There are many ways to give a wedding toast. Toasts can be long or short. They can give advice or just give encouragement. But – at least in my experience – there are four elements that *must* be present for a toast to be a good one:
1) A personal story: To establish your connection with the toast recipient, tell a specific, concrete story of an experience which brought you together. Or tell about an experience which illustrates the general praise you’re trying to highlight (see #4).
Ex. Bob and I met when we were about to jump out of an airplane over the jungles of Laos.
2) A shared experience: Make your audience feel like they are a part of the toast, too. So instead of just talking about your own experiences, relate an experience or an attribute of the toast recipient to which everyone can relate. Get people nodding their heads.
Ex. Many of us remember when Bob first started jumping out of airplanes. He would talk your ear off!
3) A good-natured ribbing: A toast full of praise and sentimentality alone can get old. It may be appreciated, but it won’t be enjoyed. To add enjoyment and variety, your toast should lightly “roast” its recipient for some small, relatable fault which the rest of your audience knows about.
Ex. You all know how OCD Bob is about making sure his jump gear is squared away. I hope Tracey is ready to deal with his organization habits!
4) A specific praise: This is the point and climax of the toast. You’re here to praise and celebrate the toast recipient. But don’t just talk about how “great” they are. Be as specific and concrete as you can. Praise the things no one else is praising. Praise what you uniquely know to be true about the toast recipient – as long as its something to which others in the audience can relate.
Ex. Through all of our adventures jumping out of planes together, I’ve come to know Bob as a person who truly cares about people’s achievements. He has a unique concern for seeing people live out their dreams. He helped me live out mine.