Clinking and Kissing

Ever hear the expression “Different strokes for different folks?” The saying is perfect when describing customs and rituals at a wedding; there are almost as many different traditions as there are brides! Of course, for every tradition is an “absolute must” for one bride, it’s a big “no-no” for another.

A bride asks: “I really dislike the custom of the bridal couple being ‘forced’ to kiss whenever glasses are clinked together. I find it offensive, but I also know that many of my guests like it and won’t understand if my husband and I don’t ‘follow through.’ What can I do that’ll satisfy me and make all my guests comfortable?”

Dear bride: Did you know that the “clinking” of glasses may have originated from the medieval days when wine was often spiked with poison? If a host wanted to prove to their guests that the wine wasn’t poisoned, he would pour part of the guest’s wine into his own glass and drink it first. If the guest trusted his host, he would just clink glasses when the host offered his glass for a sample. (Hence the clinking of glasses has become a sign of trust, honesty, and toast to good health.) Another explanation claims that the practice warded off evil spirits.

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(I like this one: Before drinkers began clinking, toasting with wine pleased only four of the five senses. With a clink, the fifth sense — hearing — was included. Not surprisingly, people who purchase glassware today might “test” the quality of a glass by the pleasantness of the clinking sound it makes.)

Regardless of the history, I can understand if the custom irks you. Luckily, it’s amazing how many delightful alternative there are to the “clink and kiss.” Pick one that you like and, hopefully, you will have satisfied everyone — including yourselves!

If your guests start clinking, don’t panic. Either you and your fiancé or the emcee can make the suggested responses to the clinking:

  • Respond by tapping your wine glasses together (no kissing)
  • Ask the guest (or the table of guests) who started the clinking to serenade you with a song that contains the word “love” in it, or either of your names
  • Tell your guests that you’ll kiss only if the “clinker“ makes a contribution to your favorite charity (have a “donation jar” ready)
  • Ask the clinker to demonstrate how a really good kiss should look!
  • Rather than clinking glasses, guests can tell a story about either of you, or both as a couple. You can have them prepare little stories or funny facts about you beforehand; whenever guests clink, a person from the wedding party stands up and tells the story
  • Put funny instruction into balloons. When a guest clinks, they have to burst the balloon and follow whatever instructions are inside. The instructions can be funny (like imitating an animal), or touching — like how, where, and how long the guests know you and your fiancé… or anything that’s not too embarrassing
  • Adopt the Irish tradition of ringing bells for good luck. Include a note in your program or at each guest’s seat that you’d appreciate it if they could substitute ringing bells in lieu of clinking glasses

What do you think about these ideas? Have you scrapped the clink in favor of something else? Let us know in the comments box below; to submit your own question to the Wedding Guru, email Judy at

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