Photo by Illuminance Studio (Flickr)

You’ve been to enough weddings to see the good, the bad, and the “somebody take away their microphone.” The maid of honor gets up there, and though her intentions are great, you need a secret decoder ring to understand the stories she’s telling. It’s like a bad Drew Barrymore movie. And the best man doesn’t fare much better. He’s watched all of the roasts on Comedy Central, so he pretty much knows what he’s supposed to do. The groom picked this particular guy out of every guy he’s ever known, and what happens? Word vomit. His jokes fall flatter then your aunt’s at Christmas. Guys, watching Wedding Crashers on TNT the week before doesn’t count as research, but kudos for being able to recite the whole movie.

There are a lot of things you should do during a wedding toast, like smiling and staying positive. On the flip side of the coin, there are also some key factors to stay away from … I’m talking restraining-order distance. In writing hundreds of toasts and seeing a couple go down the wrong path (we call these speeches the Manziels or the Lohans), here are three major problems to avoid:

1) Belly Button Microphone: This seems simple, but how many times do you see a nervous toaster get up there and the microphone is at their stomach? Unless you want the crowd to hear your stomach growling, bring that mic up to your mouth! I’m not saying you have to lick the microphone like David Lee Roth or make love to it like Steven Tyler, but get it close enough so your voice is heard and gently commands the room.

2) Jokes That Are So Inside They Have a Vitamin D Deficiency: I think we’re all guilty of this one, whether it’s giving a toast or just telling a story at happy hour. That time when you and the bride tried on mismatching outfits at Forever 21? ... Well, you just had to be there. But guess what? Nobody at else at the wedding was. For the best man, those endless football practices in 10th grade were probably grueling and hot, but unless an NFL scout signed you as a 16-year-old, the story doesn’t carry much weight with most people. Be sure to include stories that reference something everyone knows about (the bride’s bubbly laugh or the groom’s booming voice are a good start).

3) Professional Accomplishments: People lean on their achievements like the cousin who you had to make a groomsman lean against the wall at 2 a.m. the night of the bachelor party. Telling the crowd how you and the groom were the youngest guys to make partner in the company doesn’t help anyone. It’s straight ego. It’s pretty much telling the crowd, “Hey here’s the bride or groom’s LinkedIn profile: Impressive, huh?” The crowd wants stories that show their human side. Stick to things like the time the groom stayed with his grandma in her hospital room for three days or when the bride drove eight hours to console a friend in need. That’s the good stuff.

Josh Womack is the head writer of Laugh Staff, a speech-writing and content-creating company of comedians. Laugh Staff helps make wedding toasts fun with good stories and great jokes. Check them out if you need a hand or a laugh!