So you were asked to be the Best Man at an upcoming wedding. First off, congratulations! By being chosen as the Best Man, you have agreed that you are, indeed, the best man for the job. Hopefully you are aware, however, that it’s a job that requires you to prove to everyone why you were chosen. The biggest, most important task of the Best Man during the wedding reception, of course, is the speech you have to give to all of the people there. And you better knock ‘em dead because all eyes are on you. But don’t fret, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve been to many, many weddings in my lifetime. Small weddings, big weddings, vastly-untraditional weddings, and painfully rigid traditional weddings, you name it, I’ve been to them.
What I always look forward to at the wedding is the speeches. Along with everyone else in the audience, I know that, chances are, the Best Man’s speech is going to be entertaining. If it’s not entertaining for the pure fact that it’s well-written and well-executed with lots of imagery and well-timed humor, then there’s a good chance it’s entertaining because it’s painfully bad to listen to. I’ve seen both, and let me tell you, you do NOT want to be part of the latter group. Because they will certainly not let you forget about it for years to come.
So how do you avoid an untimely fate in front of all of your friend’s family and acquaintances? It’s really quite simple, if you just follow some easy directions.
The Four Key Things to Include in a Great Best Man’s Speech:
- Endearing story about how you two met & what he means to you
- Funny, but appropriate story about your friend
- Well-wishes & toast
The introduction of your speech sets the tone for the whole speech, so it’s important to let the audience know right away where this speech is going. This is your chance to lay out your first crumbs of humor, but be careful not to go too big, too soon. Something simple, like matter-of-factly explaining why you are the best man (“I’m the best man because all these other guys said no first, so wish me luck!” “I’m the best man because I have the most blackmail on the groom.”, etc.). It doesn’t have to be that complicated, it’s just got to set the tone for how you want to introduce yourself. You can instead choose to be more cordial, depending on the audience, and simply introduce yourself and compliment the venue and the bride. You can never, ever, go wrong with complimenting the bride.
The Endearing Story & What the Groom means to you
The introduction should lead you right into the endearing story. Think about how you met, or what changed you into friends, if it was not an immediate friendship. On what kinds of things did you two really connect with each other? If he’s better than you at sports or some other thing you have in common, then you have a chance at building him up while still being funny. (“I let him win at basketball all the time, it really seems to have helped his confidence through the years, I mean just look at who he’s marrying!”)
If you’re better than him at something, don’t gloat about it, you’re not there to build yourself up. Instead, think of ways you can talk about how great he is at something else. At most, make it seem like the two of you are rivals at something. This is his family and his new wife, and he trusts that you can make everyone laugh without being mean or talking yourself up. This is not a roast. You are acting as your friend’s wing man for his wedding day, so don’t screw it up for him.
Once you give everyone a good idea of the friendship and what you mean to one another, it is now the appropriate time to embarrass the hell out of him!
Funny, but appropriate story about your friend
Now that you’ve built him up, let’s make sure he stays grounded. Here’s where you can also get in the most trouble, so make sure you keep it PG, and don’t cross any lines. There are funny stories about everyone. The longer you know each other, chances are that you have many different, quirky things that you have gone through together. Avoid stories with substance abuse or anything that makes him look sloppy or like a womanizer, however. Everything else is fair game, within reason.
What about the time your friend stunk up a bathroom? I heard a story where a groom got called out by the mother in law for making some particularly bad smelling odors in the bathroom right by the kitchen when dinner was served. The best man told the story, and then presented him with a spray can, and I tell you everyone DIED laughing. It was harmless, but it made him a little embarrassed without sacrificing their friendship. Something along these lines is ok.
If you can think of any sitcom-esque scenarios the two of you have gotten yourselves into together, then now is a great time to tell it! (“He forgot to pack toilet paper on a camping trip and had to… make do.” “We accidentally destroyed the bride’s favorite thing and had to get a replacement without her knowing, and we failed miserably.” “We decided it would be a good idea to go for a hike and got lost and some mountain men found us and had to help us!”)
The main thing here is to be as vivid with your story telling as possible. If the story has a hilarious ending, that’s all the better. Just remember to keep it clean, and relatable as possible to a wide audience of all ages.
Well-wishes and toast
Lastly, if you have done right to put together a great speech, the toast should be the easiest part left. Compliment the bride and the whole wedding once again, give the groom a hug, and then toast away! You’ve earned it.
The last bit of advice I have for you is give it about three weeks of practice. You’ll find that the more comfortable you get talking out loud, the easier it will be to perform in front of a wide audience. You don’t have to be a great public speaker, but you do have to make sure you don’t just “wing it”. No matter what romantic comedy films say, it’s never ever better to just wing it. Good luck!