Being asked to serve as best man for a wedding is one of the greatest honors, but it comes with a ton of responsibility and one daunting task that most flub: the best man speech.
The goal of the best man speech at a wedding is to say a few kind words about the groom and his new partner. However, if you’ve been to a lot of weddings, you’ve most likely witnessed what is supposed to be a loving gesture quickly turn into an awkward, drunken spectacle. Combining booze with a lack of preparation can often lead to the best man rambling and sharing inappropriate and embarrassing stories about the groom in front of friends and family. On the other hand, you’ve probably also seen the extremely short best man speeches that simply involve raising a glass to the new couple, which can seem rather impersonal.
If you truly want to stand out and give a best man speech that people will remember and talk about, here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you take the time to prepare.
Do Not Procrastinate
Don’t wait until the day of the ceremony assuming you’ll know what to say when you get there. Spend the weeks leading up to the wedding thinking over some ideas for your speech by brainstorming thoughts, stories, jokes, and quotes that you might want to use. If for some reason you don’t know too much about the groom and his partner, take the time to ask. Focus on stories that highlight what a great guy he is. The entire point of your best man speech is to make the groom and the couple look good.
Lay Off the Sauce
You may be tempted to reach for liquid courage before your big moment, but remember that this day is not about you. Although tossing back a few cocktails before your speech might make you less nervous, you don’t want to get sloppy drunk, which might lead you to say something you’ll regret later on. This is an important moment, so postpone your own gratification until the speech is completed, then celebrate your victory with as many drinks as you wish.
Start your speech by thanking all the people who made the day possible. Single out the couple’s parents by name and offer to toast them for raising two fine people. Make sure to acknowledge the guests in attendance for coming.
Make a Connection Through Storytelling
The most ideal way to structure a best man speech is to find a connection between a story about your friend and your support for the couple. Maybe your friend would always lament about never being able to find a partner with certain qualities, but he finally did when he met his partner to be. Or recall a moment when you were hanging out with the couple and you realized your friend had found his match. If you want bonus points, talk about how the couple balance one another. For example, if your friend is a bit shy and his new partner is a bit more outgoing, when together, they find the right balance, which makes them the perfect team.
Keep Embarrassing Stories to Yourself
Avoid topics that are controversial, offensive, or embarrassing. You would think this would be common sense, when we have a microphone in hand and are a bit nervous, we resort to what we think is humorous, which can lead to saying the wrong things. Avoid all the lame “ball and chain” jokes and stories from college that paint your buddy in a bad light. And never, ever talk about the groom’s past relationships, make or elude to crude comments about the honeymoon, or say something negative about the people in the room, the venue, or the wedding itself. Just use tact and common sense and you should be fine. And lastly, if you don’t want to lose the attention of the audience, remember that any inside jokes you have between you and your friend should remain that way.
Stay Short and to the Point
Nothing is more irritating than a rambling speech at a wedding, especially when there is food to be had or cake to be eaten. By the time you are handed the mic, people have most likely already heard from the maid of honor and a parent or two, so shoot for no more than five minutes.
End With a Quote and a Toast
Ending with a short quote is the easiest way to wrap up a speech. A quick online search will lead you to hundreds of appropriate quotes that will work for a best man speech but try and find one that resonates with the couple the most. If all else fails, go for the generic, and use: “Marriage is not about finding a person you can live with, it’s about finding the person you can’t live without.” Then raise your glass and finish off strong with something like, “My friend has found that person. Cheers to a lifetime of happiness for the couple.”
Just Be Yourself
These tips are just suggestions to help guide you when preparing your best man speech. There are no formal rules or instructions. Let it flow naturally and make it personal and sincere by saying things from the heart.
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