How to Propose a Toast to Commemorate and Celebrate
There are occasions when you may be asked to say a few words to commemorate an event or a person. Giving a speech at such an occasion, especially if the mood is festive, would not only be entirely unwelcome and a bore but also not appropriate for the context.
So, what can you do? Give a toast of course!
By definition, proposing a toast involves wishing a person or people future success, happiness and health and asking others to raise their glasses and join in a drink.
Toasts are diverse in that they can be given at retirement parties, awards dinners, weddings, birthdays, thanksgiving ceremonies and engagement parties, among others. They can be made over festive beverages such as wine, sparkling cider or champagne, as well as any other beverages.
If you are ever called upon to share a few words to add a personal touch to any social gathering, here are a few tips to help you propose a toast that will not only mark the special occasion but also be memorable.
Before we look at them though, do you know what a toast comprises of?
Structure of a Toast
A toast is made up of:
- The Greeting
Here you’ll stand and ask the audience to stand (not compulsory) and fill their glasses, after which, you get to address them.
- The Proposal
Here, you’ll raise your glass and give your proposal. This may be something along the lines of, “I would like to propose a toast…”
- The Body
This, just like in a speech, is the most important part. It should be made up of a few sentences that talk about the persons in question.
This is where you pay homage to the toast’s subject. This could be something along the lines of, “Please join me in a toast to…”
- The Declaration
This represents the climax, which honors the subject of the toast and summarizes the said toast. After this, drinks can then be taken.
We can now look at:
Tips on Preparing for a Toast
We will begin by looking at what you should do in preparation for the toast.
Plan your toast in advance
Say you’ve been chosen to give a toast as the best man at your brother’s wedding, would you prefer to not prepare and fumble on the big day, thus disappointing him or plan what you’ll say in advance, thus allowing you to confidently relay a heartfelt message to the newlyweds?
I think everyone would prefer the latter, which is why it would be immeasurably better to prepare in advance.
Putting some thought to what you’ll say when giving a toast not only makes you sound sincerer but also prevents you from rambling on.
Pro-Tip: A good basis for planning a toast would be to ask yourself:
- What/who is being toasted?
- What is the reason for the toast?
- What type of event will the toast be given at?
- Who will be in attendance?
Choose what format you’ll use
Here, you can decide whether to give a classic set toast or write up an original toast from scratch.
You should keep in mind though that the best kind of toast is one which merges an original introduction that talks about the attendees and the occasion its being presented in, with a classic toast.
Ever heard of a simple three-point structure?
This structure allows you to make use of any three values or qualities that have importance in the lives of your friends and family.
After deciding on the qualities you’ll be focusing on, illustrate each quality with a story or an event from the past, to help deliver your message to your audience.
Choose being sincere over being humorous
When drafting a toast, it’s better to be sincere rather than try to be funny.
Humor isn’t easy to deliver well, particularly with a diverse and large crowd. So instead, include sincere tidbits in your toast.
Additionally, you should note that in comparison with an ill attempt at humor, you can never go wrong with a sincere toast, which is more likely to be remembered.
Make use of notes
Planning in advance may also require you to write your key message down, and while you may be tempted to scribble this onto any piece of paper that on hand, don’t.
Instead, you can use a 3x5 card to write your notes on, tidily. Ensure that your writing is bold and large, to allow you to read your words more easily.
If you usually use glasses to read, try practicing reading the notes with your glasses on. This will ensure that you deliver your toast smoothly.
Keep your toast short
While planning your toast, you should remember to keep it short. Remember, it’s a celebration, and no one wants to hear you talk for over 10 minutes when they could be having a good time relaxing and enjoying themselves.
Therefore, keep it anywhere between under a minute to a couple of minutes but try to not go over five minutes.
Pro-Tip: Droning on diverts the audience’s attention. You should therefore try speaking in short sentences.
When Giving a Toast
On the day of the celebration, when giving your toast, you should:
Before beginning, make your intentions known
Being party to a large gathering or party may make it difficult to know the right time to make your toast.
So, how can you get everybody’s attention?
You can wait until everyone else has gotten their food, as most if not all individuals will be seated, before beginning.
Alternatively, you can raise your glass to shoulder level and say something like, “If I can have everyone’s attention.”
Please do not try clanging your glass with a utensil, as it may break the glass and it isn’t very tasteful.
Pro-Tip: Ensure you make your intentions clear using your words.
Begin with the obvious
When you’ve gathered together, either with your work colleagues or your family for a celebration, you’ll most likely be sharing the same physical space with your audience.
