Rule 1: Keep it Short - There are no bad 10-second toasts and there are no good 10-minute toasts. Remember 9 times out of 10, your guests have already indulged themselves in cocktail hour, or they are reuniting with friends they haven't seen in a while. Aka their attention span is non-existent. As much as they would love to hear your life story on how you and the groom met and grew up together - just pull some of the key moments that might cause a good laugh or the occasional tear.
Rule 2: Keep it Sweet - Simply put - No insults. No vulgar stories. Grandma doesn't appreciated hearing about a wild spring break trip where you and the Bride-to-be (aka her angel of a Granddaughter) first met. Anything you wouldn't feel comfortable telling your own parents about yourself, KEEP TO YOURSELF!
Rule 3: Test it Out - Any Best Man or Maid of Honor that has ever said to me "I'm just going to wing it" has crashed and burned. At least practice your speech once. And no, not in front of the mirror. Practice it with a friend who will give you HONEST feedback. If they don't laugh or think it's cute or a great speech, 150 other people most likely won't either.
Rule 4: Most Important - Be Sincere and specific. A toast is always a chance to say what we always mean to say to the people that we love. You wouldn't be selected for this job if you didn't mean something to either the bride or the groom. If the Bride has been an amazing friend, tell us why. Because she's been there with you through some of the most important moments in your life, or because she's helped you when no one else would... that's something Grandma will definitely want to hear, so feel free to share.
Rule 5: (I've definitely paraphrased here) THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN AN INTOXICATED SPEAKER!! Yes, you might feel liquid courage is something you need in order to stand in front of 200 people and talk. But for some reason I've found, people FILLED with liquid courage, lose complete track of time, can't gather their thoughts correctly, and honestly can just make a mess of their toast. Which, with all elements combined, equals the perfect youtube video. Enjoy a cocktail or two and raise your champagne glass, but leave the rest of the drinking until the cameras are no longer rolling.
To sum it up? Your ultimate goal? Is to NOT make the Bride and Groom or anyone else for that matter, do what is pictured below! :) Happy writing!