By Andrew Rivas

When it comes to planning the itinerary of your wedding reception, you certainly don’t want to want to waste any precious time but you shouldn’t have it feel like you are rushing through it either.

In the “old days” here on the West Coast, toasts were almost always given right after the grand introduction and before dinner service, but now, more and more, toasts are being done during dinner. This is a nice time to do them, but I believe that there is a right and wrong way to do them during this time.

The main point is that a person giving a toast is asking all the other guests at that time to stop what they are doing and pay attention because he or she has something important (and hopefully wonderful!) to say about the people they are toasting. At that time, all eyes and ears should be on the person giving the toast as well as the people being toasted and to me, it’s a real distraction if the catering staff continues to walk around serving or clearing plates during this. It tis true that they do have a job to do and people want to enjoy their food when it is at its best, but it’s important to plan correctly with all team members so that all of your objectives can be met without the awkward clatter of dishes during Dad’s speech.

To not delay service and yet to allow everyone to enjoy their meal while it’s nice and hot, think about doing all your toasts almost exactly 10 minutes after the last plate of dinner has been served or when the last person has made their way through the buffet. It’s really important to not let it go any longer than that because with larger groups where it may take up to 20 minutes from after the first table has been served to the last table, people finish their meals at varying times. The natural reaction of guests when they are finished eating is to walk around and visit other tables, go to the bar, go to the restroom or just roam around your beautiful venue. When it’s toast time, your MC will then need to spend time and make announcements asking and cajoling your guests to retake their seats, some of whom will be out of earshot and inevitably end up missing the toasts altogether. And lastly, all of this ends up taking up more time that could be used for open dancing!

Here are a couple of more hints as well:

If you have more than three toasts being given, think about breaking them up in half. Doing first set of toasts before dinner and the second set after the last plate has been served can keep your guests entertained with their full attention.

Some venues need to split guests up in different areas for dinner. In this case sometimes it is best to do the toasts at cocktail hour if you can get most of your photos done before this time.

These are just some ways to maximize the time and impact of your toasts at your wedding.

Thanks for reading!