Wedding traditions vary depending on a lot of factors including culture, family and religion. Ultimately, though, it will come down to what the bride and groom want to do when celebrating their special day. If you're a member of a wedding party, you might be wondering what your role will be when it comes to making a toast. The best thing to do is talk it over with the bride or groom, but in the meantime, here are some general rules for a traditional wedding:
Father of the Bride: The Father of the Bride typically makes the first toast at the reception, so it's his job to welcome all the guests and thank them for attending. He should also acknowledge the Mother of the Bride and the parents of the groom. Often he will tell a cute, funny or (slightly) embarrassing memory of the bride, and then give the couple a bit of wisdom or advice on the subject of marriage. A bad "dad" joke or two would not be amiss, provided that they are not lewd or mean-spirited.
Father of the Groom: The Father of the Groom is often invited to speak next. It is his job to welcome the bride into the family and comment on how great she looks (appropriately.) Typically he then tells an anecdote or two about the bride and groom as a couple.
Maid of Honor: It's the Maid of Honor's job to give a little inside scoop on the couple. She should open with how she knows the bride, and talk up the bride's best personality traits. Then she typically gives a (condensed) version of the couple meeting and falling in love. Usually she finishes with how great they are together and how happy they will be in the future.
Groom: While either the groom or the bride may speak, the groom often speaks for both of them at the reception. It is his job to thank specific people who traveled from a long distance or who couldn't be there, as well as special family members who have died. Often he then introduces the congregation to the wedding party, briefly mentioning the bridesmaids and groomsmen. It's best for him to then thank both sets of parents and finish by toasting his bride.
Best Man: The Best Man goes last and it's his duty to be funny without being crass. While many have failed to capture the perfect balance, the Best Man must strive to find funny, good-spirited anecdotes that focus on the bride and groom's traits while gently ribbing the groom. This one is fun, and requires little formal structure.
Keep these ideas in mind, but when it comes to a wedding just remember that the best rules are to be kind, to be sincere, and to speak from the heart.
Index of Example Toasts