Seven Tips for Delivering a Best Man Speech That Doesn't Disappoint
Being asked to stand by the groom's side on the big day is a huge honor—one that comes with a number of responsibilities. From protecting the rings and ensuring the groomsmen are all in order to making sure that the newlyweds grab a bite to eat and giving a touching reception toast, the pressure is on. That last part is the job you're likely most worried about, but with a little preparation, you can deliver a wow-worthy best man speech that will move the couple and all of their guests.
If you're the best man, chances are you've known the couple for a long time. You could've been best friends since childhood or you might even be the groom's brother. No matter your relationship to the soon-to-be newlyweds, the formula (and dos and don'ts) for writing a toast that'll be well-received is the same. The most important piece of advice we can give is to always be prepared—don't improvise your speech. Instead, work off of our easy-to-follow template and write a winning, heartfelt tribute. Then, practice that speech again an again. The more times you can read through it—out loud!—at home, the easier it'll be to read in front of a crowd.
On the subject of crowds, don't be too nervous to speak in front of yours. Remember that this group is here to celebrate the love shared between two people, and anything say that adds to that experience is bound to be well-received. And while it might be tempting to calm your nerves at the bar, we recommend limiting yourself to one drink before your speech.
Don't Wing It
Unless you perform as part of a professional improv troupe, you'll need to plot out what you want to say and how you want to say it. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, look through old photos, yearbooks, tweets, Facebook posts—whatever it takes to inspire a great anecdote about the groom. Getting a head start also means you'll have ample time to practice, which is a key factor in the success of the speech overall.
Sure, it's called "liquid courage," but imbibing in several signature drinks will not help your cause. Is there anything more cringe-inducing than watching a lone person, mic in hand, ramble incoherently for minutes on end? Don't be that guy. Instead, limit yourself to one drink during cocktail hour, then toast to the couple after the speech is over.
Follow a Template
Not every speech has to be structured just so, but if you're having trouble coming up with a general blueprint for your big moment, adopt this easy formula:
- Deliver an opening line. This can be light and/or funny, but never embarrassing or gauche.
- Thank the hosts of the wedding, whether that's the couple's parents or the newlyweds themselves.
- Tell a story about the groom that highlights why he's so awesome, then try and tie in those qualities with that of his new wife.
- Wrap up your speech. This is the point where some people like to quote a line or lyric from literature or music, but as long as you end with something like "Here's to Jane and Mike and a lifetime of happiness!" you're golden.
Abide by the Five-Minute Rule
No matter how charming or hilarious you are, people will get antsy listening to endless stories about you and the groom's wild college days when they could be chowing down on cake or busting a move out on the dance floor. Your speech can be as short as 90 seconds, but try not to exceed five minutes lest the guests get restless.
Write It Down
We're not talking about a word-by-word script of what you plan to say (remember, you'll want to look out into the crowd, not down at an index card). Still, drafting a simple bulleted list will help you find your place should you get off track.
Limit Inside Jokes and Embarrassing Stories
Don't you just hate it when you're the only person in a group not in on a joke? So do wedding attendees. Keep your inside jokes where they belong—on the inside—and no one will feel left out. Never bring up old girlfriends and, above all, don't try to mortify the couple with a crude joke. You may think you're being funny, but no one else will.
Keep It Light
The best man often speaks after the maid of honor and father of the bride. Translation: The crowd very well may be all toasted-out by the time you take the mic. You don't have to fire off a series of one-liners or make it your personal mission to have everyone in the room in stitches, but a little levity never hurt anyone. Much like the right song can end a party on a high note, a creative and fun best man speech can begin the night on one.
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