Despite experiencing the same setting, each individual in the space is thinking of different things in their mind. Therefore, as the toast maker or the master of ceremony, your first task before giving your toast would be to connect with your audience.
The best and easiest way to establish this connection would be talk about why you’ve all gathered together to begin with.
Beginning with the obvious allows everyone to share the same mental space. By giving voice to the shared experience, you forge a feeling of unity which allows you to bring the audience together.
Share something about yourself
Now that your audience is thinking about the same thing, telling them a short story about yourself that’s relevant to the situation will help consolidate their focus on you.
By revealing something personal about yourself, you establish trust. This allows your audience to be more open to what you have to say and feel open positively.
Acknowledge individuals who aren’t present
While giving a toast, make a point to acknowledge any dear friend or family member who’s missing from the celebration and note that you miss them.
Ensure you do this at the start of your toast, as it may make people solemn.
You can then move on to joyful accomplishments to help lighten the mood.
Show your emotions
Your friends and family will probably be emotional, especially if your toast mentions a loved one who passed away or couldn’t be there with you to celebrate.
If you do get emotional while delivering this part of the toast, remember that its totally normal and understandable.
However, if you’re concerned that you may not be able to deliver the toast well because of it, you can practice that part of your toast a few times.
Ensure that everyone is involved and has a drink
Toasts should be inclusive, which means no one should be left out, such as non-drinkers or children.
The aforementioned individuals can be provided with child-friendly or non-alcoholic drinks to ensure everyone is part of the toast.
Pro-Tip: Make sure everyone is present before giving your toast. This will prevent any interruption mid-toast or awkward glances shared when someone walks in during the climax of your toast.
Ensure you end your toast clearly
You may have been party to a toast that ended vaguely, which left the audience unsure whether the speaker had finished.
Therefore, when concluding your toast, you should make it clear and show everyone what they should do after.
You can say something to the effect of, “Raise your glass as we celebrate…” then guide your audience by clinking your glass with somebody next to you or taking a sip from your glass.
Pro-Tip: If it’s a large gathering, take a sip from your glass, as this is more preferable. However, if it’s a small gathering, clinking glasses is more celebratory.
We’ve talked about what you should do, now let’s look into what you shouldn’t do.
What NOT to Do When Giving a Toast
Do not drink before giving your toast
If you’re feeling a little nervous before the toast, try to engage in some breathing exercises to help calm you down.
However, refrain from drinking alcohol to give you courage. This is because you may end up drinking too much and losing your judgement.
Additionally, you may lose track of time if you are inebriated.
So instead, lay off the alcohol till after you’ve given your toast.
Do not give your toast before the host
If you are not the event’s host, do not give a toast before they’ve given theirs.
However, if it’s been mutually agreed upon, then go for it.
If not, hold your horses!
Ensure you don’t embarrass anyone
If you’re toasting to a friend or family member at a wedding or celebrating someone’s achievement, you may be tempted to include an embarrassing tidbit in order to make the audience laugh.
This may make the person in question or the crowd, uncomfortable. So, unless you’re absolutely sure that your story’s a winner, remain on a positive note.
We’ve looked at what you should and shouldn’t do before and after giving your toast as well as during your delivery, which means that we can now look at a few toast examples.
Proposing a Toast (Examples)
A promotion toast
Say for example, your colleague, Mark, is moving up the work ladder, what would you say to them?
A good example of a promotion toast would be,
“Mark, as you move up the ladder to success, may more doors open for you and may the opportunities be endless, to your promotion!”
A wedding toast
A wedding is a special and happy occasion. Additionally, it’s a time for merry making and generally having a good time. You should therefore ensure that your toast is short.
A wedding toast may be something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, will you please join me now in toasting to the lovely couple. We wish them all the happiness, wealth and health in the world, to the happy couple!”
An engagement toast
An engagement toast should focus on the couple’s relationship and their future together.
You can say something to the effect of, “For years, we’ve seen you two grow closer together and your relationship grow as well. As we celebrate this milestone, we wish you happiness and more blessings, to the happy couple!”
A college graduation toast
When giving this toast, giving a little background on the person may help the audience who aren’t as well acquainted with him to learn more about the said individual.
For instance, you could start by saying, “I would like to propose a toast to my daughter, Leila, who has finally graduated with her PhD in Physics from…Leila has been interested in rockets ever since she learned about astronauts and the moon landing...”
You can then end with the words, “I know you’re all anxious to congratulate Leila in her own way, so to Leila!”
Summing it up…On Giving Toasts
When giving a toast, keep in mind that delivering a short but heartfelt message is all that’s required of you. I hope these tips will help, Mazel tov!
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