Perfecting the Art of the Whiskey Wedding Toast

By Amanda Schuster / March 23, 2018

Making a public speech is definitely an art form. Like most forms of art, there are masterpieces, and there are failures. This is especially true of the art of the wedding toast. This is the point in the party (weddings are, after all, just a big party, but with more obligations) when it’s appropriate to break out the good whiskey, address the guests, and wish the couple well on their continued lives together. Typically the toast is led by a member of the bride or groom’s family, the best man, the maid/matron of honor, and/or and all of the above. And sadly, more than typically, it becomes a total train wreck. Here’s how to avoid that catastrophe.

Don’t Get Too Personal

It’s appropriate to tell one or two amusing stories about the happy couple, but this should never be an occasion to dredge up a super embarrassing moment or past relationships. Is this a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) marriage or a long time ending to bachelorhood? Don’t bring the ex or any of the others into this. So it took a while to find Mr. or Mrs. Right. Leave the Wrongs behind because here is where the journey begins anew.

The wedding toast (image via laura burns/Flickr)

Instead, speak to the charms of the individuals and why those facets of their personalities clicked in the right places. One of my favorite wedding moments in recent years was when a best man poured the small assemblage of guests a bourbon and described how happy his best friend was after his first date with his future bride. There was a cute story about how uncharacteristically gushy he was for days after. He had realized his friend basically met the female equivalent of himself and even hours later, couldn’t wait to see her again. Awwwww.

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A gesture that is totally acceptable at this stage to lend a personal touch to the festivities is to bring a special whiskey from your own collection to pour during the wedding toast (that is, if there is enough to go around). An alternative is to select a unique and/or favorite whiskey for the happy couple as a special gift on their wedding day.

Don’t Get Too Emotional

We all love our friends. Sometimes alcohol reminds us just how much we love them. If you’re making a speech, don’t get “I love you” drunk. It makes everyone uncomfortable and you’ll forever be remembered for your sloppiness. If you’re in line to make a wedding toast and you really must consume, stick to highballs and other low ABV options till after the speech is made.

Avoid Clichés

Been there, heard that quotes from Winnie the Pooh, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, anything by the Beatles, anything from Shakespeare (yawn), “Stand By Me,” or for heaven’s sake, “You’ve Got a Friend.” You know these people. Talented individuals besides James Taylor have said wonderful things and sung gorgeous songs about love. Quote one of the couple’s real favorite songs, books, poems or movies instead.

When In Doubt, Reach For a Classic

Here are some charming, classic toasts and quotes to end the speech on a high note:

  • A toast to love and laughter and happily thereafter.
  • Down the hatch to a striking match!
  • Here’s to the bride and mother-in-law, here’s to the groom and father-in-law, here’s to the sister and brother-in-law, here’s to friends and friends-in-law. May none of them need an attorney-AT-law.
  • Marriage has teeth, and him bit very hot. – Jamaican Proverb
  • May their joys be as deep as the ocean, and their misfortunes as light as the foam. – Irish proverb
  • “Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you.” – Walter Winchell
  • “And then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I say yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.” – James Joyce
  • “You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “I found flaws and they were beautiful.” – Nayirah Waheed
  • “When you’re in love, nothing is so abstract or horrible that it can’t be thought of as cute.” – David Sedaris
  • If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape 100 years of sorrow. – Chinese proverb
  • C’est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour.” English translation: “That is love, to give away everything, to sacrifice everything, without the slightest desire to get anything in return.” – Albert Camus
  • Nick to Nora Charles: “I don’t need anything in the world, darling, but you… and a toothbrush.” – After the Thin Man
  • Ilsa: “Can I tell you a story, Rick?” Rick: “Has it got a wow finish?” Ilsa: “I don’t know the finish yet.” Rick: “Well, go on. Tell it. Maybe one will come to you as you go along.” – Casablanca
  • “Nothing seemed to matter anymore, didn’t care what I was headed for. Time was standing still, no one counted till, there came a knocking at the door. Love walked right in and drove the shadows away; love walked right in and brought my sunniest day. One magic moment, and my heart seemed to know that love said “Hello!” though not a word was spoken.” -George Gershwin, from “Love Walked In”

Cheers to to the happy couple!