The toast is one of the highlights of any wedding feast but for Pagans and Wiccans it takes on an added element because we understand and believe that the words have power. So, while other wedding toasts may be heavy on the anecdotes and humor, Pagan wedding toasts should be heavy on the blessings.
When is this toast supposed to happen?
There may be several toasts; at the engagement party, the rehearsal dinner and the wedding feast, usually after the meal but before dessert and dancing. While I believe this is the best time, as everyone is fed, has had a few drinks and isn't looking at their watches yet, you can open with the toasts or have them after dessert if you prefer. If you have a lot of toasts, you may wish to scatter them throughout the meal. If you are having several courses, you could have someone give a speech/toast between each course. Of course if you're being totally informal about it all, toasts can be shouted out whenever the spirit moves.
Who gives the toast?
Sometimes there is just one toast offered by someone close to the couple, but there are often several. The maid of honor and best man traditionally each give a toast and then the couples' parents might. Random friends and family members may also chime in with planned and prepared toasts or totally unexpected off the cuff toasts. The more open the bar, the more of these you are likely to get.
Who exactly are they toasting?
The bride may be toasted by her new husband, her new family (welcoming her in) and her own parents or siblings. The groom may likewise be toasted in a similar manner. The couple should be toasted the most, however, celebrating and supporting their union and raining blessings on their heads.
What goes into a wedding toast
A wedding toast is both a declaration of support of the union and a blessing upon it. A good, formal wedding toast goes something like this-
Part 1- Declaration of support: I love you. I am so happy you found each other. What a great couple.
Part 2- Support for the declaration: This usually involves some sort of anecdote that illustrates what a great match the couple is. It could be humorous or heartwarming or both. It may be personal to the speaker, illustrating how the couple touched them personally, it may illustrate how much happiness the new spouse has brought into the life of the person the speaker has known longer or it may recollect a time when the couple had to overcome a difficult situation and did it by working together. Whatever it is, it should illustrate why, in the speaker's opinion, this is a good match deserving of their support and everyone else's.
Part 3- The blessing: This is the part where the speaker offers his or her hopes for the couple's future. Typical blessings include wishes for joy, happiness, cooperation, lots of children, prosperity, health, wealth, etc. There are traditional blessings that can be used, some of them rhyme. See links below.
Does a wedding toast have to be formal?
No. A wedding toast can also involve people shouting out random blessings and drinking to them. This is fun, relaxed and pretty cool. My favorite random shouted wedding toast is: "May you live in joy and dance at your granddaughter's wedding." Do consider the other guests. I was a little embarrassed at my own wedding feast when a friend of mine shouted out "May you always have good sex" in front of my grandparents who were already slightly traumatized by the invocation of Hera and Zeus. But yea, I want good sex.
Does a wedding toast have to be funny?
No, it does not, but it can be. If you want to inject some humor into your toast be sure that it is in good taste. I do not feel it is in good taste for jokes that shine a negative light on marriage or one anyone in the family or wedding party to be used in a wedding toast, but it happens.
What if I don't want to do a wedding toast?
Then don't. If you don't support the couple and can't imagine this marriage will last six months, don't say you do. Best actually to not say anything at all. If you are asked to give the toast, decline politely or if you can't bring yourself to do that, make it short and generic or recite a poem or something.
If you're just too shy to do a toast, think hard before declining. You may be surprised at what you're capable of when you challenger yourself. This could be a growing experience for you and just the fact that you're putting yourself out there is a wonderful gift to the couple you are supporting. If you absolutely do not want to do it and the very thought makes you want to wet yourself, don't worry. If you're asked, politely decline and ask if there's something more "behind the scenes" you could do to help out.
If it's your wedding and you'd rather skip the toast; skip it. It's your wedding.
Online Wedding Toast Resources
Irish Toasts and Blessings
In my opinion, the Irish have the best wedding toasts suitable for a handfasting feast. Some of them may need a little adaptation.