By Janet Adetu

The toast at a function is commonly practiced today, to celebrate a person, a couple or an event. At times this can be skipped only because either it was accidentally omitted or because the celebrants did not know the procedure for toasting, in other words they did not have the correct savvy skills to carry it out. The whole process of toasting is used to add glamour to an occasion.

During my training sessions when I ask participants to practice proposing a toast, I notice that many are lost for words. They simply have no idea what is the right thing to say, whether the toast is at the beginning or at the end of the event. Interestingly even though this is round about a five minute exercise, there is a lot of protocol that goes into it. Enjoy your read.

Toast Protocol Facts

Are you the honored guest/ celebrant:

As the celebrant or guest of honor, you should always remain seated when celebrated. You cannot really celebrate yourself. The same applies to newlyweds at their wedding, they both remain seated.

Which glass, which drink:

When it is time to give a toast, the presenter makes a speech then suddenly says, “Please lift your glasses and let’s toast to the occasion”. Ideally champagne is the preferred drink for toasting served inside a champagne glass. This is not to say that the toast cannot be done with something else. For those who do not drink alcohol or champagne, today you may fill your glasses with juice, soda or at times we have seen water.

Most people are never prepared for a toast so may not have no drink on hand; they tend to raise an empty glass. A toast should include a glass filled with liquid content before raising to complete the procedure.

When and where:

Interestingly a toast is not only done at the end of an event or occasion. There is an opening toast and a closing toast depending on the circumstance as well as program.

The opening toast is all about welcoming guests, acknowledging their presence and wishing them a time of fun and friendship.

The closing toast is to serenade the celebrant with good wishes for the future. The opening toast is usually announced during the cocktail session right before the guest proceeds to dinner. The closing toast is towards the end of the program while the guests are still seated, after they have eaten dinner.


The key to toasting is in the timing ensuring that it is presented at the right time. If it is an opening toast, most guests will be standing for the cocktail with a few seated. When the cocktail has commenced for about one hour or so, it is time to present the welcome toast. For the closing toast, this is usually before the vote of thanks. The host of the event will choose who will give the toast in honor of the celebrant. Essentially open your meal with a toast to wet appetites and close the event with a toast to acknowledge the guest of honor. The opening toast should not be more than 3 minutes, while a closing toast is slightly longer.

What to say:

Your toast should not be a roast that is too long. You may have great words to say about the celebrant or occasion but make them meaningful, the toast should be kept short and simple.

If you have not presented a toast before, practice a few lines or exactly what you wish to say and commit to memory; Depending on the occasion, if it is a formal or a business setting keep it business-like. Say that thing that creates a bit of humor that is authentic. Remember it is not about you but the guest of honor celebrant. Keep your audience authentic at once and make what you say worth listening to.

Click, Clonk, or raise in the Air:

Today it is not important or necessary to clink your glasses especially if you are far from the celebrant. We encourage raising of glasses to toast, this is known as an air kiss.  The importance of the toast is to have the right eye contact while lifting the glass. When it comes to clinking glasses, this should be done with caution. Clink glasses with care to avoid breaking accidents. I have seen this happen before.

Avoid stretching over the table to toast. The clink involves touching f main body of the glass not the base, some people clink the rim to rim.

Toast Protocol

1)                               Commence your occasion with a welcome or opening toast.

2)                               Round up your occasion with a closing toast with all the guest standing.

3)                               The guest of honor or celebrant reciprocate the toast to the host

4)                               The guest of honor does not sip but smiles and says thank you.

5)                               All other guest responds to the toast by clinking glasses still standing up.

6)                               Drinking is followed by sipping the content in the glass.

7) All guest are seated.



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