Are there actual rules for a wedding toast? Not really. Are there suggestions that you should follow to the letter if you want to maintain the friendship? You’d better believe it.
First and foremost, TWI (toasting while intoxicated) is a huge no-no. Assuming you’re of age, a sip beforehand to take the edge off is OK, but remember you’ll make a lot more sense if you’re sober. And you won’t run the risk of saying things you’ll live to regret.
Second, make it memorable. To do so, you’ll need informed material, such as a few mildly embarrassing childhood memories of your friend, the groom. However, your anecdotes should never progress beyond good-natured ribbing. Mention of his former sexual partners or anything else of a typically confidential nature is completely off-limits. If you’re worried that something you’re planning to say might be insulting or in bad taste, it probably is. As a double check, run your material by some trusted friends in advance.
Third, don’t forget the bride. Tell her you’ve never seen your friend happier, how she’s affected him for the better and how you knew from the moment you met her that she was the one for him.
Fourth, keep it brief. Your comments should take at least a minute, but no more than five. If you’re sharing the stage with the maid(en) of honor, don’t be a microphone hog -- be mindful of her time too. And give her your full attention when she’s speaking.
Fifth -- and this is one a surprising number of best men forget -- make sure you instruct everyone in the room to raise their glasses in toast. This signals you’re about to wrap your remarks. Sum up with appropriate fanfare: “ … And with that, let’s all raise a glass to one of the happiest couples you’ll ever meet, John and Linda. Cheers!” Take your sip, then head over to the newlyweds to give them a hug or kiss.
And now, sir, your toasting duties are complete. With any luck, your best buddy will be just as charming when he gives the toast at your wedding. But save this link for him just in case.