How to Make the Perfect Toast

News just in: your friends are getting married.

The plan: for it to be the best day of their lives.

The hitch: they’ve asked you to make a toast.

Our advice: don’t mess it up!

The responsibility for making a perfect toast rests squarely on your shoulders. It is, in equal measure, a tremendous honor, a profound responsibility and yes, a crushing burden.

Relax though. Take a breath. We’re here to help.

First, some Don’ts before the Do’s.

Don’t detail the bride or groom’s dating history, their previous proposals or marriages. Though we’re fans of funny, awkward has no place at a wedding. For example…

“I congratulated him because all his other girlfriends had been such complete dogs,” says best man James Fleet in Four Weddings and a Funeral. “Although may I say how delighted we are to have so many of them here this evening.”

Don’t talk about sex, baby. Though it’s a part of every wedding night, it’s not something to rub in everyone’s face. To coin a phrase.

“You have 95-year-old grandmothers sitting there in a wheelchair,” says TV’s Joy Behar, “and the last thing they want to hear is some story about the bride and groom having sex.”

Don’t improvise. Assuming you put a fair bit of careful thought into crafting the perfect toast, don’t suddenly decide to go off book. The temptation to go off on tangents, or be a little naughty, can be strong after a few drinks. Resist, we say. And remember our next rule:

Don’t drink too much. Too much liquid courage can be hazardous to your toast.

It’s not about you. “A wedding toast is not a chance to make yourself look good,” says The New York Times’s Bruce Feiler. “It’s about making the couple look good.”

Don’t giggle. Don’t cry. Public displays of emotion are reserved for the Bride and Groom. And above all else:

Don’t makes jokes about marriage. Though certainly not every marriage enjoys a fairytale ending, suggesting so is our number one no-no.

“I definitely wouldn’t say,” adds Behar, “things like, ‘marriage is an institution, but who wants to live in an institution?’ People who make the toasts are often old, married people, and they’re sick of each other already. But you don’t want to bring that bad vibe into the wedding. The bride and groom are still hopeful.”

At this point in the blog, you may well be wondering what’s left for you to say. On to the Do’s then.

“A good wedding toast inspires laughter or tears,” writes Toastmasters International. “But a great toast evokes both.”

No pressure!

We suggest you follow this simple formula for success:

First, assuming you’re the best man, share a funny story or two about the groom. Be affectionate. Keep it PG. Next, speak from the heart about the groom. The bride too, if you know her well enough. Deliver all the warm fuzzies you can. Finally, address the couple directly, raise your glass and deliver a simple, classic salutation.

We suggest one of the following, or if you fancy yourself a poet, by all means come up with something of your own. Good luck!

“Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep, because reality is finally better than your dreams” Dr Seuss

“To get the fill value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” Mark Twain

“May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.” Irish proverb

“Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” Audrey Hepburn

“No road is long with good company.” Turkish proverb