A highlight of any wedding reception is the toasts to the bride and groom. Of course, the toasts can also be a source of anxiety for the person who has to stand in front of everyone at the reception and speak while raising a glass.

The best of these short speeches are touching and often a little funny. They usually have stories that help the listeners get to know the couple.

I’ve written and delivered my share of toasts. So if you’re not sure what to say, or if you’re a little nervous, here is a template that you can use to honor the happy couple.

Start By Introducing Yourself

“My name is Joey Asher. Fred and I were roommates during our freshman year at Georgia Tech.”

Give a Positive Trait and Tell a Story

Now, Kristina, I know that you love Fred and know many of his great qualities. But you may not know that Fred is [insert positive trait].

Next, tell a story or two to illustrate your point. The story can be funny or touching. Just make sure that it’s positive.

I told you that Fred was a great cook. Our first year in the dorm, he actually organized an entire Thanksgiving Dinner the week before the fall break. We ate in the dormitory lounge and cooked everything ourselves. He cooked a turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. I told him that I wanted to make the cranberry sauce, that my grandmother had a great recipe. But when I made my request, he got quite agitated. He was hesitating to tell me something. So I forced it out of him. He said he wanted to be in charge of the cranberry sauce. That it was very important to him. Of course, I didn’t care that much. On the day of the feast, he showed up with two cans of jellied cranberry sauce from the grocery story. I said, “What the heck?” He said that for him, it’s not a Thanksgiving Dinner without the canned cranberry sauce.

Tie it in to the Formal toast. And Make it Sappy.

So I’d like to make a toast to the Bride and Groom. May you love long. May your lives be filled with thanksgiving. And may you always have plenty of cans of cranberry sauce.

Don’t Forget to Practice . . . A Lot

Once you have the toast written, practice. I always practice enough so that I can do it without notes. Lots of practice will help you overcome the nerves too.