04/30/2012 09:29 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Toasting Etiquette

The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

Dear Lynne,

Should you drink if you are being toasted? When my mother toasted our engagement, I said "thank you" by raising my glass and sipping. My fiancé didn't drink. Instead, he stood up and thanked her. He claims this is correct and you shouldn't drink when you're being toasted. Isn't this insulting? My mother wasn't actually insulted, but other people could be. Who is right here?



Dear Hillary,

He got it right. Your intentions were noble, but your etiquette was shaky.

Toasting rules work like this:

You never drink to yourself, and you always thank the toaster afterwards. If the group is large, or it is a formal occasion, the toaster and toastee should each stand when they speak. In a formal setting, you never propose a toast before your host has done it. (If the host seems to have forgotten, ask her or his permission and then go for it.)

Never toast with water. It's unlucky. Toast with anything else, even an empty glass. Congratulations on your engagement!