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Toasting Do's and Don'ts

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

Toasting Do's and Don'ts

Members of the mess and gentlemen stand to toast, but female guest remain seated to drink the toast unless it is considered a standing ovation. If still in doubt, the ladies should take their cue from the President's wife.

Toasts to deceased persons are normally made with water.

The President proposes the first toast. If a toast to the colors is done, it is always the first toast, to which the members of the mess respond, "To the Colors."

The second toast, in order of precedence, is to the heads of state of the allied nations represented. The toasts are made in the order determined by the seniority of allied officers present. Remember that commonwealth nations toast the sovereign, not an elected official. Consult the section on toasts in this guide or the individual allied officers for the proper terminology to be used in toasting their heads of state.

After the President of the mess has toasted the head of each Allied nation represented, the senior allied officer then proposes a toast to the President of the United States. The response is "To the President."

If no Allied nations are represented, the President proposes the toast to the commander-in-chief. The response is "To the President."

Following the President's or senior Allied officer's toasts, Mister/Madam Vice proposes a toast to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The response is "To the Chief of Staff." A toast to the Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, and Commandant of the Marine Corps is appropriate if members of that service are present at the mess. The senior ranking officer representing a sister service would then propose a toast to the Chief of Staff, United States Air Force.

Excessive toasting can make for a long evening. While other toasts may be appropriate, too many toasts can cause the evening to run behind schedule and dampen the enthusiasm of the members of the mess. At some locations, there may be a number of allied officers present. In this case, it is appropriate to collectively propose a toast to the heads of state of all Allied nations represented.

Informal toasts are also an important part of the occasion. They should be humorous, but in good taste. It may be advisable to "plant" some impromptu toasts to set the tone of the evening.

After the welcoming remarks, the President introduces the head table, and Mister/Madam Vice proposes a toast "To our honored guests" response, "Here, Here."