Doing a wedding toast is a tricky thing. Your audience is a bunch of people who don't all know each other, spanning generations and traditions, some of whom barely know the people involved while others know them all too well. Even if you're comfortable with public speaking, it's a tough crowd.
Plus, if you know a guy well enough to do a toast at his wedding, you probably know some things about him that are hilarious -- but not necessarily appropriate for his family, let alone his freshly minted in-laws, to hear. But at the same time, you have to keep it entertaining.
So what do you do? Stop worrying; we'll lay it all out for you.
This mini-speech is about the bride and groom but for everyone there. So keep inside jokes and references that only your core group of friends will understand to a minimum.
To win extra brownie points, give a shout-out to any "VIP" types -- extremely old relatives, people who travelled a long way to get there and so on.
Be flattering to the bride, even if you have to stretch things. Hopefully, you'll genuinely like her and have nice things to say. But if you have issues with her, there's always a way to put a positive spin on them. This is where you have to tap your diplomatic skills. If she's a hard partier, say that she has great joie de vivre. If she's a workaholic, say that she inspires everyone with her drive. If she's boring, say she's down to earth. If she bosses him around, say she keeps him grounded. And so on.
As for the groom, feel free to throw in some good-natured teasing, but keep it respectful. It's a toast, not a roast. You're representing him and his friends, so you'll want to present a good image to the people there who might not know him that well.
In general, avoid talking about any of his past misbehavior. Or if you must, do it in a coded way so that his closest friends will understand, but no one else will suspect anything. For example, if he once worked in a sketchy adult toy store, you might make a brief mention of his "experience in retail."
But remember that this is the wedding, not the bachelor party. References to past ex-girlfriends, rough spots in his current relationship or doubts he may have had about the marriage? Off-limits. As for any mischief that may have happened in the days leading up to the wedding? Don't go there. Not even close.
In the end, it's all about balance. Be funny, but remember it's more than just a comedy routine. Top it off with some heartfelt sentiment towards the end, but don't feel the need to turn it into a cheese-fest. The key is to leave everyone with a good feeling.
Perhaps most importantly of all, keep it short and sweet. You'll probably be one of several toasters, and nobody wants to listen to people drone on and on. Like you, they're probably itching to get to the open bar and dance floor.
Here's a basic outline, to which you can add your own details to draft a great wedding toast in no time.
DIY Wedding Toast
It's wonderful to be here, to celebrate the coming together of [bride and groom] with so many great friends and family. [Give a shout-out to VIPs here.]
I first met [groom] at [wherever you met him]. I could tell right away that he was [deep compliment about him as a person]. Since then, we've known each other through [list some things you've done together -- sports teams, jobs, travel. Flesh it out with a quick anecdote or two that speaks to his good character].
But things really changed for him when he met [bride]. With her [list a few good qualities], we could all see that he had found someone special. We always knew he was a great guy, but she brought out the best in him [illustrate with an example if possible].
[If you can remember your friend telling you anything about wanting to get serious with this girl or a time when you noticed him changing for the better thanks to her, mention it here for a nice tug at the heartstrings.]
[Next, if you have any funny but safe anecdotes about your friend getting adjusted to coupledom, throw them in. For an easy laugh, you could warn the bride about some bad habit of his. Keep it light and family-friendly.]
So I couldn't be happier that my friend has met such a great woman, and that they're embarking on a new life together. Let's all raise our glasses to many years of happiness to come. Cheers!
This article was written by Malcolm Fraser for AskMen.
Source: Wedding Toast
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