Help me write a memorable enough wedding toast!
August 13, 2014 6:53 PM   Subscribe

How do I write a memorable, but not too memorable wedding toast? I've looked at previous questions, and looked online but I'm having a trouble due to complicating factors.

One of my best friends is getting married this weekend and I'm the witness. I'm very happy for the couple. It's going to be a pretty formal/fancy wedding at a nice venue, though I also think (knowing the couple) it will be as laid back as can be given all the wedding rituals.

There are three toasts scheduled. Groom's father, officiant (bride's best friend), and then me as "the witness" (and groom's best friend). The officiant is a professional writer, so I'm sure he will have this down. I'm not a great writer and I'm terrible with sharing emotions, so I've been trying to research how to make a toast without it being a train wreck yet still get my love and respect for the couple across.

The complicating factors are - 1. A lot of the stuff I've read doesn't address some of the pitfalls of a woman friend of the groom toasting the couple. I was reminded how gendered traditional weddings tend to be. I don't feel comfortable being very bro-like, though I do often struggle with sharing emotion. There's also a running gag in our friendship of people getting the wrong idea about us. I don't want to refer to this because it's pretty stupid, though the groom was the witness at my wedding. (OK this is minor compared to the other factor.) 2. I met the groom when I was a teenager (over 15 years ago) and most of our stories involve his first wife who passed away 5 years ago. So while I want to describe how long and deep our friendship is, and how truly happy he now is, I need to do so in a way that doesn't bring up his deceased wife (who was also one of my closest friends). I don't want to say anything that might put a weird cast on the day, especially because it's the bride's first wedding and I really care for her and know that would upset her. I know this can be done but I can't get around the mental block of it.

So help me Metafilter! How can I write a good wedding toast that won't reference my dead friend, but also help paint a full picture of my friend the groom while telling the story without bringing too much of the past?
posted by kendrak to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't think too much about this. It seems counter intuitive, but just say what you think.

"I've known Billy since we were kids in high school. We've been through everything together and I'm so happy I can be here with you both on such a happy day. Lisa, welcome to the family. Sure, we're all a bit weird around the edges, and we don't follow the rules, but isn't that what attracted you in the first place? So a toast to Billy and Lisa, may you have every happiness."

It doesn't have to be any more than that. Really. After two of these, it gets old anyway. No pressure.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:01 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Start off with a light-hearted joke. Mention him being a part of your wedding, and tell him how honored you are to be a part his. mention how long you've been friends and that you've been through a lot together. Mention how beautiful the bride is, and how happy you know she makes him. Wish them luck and happiness.

Easy peasy. If you need proofreading/tweaking tips, feel free to me-mail me.

And relax, you'll be fine =c)
posted by pyro979 at 7:11 PM on August 13, 2014

Best answer: This reddit comment gives a pretty good straightforward formula.

Yes, I know it says best man, and you're a woman, but I think everything in the formula still applies.
posted by mekily at 7:39 PM on August 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

mekily has a great formula for you, but if you're not a formulaic person, I would recommend that you not worry about saying something dumb and speak from the heart. Our society fetishizes weddings (curiously staying silent about the work needed for the marriage itself) and thinks that any misstep in that context is somehow akin to shooting a defenseless person for not getting on the sidewalk (you can tell where my mind is these days).
posted by learnsome at 1:13 AM on August 14, 2014

If you want to I don't think there's anything wrong with mentioning his late wife if you want to acknowledge how you and him are bonded, especially in the context of being happy for your friend finding someone. Just make it joyous.

The only way you can really botch this is trying too hard to be funny and ending up just being mean.

My favorite wedding speech pep talk tho:

I have a very good friend who is the second of four with the eldest and youngest sibling being his best men. The older brother is the consummate Ivy League sales guy. Just oozes charisma and is smooth as hell. The younger brother was at the time taking a forced sabbatical from undergrad and was some one we all kind of saw as the goofy little brother.

The older brother gives his speech first and it looks and sound like something from a movie. The younger brother stands up and gives this goofy sweet and emotional speech about his older brother and his now wife and all the things that happened between the three of them over the 13 years the couple had been together.

People remember the second speech. Not the first.
posted by JPD at 5:02 AM on August 14, 2014

Steal from Four Weddings And A Funeral?

Good advice above. Rember, you are allowed to cry at funerals and gush at weddings. A time and place for everything.

Also, its the only time you have the microphone and the attention of the crowd. Its a good time to thank the couple and/or their parents for special things they've done, especially things relevant to the wedding like helping with travel or accommodations.

Don't drink before the toast, at least not much. Don't ramble. Don't threaten to reveal secrets. In fact, don't acknowledge there are secrets. Arm yourself with quotes if you want.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:06 AM on August 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far. I will try to draft something today. You're right that the gender issue is not an issue really.

As for not mentioning my friend's late wife - I really can't. The bride and I have become good friends over the past year, and I know that she has complicated feelings about her. Also, this whole week for a number of reasons has kicked up lots of memories and emotions, and I'd really like to keep it together.
posted by kendrak at 11:59 AM on August 14, 2014

Best answer: I was at a wedding last year that had a female friend of the groom give a toast. She talked about how much she enjoyed getting to know the bride and what a great friend she is. She went on a little long, but had a really sweet story about the two of them bonding without the man and thanked the man for bringing such a wonderful woman into her life. Then she had a nice thing to say about how happy she's been watching them grow as a couple and how they are perfect for each other. The important part of this was how much it kept the bride central to the speech, so that it squashed any gender weirdness. I imagine this is doubly important in the case where there is a first wife that passed and complicated feelings around that.
posted by ohisee at 3:50 PM on August 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. The toast was not as smooth as I had hoped, but everybody seemed to like it. So it was a success! I couldn't have done it without your help.
posted by kendrak at 7:15 AM on August 17, 2014

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