches to be done.

3. During the wedding breakfast.

Holiday Inn Brighton wedding photography of best man making his speech during the wedding ceremony, caught on a mobile phone

As a wedding photographer this is the one I am seeing a little more these days. Couples are now doing the speeches inbetween the main course and the dessert – almost as a happy medium between the two approaches above. I guess this allows those doing the speeches to enjoy some of the meal without the thought of a speech hanging over them and guests have been partially fed and knocked back a few. I’ve even heard of weddings where a speech has been done inbetween each of the courses! Of course, the downside here is it does draw out the wedding breakfast for your wedding guests and, if the speeches do ramble on, they can end up waiting an age for their next course.

Ultimately though there is no right or wrong way really. It’s simply about choice and what suits you both best for what is your wedding day.  The important thing is just to remember you do have the choice and to think it through.

Are you looking for a wedding photojournalist?

If you are getting married and would like a wedding photographer who will approach you wedding day in a natural, candid and unobtrusive way then I would love to talk with you about your wedding plans.  Please do give me a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message here and I’ll be delighted to get back to you.