Follow a simple format. A wedding toast is not a Nobel Prize lecture, and does not need to be an elaborate, long-drawn out affair, based on a deep and complicated structural format. Simply start by thanking the hosts of the reception. Give the room a short introduction on how you know the bride/groom or couple, and talk about their positive traits. Throw in a short, sweet story which displays how they are perfect for each other, or how they met, and end by wishing them a happy and successful marriage. Make it a funny, touching, charming, and memorable toast.
Keep it brief. Do not drag it on. Most wedding toasts are 3 minutes or under, so do not feel pressurised to continue speaking for a long time. The toast is merely an expression of goodwill, which the entire room can share – no one wants to stand around listening to a lecture, they want to toast and get back to the party.
When in doubt, write it down. If you are not a great public speaker, or have trouble organising your thoughts, it will help to jot your points down on paper. In any case, it is advisable to organise what you plan to say at a wedding toast – this will not be a situation where it is kosher to wing it. Once you have written it down, rehearse it and run it by family and friends, to see if it is alright.
Avoid highlighting any negative traits the bride or groom might have. Do not point out any negative characteristics, or worst, physical attributes – e.g. if one of them is overweight. Paint them in a positive light, and do not make fun of either one. This is their special day, so make sure you compliment them both.
Do not incorporate racy/embarrassing subjects, or refer to either the bride or groom’s exes. Talking about the wedding night, or any history that the bride or groom might have had, is a major no-no. Don’t even go there. Not only will the off-colour material paint you in a bad light, it could have negative impacts on the bride or groom – respect the fact that on their wedding day, they are standing in front of everyone they know (parents, in-laws, family and friends).
Do not be egocentric. Many speakers make the mistake of basing the toast on themselves, and speaking at great length about their personal relationship with the bride or groom. While you might have shared great times with the bride/groom, this is their wedding day – it’s about them, not about you.
Be natural and sincere. Speak from the heart, and don’t try to be too pompous or too funny. Incorporating long, wordy quotes will just make the toast come across as tedious and make you look like you are trying too hard, while desperately trying to make the audience laugh too much will earn you little more than maybe a few pity laughs (if you’re lucky). Allow your own natural personality and wit to shine through.
Finally, when the big moment arrives, deliver your speech, and raise your glass to toast the bride and groom. The worst is now over, so feel free to enjoy the wedding.