As you might have guessed, there is even a “for Dummies” book for the Best Man, covering all matters of Best Man duty minutiae. The official duties of the Best Man encompass more than a toast and a speech at the reception, but the speech is clearly the one duty that is the cause of sleepless nights and endless agonizing. More than a few Best Men have met with ignominy, glares and stares, and social devastation because of some misstep during their remarks. Admittedly, most of the real tragedies occur because of the Best Man’s decision to wing it or because he has enjoyed too much of the free champagne before his speech instead of at least waiting until the conclusion of his official duties.
Earlier this year we wrote about the duties of a groomsman and were reminded that, while not without the need for chivalry, the role of Best Man no longer entails kidnapping or physically protecting the bride or similar such duties. You can leave your sword at home. Still, a lot of men would much rather have to put up a fight than give a speech of any kind, so the following will provide a few suggestions that may calm your nerves.
My one and only Best Man Speech occurred a few years ago at my Brother’s wedding. It was not a great success. One of my attempts at being funny brought more gasping sighs than delighted laughter. As it turned out, what I thought would be a familiar reference to most of the crowd was instead one of those “I guess you had to be there” moments.
A lot of other blogs and advice givers suggest that the goal of the speech is to systematically embarrass the groom, pointing out his every flaw, as some sort of free-pass moment of retribution. Sounds like a good way to end a friendship if you ask me.
As for my part,if I had a do-over, I would:
- Run the speech/toast past a couple of other people….to give it a test.
- Better consider my audience.
- Make sure to be favorable to the Bride, affirming that I and everyone else know that the Groom just made the best decision of his life.
- Tell a funny, personal story that explains my relationship/friendship bond with the Groom.
- Cause the audience to listen to me but want to look at the Bride and Groom.
James R., from California, sounding like the voice of experience, offers his Top Ten list to anyone thinking about their best man speech:
- Know your audience.
- Be yourself.
- Remember that parents, friends, and maybe even some ex’s will be in the audience. The last thing you want to do is offend anyone so keep your stories funny but not insulting.
- If you are not a funny person, no need to tell jokes. If you have a hard time being sincere, make it funny.
- Remember to thank the parents/hosts of the wedding.
- Score extra points by calling out those who came from long distances to attend.
- Remember that it’s not about you, it’s about them!
- Tell a quick story that ties in their love for each other or demonstrates the commitment of the groom. (Now that’s being a good wingman!)
- Unlike this list, KEEP IT SHORT. 2 – 3 minutes is best.
- Lastly, wait for the booze until after your speech is done!
Every situation and relationship has its unique qualities to pay attention to and capitalize on. Ask a lot of questions during your preparation. Give it a test run. Above all, have fun and enjoy the moment.
A toast to you, Best Man!