If you’ve been to more than a few weddings lately, you may feel like you’re running out of ways to wish the newlyweds luck and happiness. How do you convey your warm feelings in a way that hasn’t already been said a million times? The answer may lie outside of your own culture. Take inspiration from these popular toasts from around the world–you may add some new material to your toasting repertoire!
Irish Traditional Wedding Toasts
“May the flower of love never be nipped by the frost of disappointment, nor the shadow of grief fall among your family and friends.” (This is a good, all-purpose toast for any couple.)
“May there be a generation of children on the children of your children.” (Before using this toast, be certain that the couple plans to have kids.)
“May the roof above you never fall in, and those gathered beneath it never fall out.” (If this toast is too conceptual for you, you can use the rhyming alternate, “May the roof over your heads be as well thatched as those inside are well matched.”)
“May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends.” (It’s hard to go wrong with this one.)
“May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends.” (If you don’t want to memorize a longer toast, this is a nice quick one.)
Hawaiian Traditional Wedding Toasts
“Ka mau ki aha,” or, “May you never thirst again.” (This traditional wedding toast is short, sweet, and especially appropriate if you’re holding a glass of something delicious. If the couple finishes their glasses on your toast, arrange for their drinks to be refilled immediately.)
Armenian Traditional Wedding Toasts
“May you grow old on one pillow.” (This traditional wedding blessing is sometimes accompanied by a gift of a ceremonial pillow, decorated and embroidered with the couple’s names or the wedding date.)
“Love and music go hand in hand. If there is love there is music, and there is no music without love. Let your life be filled with love and music!” (This is a nice toast to give shortly before the dance floor fills.)
“The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret I wish you to discover!” (This toast treads dangerous ground, especially if you’re attending the wedding with your spouse.)
“May your joys be as bright as the morning, and your sorrows but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.” (If you’re not sure what to say, this all-purpose toast covers it all. You may also wish to continue, “May your joys be as deep as the ocean and your misfortunes as light as the foam.”)
“The man or woman you really love will never grow old to you. I wish you to always remain young for each other.” (Best delivered by a guest who is older than the couple, this toast is nearly guaranteed to garner an “aww” from the room.)
Greek Traditional Wedding Toasts
Russian Traditional Wedding Toasts
“Today you celebrate your first wedding. May it be your last one!” (You may also want to start a chant of, “Gorka! Gorka!” (meaning “bitter, bitter”) so the couple can kiss and “sweeten” the room.)
“May your children have happy and rich parents!” (Again, be absolutely sure the couple plans on having children so you don’t risk an awkward moment.)
Scottish Traditional Wedding Toasts
“May the best you’ve ever seen be the worst you’ll ever see. May the mouse never leave your pantry with a tear-drop in his eye. May you always keep healthy and hearty until you’re old enough to die. May you always be as happy as we wish you now to be.” (If you’re feeling especially poetic, you can’t beat the Scottish. Write it on a small note card if you’re afraid you’ll mix up the order and wish the couple a crying mouse instead of eternal happiness.)
“May you have many friends, and little need of them!” (This famous quip wishes the couple a good and lucky life much more succinctly.)
Hebrew Traditional Wedding Toasts
“L’chayim, to life!” (L’chayim literally means, “to life,” and is guaranteed to earn you a few smiles at a Jewish wedding. Just don’t launch into the song from “Fiddler on the Roof”–or, what the heck, do!)
Italian Traditional Wedding Toasts
“Evviva gli sposi!” or, “Long live the bride and groom!” (When you shout this after an Italian wedding, be prepared for a storm of clapping and enthusiasm.)
Wish the Couple Good Health
Can’t find any toasts from the specific culture you’re looking for? By far, the most popular toast around the world is the wishing of good health. No matter what other beliefs you may or may not share with your toast recipients, you can’t go wrong if you tell them you hope they stay healthy.
Regardless of the couple’s country of origin or cultural background, there’s always a traditional way to toast to their health. Consider the following options:
Arabic: “Fee saḥitkum”
Chinese: “Zhù nǐ shēntǐ jiànkāng”
Czech: “Na zdraví”
Dutch: “Op je gezondheid”
French: “À votre santé”
German: “Zum Wohl”
Irish: “Sláinte duine a ól”
Lithuanian: “I sveikas”
Polish: “Na zdrowie”
Portuguese: “A sua saúde”
Russian: “Za vashe zdorovye”
Scottish Gaelic: “Slàinte mhath”
Slovene: “Na zdravje”
Welsh: “Iechyd da”
If you’re attempting a toast in a language other than your own, you’ll almost certainly receive a lot of applause. No one will expect you to say foreign words perfectly (this is the ultimate “thought that counts” situation) but, if it won’t spoil the surprise, meet with a native speaker ahead of time to make sure you’ve come close to the right pronunciation.
In tonal languages such as Mandarin, even the way you say the syllables can change the meaning. Don’t let this intimidate you, though; you’ll be sure to earn brownie points when you toast in a language that all the visiting relatives can understand!
For couples coming from different cultural backgrounds, you’ll be sure to earn heavy applause if you incorporate a traditional toast from each. If the thought of memorizing a foreign language makes you nervous, just use a translated version. The recipients of your toast will be delighted and honored.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.