Let’s face it. Sometimes the harder we try, the harder we fall. Other times, the game is rigged against us. This is the case of the wedding toast. From personal experience, there are so many variables to consider and so many potential, possibly fatal, pitfalls. While I have trouble remembering wedding cake flavors and floral centerpieces, I can almost always recall terrible wedding toasts (Screen cap of Bridesmaids, 2011 Film below).
The wedding toast can prove to be a classic catch-22. The prudent character might elect for a “safe” wedding toast. This formula usually begins with the origin story of the friendship and is accompanied by a conservative joke or memory that is guaranteed to generate polite laughter. It progresses into a narrative about initial skepticism of the now-newlyweds and how these concerns were alleviated. It concludes with general Hallmark statements of how perfect they are for each other.
In total, the “safe” wedding toast should generate two moments of polite laughter, one “Awww” reaction, some clapping, and become wholly forgettable by the end of the hour. This is actually the course of wedding toast I would take (Photo Courtesy Style Me Pretty).
The second route follows a similar structure, only it is much more aggressive and risky. It teeters the line between hilarious and offensive with the origin story. It might elect to be downright unpleasant in the first-time-meeting narrative and then overcompensate to catch up. It might conclude in a jokingly manner about otherwise very real compatibility concerns and be received with loud applause or sparse clapping. I think of it as high-stakes gambling (Photo Courtesy Prosecco Club).
There is no such thing as planning for the perfect wedding toast. Certainly, there are guidelines: practice makes perfect, don’t get sloshed before the toast, be ready for a planned punch line that doesn’t deliver, don’t bring up past flames, address the audience but also address the newlyweds directly, keep it right at 5:00 or 6:00 minutes, make sure the content is something that all guests can relate to or comprehend, try not to make it too much about yourself but just enough so as to give perspective and meaning.
Unless you’re Benedict Cumberbatch, you probably aren’t going to be delivering the perfect wedding toast. Keep in mind that no one’s asking or expecting the perfect wedding toast—they’re only looking for a few genuine minutes that honor the bride and the bridegroom (Screen caps of Sherlock Season 3, Episode 2 below).