I recently attended a wedding where I heard one of the most atrocious toasts ever. My heart broke for the bride; this was a close friend! Instead of sharing a sweet, complimentary anecdote about the bride or the couple, the bridesmaid prattled on about how she’d never be able to summarize so many years of friendship, so instead would share a quote by the bride about what a wonderful friend she [the bridesmaid] is! There was no saving it after that.
With so many strikes against this toast, I spent some time reading up on and thinking about what I think makes for a really great toast and came up with these guidelines:
Keep it short. A wedding toast is not a treatise on marriage or retrospective of your friendship. If you have a microphone in your hand, obviously you are special to the couple, so don’t worry about building credibility. One line about your relationship to the bride, groom or couple will suffice. Don’t waste precious toasting time trying to edge out the rest of the wedding party to prove you’re closest to the couple—it’s pathetic.
Be nice. It’s a toast, not a roast. The couple’s friends and family have gathered to celebrate a happy occasion so keep your tone positive and don’t embarrass anyone. A silly anecdote for a laugh is great! But speaking ill of the guest(s) of honor reflects poorly on you.
It’s about them. Sure it’s from your perspective, but now isn’t the time to talk about yourself. Compliment them. Share an anecdote that highlights the bride or groom at his/her best. If you’re really good, find a way to compliment both individuals and their relationship. It’s not the time to talk about your unique, 15-year friendship with the bride or “that hilarious time at summer camp.” If the story’s connection to the couple is weak, keep brainstorming. It’s not about you.
Most important of all is to speak from the heart. A simple and sincere, “I love you and I’m so happy to see you so happy” might not make the history books but it’s the essence of just about every wedding toast so you really can’t go wrong.
Finally, finish with, “to the happy couple” so guests are prompted to raise their glasses. Easy!