The chances you will at some point in your life be called on to make a wedding toast—or, perhaps, will decide all on your own to drunkenly stand up and make an unscheduled wedding toast you were not called on to make—are pretty high. The shy, the gregarious, the loners: no matter what we do to avoid them, wedding toasts will find us all.
Of course, the vast majority of wedding toasts border on, or at least dip into incoherency, rambling, and inappropriateness. So if you have a wedding toast in your future, don’t wing it: treat it like a job interview and do some prep work, because you will be judged based on your performance. One foolproof trick? Keep it classy with some ace literary quotes. Here are a few suggestions from our infinite library.
For 100% Ugly Cry Sincerity: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Want to ruin everyone’s makeup? Hit them with this gem from Bronte’s classic: “I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel—I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you—and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”
To Establish Yourself as The Smartest Person in the Room: The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
Feeling a bit saucy and need to establish intellectual supremacy over everyone in the room, including the happy couple? Bierce’s fierce sarcasm will do the trick: “Marriage: A community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves—making in all, two.”
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For Total Nerd Domination: The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien
If you’re a couple—or celebrating a couple—who has a closet designated for cosplay outfits and a wedding reception theme best described as a LARP, hit them with some serious Ent love: “When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay; When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day; When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain; I’ll look for thee, and call to thee; I’ll come to thee again!”
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For Harry Potter Cool Points: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
All you need to do is somehow work up a speech incorporating the concept of the Patronus, then offer a quote about a man who knew the true nature of love: Severus Snape. “From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe: She landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‛After all this time?’ ‛Always,’ said Snape.”
For 100% Efficiency: Ogden Nash
Called upon to make a toast and just want to get in and out as quickly as possible without making a fool of yourself? Nash, the master of the short, whimsical poem, solves your problem: “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.”
For that Timeless Romantic Vibe: Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
If you think there’s a more romantic couple than Jamie and Claire from Gabaldon’s time travel series, you’re lying to yourself. When trying to come up with a romantic toast, what could be better than “Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone, I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.” No, you’re crying.
For Affectionately Insulting the Groom: Murder in Mesopotamia, by Agatha Christie
Christie was a fount of quotes about marriage, including this gem from one of her classic mystery novels, ideal for tweaking the groom: “Women can accept the fact that a man is a rotter, a swindler, a drug taker, a confirmed liar, and a general swine, without batting an eyelash, and without its impairing their affection for the brute in the least. Women are wonderful realists.” That round of applause you’re getting from the women is real.
For When You’ve Just Burst in to Stop a Wedding: Man and Superman, by George Bernard Shaw
Did you just race across town with the assistance of a zany group of friends in order to stop someone from making a huge mistake? George Bernard Shaw, as usual, has the ideal quote for you to use after you’ve ruined the ceremony: “Those who talk most about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows are the very people who declare that if the chain were broken and the prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric would fly asunder. You cannot have the argument both ways. If the prisoner is happy, why lock him in? If he is not, why pretend that he is?”
For Cracking Up the Entire Room: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Want to bring the house down? Clink your glass, wait for total silence, and announce you’d like to share the very wise words of the very wise man the Archdean of Florin. Then take a deep breath and say “Mawidge is a dweam wiffin a dweam. The dweam of wuv wapped wiffin the gweater dweam of everwasting west. Eternity is our fwiend, wemember that, and wuv wiw fowwow you fowever.” Prepare to be carried out of the room by a cheering crowd.