My best friend, Rebecca, and I have known each other for many, many years. We were friends before boys were even interesting, before we had grown boobs and before we knew what foundation was.
Throughout high school, we became the kind of best friends who slept over each other’s houses almost every weekend and knew everything about each other.
She was the girl who knew all my insecurities before I did, who could tell me when things weren’t going to work out with a guy before even I knew and who was. She's still one of the solid rocks I run to on the verge of an emotional disaster.
During our college years, we still kept going strong. One weekend, she came to visit me in Ames, Iowa, and I, unknowingly, introduced her to her husband-to-be.
That’s why when she told me she was getting married this past August, I almost cried.
I didn’t write Rebecca’s wedding toast; her mom did. (And she did an awesome job!)
But, I did write something else. I wrote our story. Because it’s funny, it’s beautiful and it's exactly what I would’ve said if I would’ve had an uninterrupted 15 minutes to talk at her wedding.
During the week leading up to her wedding, I posted it online on my blog, and the response was so hugely positive and thoughtful. I even contemplated dropping everything and becoming a full-time wedding toast writer. (Is that a profession?)
I made a lot of people cry, and I don’t know about you, but I consider that an achievement in my book.
If you want to craft your bestie’s wedding toast in a way that doesn’t make the crowd snooze, here are my suggestions:
Be original; make it a story.
Don’t start with the end; don’t let people know where you’re going just yet.
Everybody knows you’re giving a wedding toast. And if you are, it’s probably because you think the bride and groom are fantastic together. We get it; be more original.
Choose a different angle. This can be an anecdote of when you and your best friend first met, or it can be an opening sentence that resembles a Jodi Picoult novel. Have fun with it!
I went the latter route, opening with:
“She was this walking set of white teeth, molars and all. And I was this awkward set of brown eyes that always managed to look like deer in headlights.”
Be real. Be self-deprecating. Be funny.
Don’t try to make your toast sound like you and your best friend are coming straight out of fairytale book, no matter how posh that wedding is.
Some things we can always identify with are people talking about instances that speak to the human condition.
I believe that deep down, we’re all natural disasters waiting to be given permission to happen. And I think we like to watch others embrace those insecurities.
So don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Write about moments that shaped your friendship, bad times and good times, and talk about lessons learned. This way, you make your toast relatable, and you keep the crowd engaged.
“I still look at that summer with particular fondness for the babies we were -- the hard-ass, sh*t-eating, overly confident but-secretly-a-disaster, babies we were. I particularly remember all the times we had to remind each other to pick up our dignity off the floor.”
Add specific anecdotes.
Talking about friendships and relationships in the hypothetical sense is all safe and good, but I’m going to tell you something: It’s boring.
Nobody cares that you and “Sarah” have always understood one another, that she’s funny or that you went through tough times together. That all raises questions, and you want to be able to deliver the answers before people stare at you from across the room with blank faces.
To really drive your point home, and keep the crowd from head-bobbing in their seats, be more specific. Be brave, and tell the wedding guests about that time you lied to his or her parents and told them your friend was staying over in your house, or that time you and your friend didn’t go to school for a full week.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with these.
“I still recall with uncanny clarity that day we were both loitering around her kitchen and sampling her latest baking disaster, when her mom walked in and blurted out, 'Who do you think will get married first, of all of you?' To which we laughed and said, 'Of course, Andrea.'”
Make it relatable.
Some of the things people talked about the most when it came to my pseudo wedding toast to my best friend was how applicable it was to any person that has ever had a best friend.
Yes, I did talk about moments that were specific to the two of us, but there was this overarching theme that didn’t just apply to us. It applied to everyone who has ever loved anyone that much.
So, when you sit down to craft your toast, think about how the story of the two of you speaks more about friendship, or relationships, in general. And this can be done easily through a good selection of anecdotes, or through really focusing on the point of your story.
“I thank her always for teaching me the value of time and reciprocity. For teaching me that the best relationships in life are built on the base of intentionality and selflessness. That to truly love another, you must both love yourself and be beside yourself at times. That these things evolve. That we evolve and so do our friendships. And that maybe we should spend less time fighting that and embrace it headlong for the uncontrollable, nasty plane crash that it can be.”
I think the key to any kind of good writing is to package it nicely. But think of it figuratively; you want to start and end on the same note.
Why? Because it wraps up the whole thing. It connects to the beginning, giving the whole time you were rambling on a purpose.
So, if you began with an anecdote about a time you and your best friend snuck off to Vegas, you can talk about how you wish those kinds of stints don’t end, etc.
These last few sentences are usually what resonate long after you sit down, people clap and hoot, and the dance floor opens up. Don’t be afraid of making people laugh and cry, and bring it back to the bride and groom.
“And on that day of her wedding I hope she jumps for joy. That she celebrates herself. That she celebrates God. That she celebrates him. That she's still just a walking set of white teeth, molars and all.”
You can read my pseudo-wedding toast right here!